Dr Goff, Tear Down This Wall! The Interface Theory of Perception and the Science of Consciousnessiousness

Journal of Consciousness Studies 28 (9-10):91-103 (2021)
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Abstract

In his book “Galileo’s Error”, Philip Goff lays out what he calls “foundations for a new science of consciousness”, which are decidedly anti-physicalist (panpsychist), motivated by a critique of Galileo’s distinction into knowable objective and unknowable subjective properties and Arthur Eddington’s argument for the limitation of purely structural (physical) knowledge. Here we outline an alternative theory, premised on the Interface Theory of Perception, that too subscribes to a “post-Galilean” research programme. However, interface theorists disagree along several lines. 1. They note that Galileo’s distinction should be replaced by a truly non-dual account, referring to a difference of degree only. 2. They highly appreciate the role of mathematics, in particular when it comes to actually engage scientifically with consciousness. Some notable features of the interface theory are its skepticism towards our epistemic capacities and its rejection of the existence of a public, mind-independent reality. In addition, some interface theorists further employ a thin concept of “conscious agency” to ground their theory. The interface theory leaves open many of the problems of consciousness science (e.g. what is a “self”?) as questions for further (scientific, mathematical) research.

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