Very interesting interview with Susan Blackamore in the Third Way. She talks about how she came to abandon paranormal research and discusses some of the reasons why memetics is still regarded as somewhat suspect as a field of study.
Includes some pretty deep philosphical stuff. Blackamore rejects dualism but owns up to how difficult that is:
It appears to be the case that there is a physical world – I can hit it and feel it, I can hit you and you will agree that you felt it. There is undoubtedly my experience of the delightful turquoise colour of your socks, and I know enough about how the brain works to know that other people looking at those socks will call them ‘green’ and others will call them ‘blue’, because we all have different visual systems. Private subjective experiences seem to be a very different kind of thing from the physical world.
Look inside the skull and what have you got? You’ve got a brain made of billions of neurons, and all those neurons are doing is shunting electrical impulses and little molecules of chemicals here and there, back and forth. That’s all they’re doing. How can that be, or give rise to, or be responsible for – I don’t even know what the right word is! – the experience of that turquoise?
That is the mystery and it’s all around us. I cannot honestly deny that I seem to be having an experience of turquoise. There seems to be a me over here and there seems to be a sock over there. Nor can I deny that if we chop open a brain in the lab we will see all these neurons and everything. But these two things seem completely incommensurable.
She goes on to talk about the idea that consciousness is most likely an illusion. That’s the one that always gets me. This always raises a couple of questions:
1. Who exactly is having the illusion?
2. If my consciousness entertains the thought that “consciousness is an illusion,” isn’t that conclusion highly suspect — seeing that it is the result of an illusion? (That’s true of all conclusions, of course, but it seems especially pointed when it comes to that one.)
I’m not a dualist, myself, but if I were I think I would draw the line not between mind and matter but between matter and information.