Sam Harris hurts my brain, plenty plenty much.
Sam Harris was recently asked on twitter: “If the self is an illusion, [then] who or what is witnessing that illusion?”
To which Sam pithily answered: “Consciousness[!]”
Of course, this makes absolutely no sense at all. It’s not like he was constrained to give a short answer (although, if it were, it’d still make zero sense) since he was writing this not on twitter but over at his blog. Plus, the kilometric paragraphs he’s given as answers to other questions leaves only one possible reason for his incomprehensible ‘consciousness’ answer, and it is that he scarcely knows what the hell he’s talking about!
See, the ‘self’ is (or, if it isn’t, it’s at least a fundamental part of) consciousness. So to say ‘consciousness is witnessing the illusion of the self’ is to say ‘the self is witnessing the illusion of the self’, which is a rather incoherent thing to say as it presupposes the very thing it claims isn’t real!
The ‘self’, apparently, isn’t real (it’s an illusion) that is preceived by — tah-dah! — the self.
But, by denying there’s any difference between mind and brain, that is, in effect, the absurdity the naturalist-materialist is left with, and one that he must accept, for if mind is only brain, then mind is only material, and if nothing material can be self-aware, then self-awareness — consciousness — cannot be real.
Therefore consciousness, aka, ‘self-awareness‘, is an illusion.
Again, if this is all sounding overly meta to all of you, that’s because, damnit, it is!
“It’s all an illusion, this self-awareness thing” is what the naturalist likes — actually, needs — to say.
The question, then, is: to whom, pray tell, is it an illusion?
The answer (for Sam) is that it’s an illusion to the ‘self’.
Well, O.K., Sam. Thanks. But, actually, no thanks — for making me aware that my self-awareness is an illusion. Or, if you like, for making me conscious of my consciousness being an illusion. You aren’t being self-referentially incoherent at all!