STKeithFrankishFINAL SUMMARY KEYWORDS consciousness, world, brain, people, processes, satanism, reactions, extra, sense, outsider, complex, view, satanists, feel, state, disgust, experience, reacting, podcast, happening SPEAKERS Stephen Bradford Long, Keith Frankish
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Stephen Bradford Long 01:03 This is sacred tension, the podcast about the discipline of asking questions. My name is Steven Bradford long and we are here on the rock candy Podcast Network. For more shows like this one, go to rock candy recordings.com All right. Well, as always, before we get started, I have to thank my patrons. My patrons are my personal lords and saviors and they are keeping me from selling my own Adrenochrome on the streets to fund my crippling content creation addiction. So for this week, I have to think app of top app. Goodness, this name apoptotic apoptotic. I think it's apoptotic. Wednesday, Rach que Nevermore Scott Varney de naam, and ven winter, thank you so much. I truly could not do this show. Without You. You are sustaining this show, making sure that I can bring it for free to the public every single week. And anyone listening to this if you enjoy my work, if you look forward to listening to the show every single week, then please consider becoming a patron for just $1 you get extra content every single week, including my house of heretics podcast with the former Salvation Army officer turned Christian heretic Timothy McPherson, we talk about religion, meditation, politics, media, whatever is in the news that day. And it also helps fund very practical things like when my van breaks down. Your support ensures that I have ongoing transportation and you cover medical bills for my six cats, and so on and so forth. So every little bit helps, and I truly appreciate it. But there are other ways to support the show. One of the best ways is to just leave five stars on Spotify or Apple podcasts. And if you do leave a short review. I will read it on the show as thanks. All right. Well, with all of that out of the way. I'm delighted to welcome Keith Frankish to the show, Keith, how are you?
Keith Frankish 03:19 Hello, I'm I'm fine. I'm good. Thank you for inviting me onto your podcast. Well, thank
Stephen Bradford Long 03:23 you so much for taking the time to talk to me. We are in two very different time zones. You're in Greece. I am on the East Coast, so I'm up earlier than usual. I am normally never alive at this time but but I'm alive for you for this conversation. So you are you are Philip Gough's co host and you come highly recommended by Philip Goff and I adore Philip Goff I think He's great. He's been on the show twice. And Philip Goff is a proponent of Pan psychism. And which is the idea that consciousness is everywhere to use his phrasing consciousness is everywhere. And then he described you as believing that consciousness is nowhere. So before we get into it, tell us some about who you are and what you do.
Keith Frankish 04:18 Well, thank you, Steven. Yes, I I feel similarly about about Philippi. We're great friends, even though I've used a rather different Yes, well, I'm a I'm a philosopher. I have affiliations with several universities, and my main one is an honorary readership with the University of Sheffield in the UK. But as you said, I live in in Greece. And I do some teaching for the University of Crete ham. I spend most of my time though, writing both academic work and more popular philosophy and promoting the view that you mentioned there the view that I that I called it's come to be called illusionism with It is often described or you'll find that interviews with me, I tend to appear under the title consciousness is an illusion or something like that. It's not exactly what I want to say. I want to say that there's a certain conception of consciousness that a lot of people have, which I think is quite wrong. And I think consciousness in that sense, doesn't exist. Okay. I think the philosopher's concept of consciousness, if you make is, is the concept of something illusory, something that doesn't exist. And what interests me is why people think it does exist when there was such good reasons for thinking that it doesn't. But I don't want to say that when we talk in an everyday sense of having conscious of having experiences of seeing and hearing, tasting and feeling pain, and so on, in an everyday sense that I don't see those things. I don't say that we don't feel pain that we don't see things that we don't, I'm not, obviously, I'm not saying that. I'm saying that our conception of what's happening. When you feel pain, when you see things, when you hear things, our conception of that the philosophical conception of that is, is very misguided. So one way of expressing that is to say that consciousness is an illusion, but it has to be qualified in the way that I've just done. But I do think that that kind of consciousness that Fitbit believes in the kind that he thinks is, is everywhere, that he thinks that electrons have this kind of consciousness, I think that kind of consciousness is illusory consciousness that could be possessed by an electron, that's illusory. So I want to get that in at the start. Because people often suggest, well, I can convince you that consciousness isn't illusory, by by giving you a punch on the nose, I'm curious that they choose that example. They, if they could, if they think that would work, and that a punch on the nose would work, then, then I guess, doing something nice for me would also work giving me something very nice to taste would give me some chocolates or something would would work as well. Of course, that wouldn't work. Because I don't deny that there is this state that we call pain that we sadly enter all too often, and that it's very real, and that some very unpleasant state, and we know when we're in it, and we don't like it. And we it's, it's, we don't want people to cause it to us. And if where if we're moral people, we don't want it to be caused to anyone else. I agree with all that, of course, the question is, what is that state? And are we conceiving of it in the right way, in particular, philosophers? conceiving of it in the right way, when they think that there's a really, really, really deep problem about the nature of consciousness.
Stephen Bradford Long 07:48 So you, it's, it sounds like you're working towards rejecting the entire framing of, say, the hard problem of consciousness that there is even a hard problem. And I understand the hard problem to mean, you know, how is it and correct me if I'm wrong here, let's see if I can articulate this. The hard problem is, how does inanimate material following the laws of physics give, quote, unquote, give rise to or generate or what have you? There's a femoral phenomenological experience of consciousness. Is that right?
Keith Frankish 08:29 Yes, that's, that's pretty much it. It's cause it's not. It's not necessarily inanimate I mean, we accept that inanimate matter can be organized in ways that become animate that become living. And nowadays, it's quite common. I suppose it's fairly orthodox to suppose that nothing, there's no no great puzzle about how you can create living things out of inanimate matter, nature, did it natural selection did it, you just need to organize inanimate matter in the right way, a very, very, very complex way.
Stephen Bradford Long 09:04 So so that is animate.
Keith Frankish 09:07 So that doesn't involve acquiring some magical new property of becoming some sort of vital essence or vital spirit as people used to believe. It just involves being organized in such a way that it performs some very, very complex processes, that it maintains its its own, it aims homeo homeostasis it regularly. Well, first of all, it needs to you need to organize in some way that it has a sort of backcountry between it and the rest of the world. And with inside that boundary, it maintains certain parameters. Right? It's self sustained, it takes in nutrition. It acts in a way to protect itself and preserve itself. It's able to reproduce, being alive as a matter of having a system that performs certain functions, maintains itself regulates its own condition, and reproduces itself like it's not meant to be a precise definition, but that's the kind of thing and modern biology is explaining how these processes, how inanimate matter can do those things, how it can be organized in a way to do those things. And I take it that, you know, this is the relatively uncontroversial. I suppose there are some people perhaps who think that life requires some extra spark. I think it's it's, it's fairly uncontroversial. Certainly among scientists and philosophers, I think that life is just a very complex organization of the same materials, that everything else is made up. It's not like, you have these old movies, where you have Frankenstein, Otto, and where there is something else that's required. Frank, Frank, takes the various parts of the human bodies, connects them up in the right way. So that it's all the organs and everything like that, but it's still missing the vital spark. And so he has to get the lightning to animate it, there's some extra thing that needs to be to be infused into this inanimate. body in order to make it live. Like the modern view isn't, you just need to get it all working properly, you just need to get the blood pumping. And now, that's very much an analogy for how I think about consciousness. Everyone accepts that, to be conscious, you need to have a brain work, and doing the stuff that brains do. Immense, getting mentally complex stuff, everyone accepts that pretty much I think everyone accepts that you need a brain to be conscious if things happen to your brain can lose consciousness, damage, disease, and so we know that all too well. But a lot of people think there's something more to consciousness than that. It's not just a matter of having the brain doing its mentally complex things, those 86 billion interconnected neurons doing what they do. And it's, there's something extra to it, there's a sort of extra spark, that you could imagine the brain doing all it's all it's performing all its functions, but still not being conscious. And so that's where the hard problem comes in. The hard problem is how to explain this extra step, this extra step from the brain doing all the stuff it does to consciousness itself. And it's like, supposing that there's an extra step between the body doing all its performing all its functions, and being alive. And I deny that I say that we simply don't, we certainly don't understand everything your brain is doing by any means. And it be a long, long time before we do. And, and there's no reason, no good reason to think that there's anything more to it than that. And it's a kind of illusion to think that there's something more to it than that, just as it's an illusion to think that there's something more to life than one's bodily organs, doing all the things they do. So in that sense, I deny that there's a hard problem, a problem over and above explaining everything, that they not just the brain itself, but the embodied brain, possibly being conscious about not just matter of having a brain but having that brain hooked up to the rest of your body and plugged into the wider world in the right kind of way. But there's no special there's no sort of hidden extra, that needs to be explained. So there isn't really a heart problem. What there is, though, is there's a sort of, there's what I've called the illusion problem. There's why the question of why we think there's a hard problem, white seems to us that there's something extra? That's the really interesting question, I think.
Stephen Bradford Long 13:16 And so the question here is not whether or not we have experiences and thoughts and emotions like those, we all know that we have this experience of being us. And that includes pain and happiness and pleasure, and, and so on and so forth. So you aren't denying the experience of those things. But rather, what you are contesting is whether those experiences exist above and beyond the physical processes.
Keith Frankish 13:49 That's, that's, that's, that's pretty, pretty accurate. Yes. Okay. Yes. The danger in bringing in words like experience is that for many people, those words automatically bring in this problematic conception that I want to reject. Right, they think about experience as something that is known in a very special way that is completely private. And that is not explained in terms of not explicable in terms of processes in the brain. So they would that very word experience, they bring in a lot of things I want to reject. What I don't think it is these states that we call experiences, paint, evenings, seeing things and hearing things and tastings. Those states are real, and they are whatever they are. Right, I'm talking about. The question is how we think of those states how we conceptualize them.
Stephen Bradford Long 14:39 So it's almost like the, the feeling that we have that through history has given us notions like the soul, the idea, these these feeling that there's this deep sense that we have that that we have a conscious self or a soul that is above and beyond our physical processes and then this feeling through history has given us you know, concepts like the soul and and Mind Body dualism and so on and so forth. And now today it, it gives us we still have that feeling we still have this sense that our consciousness is almost a mystical thing, a mystical property that is above and beyond or detached from physical processes in the brain.
Keith Frankish 15:26 That's, that's, that's, that's, that's pretty good. Yes, I think what's happened is, yes, for a lot of of many centuries, certainly, in the Western tradition, people thought that the mind consciousness, this was a separate thing, a non physical thing that was somehow associated with the physical body or soul. And that could survive the death of the physical body. Now, in the 20th century, that view became harder and harder to maintain in the face of growing understanding of the intimate connections between what happens in the brain, and what happens in the mind, we know, all too well. But damage to the brain affects the mind. Some conditions, sadly, people can lose much of their personality, and memory, their abilities while still alive. So the mind can go before there, if the brain ceases to function properly. So it became increasingly implausible to hold that the mind was something separate from the brain. But still, people couldn't give up this idea that it's not just the brain, because there seems to be this private inner world that seems quite separate from the rest of the of the public world, the world out there. But I sort of exist here, behind my eyes. In this private world, where, or everything is, it's almost, to use a metaphor that Daniel Dennett uses, it's almost like a private theater where, where the world is displayed for me privately in here, and this is the world of my experience. This is a world where I can dream and hallucinate, maybe, and have my own private world of experience. And it's still it seemed to people but okay, science is telling us that isn't really a separate world, separate, there isn't really some two things here, my body, my brain and my soul. But still, it seemed it couldn't just be the brain, the brain must be somehow producing some extreme extra properties extra, an extra aspect, an extra dimension, that wasn't fully accounted for in terms of what the brain was doing. In terms of the processes the brain was, was execute executing. So what So this is a form of what's called property dualism, rather than substance, it will, rather than saying that there's there are two separate things here, we say that there's one thing the brain but it's kind of doing two things. One hand, it's doing all performing all the functions that the other scientists investigate and that are not deeply complex, but not spatially mysterious. And then somehow, it's also producing this, this sense, is private in a world, but it's still the brain that's producing it, it's not the lot to things. And still, when the brain ceases to function, this private world will be switched off. But it's so it worked. People gave up substance dualism, but they couldn't really give up all of the dualism, they couldn't just say, it's just the brain performing the functions that are performed, there's still something extra being produced there. And so now they talk about the brain producing consciousness giving rise to consciousness, somehow consciousness emerging from the brain. So we still have this dualistic talk, even though we're not supposing that there's a soul. So as I see this, this is, this is a hangover from that more robust dualist tradition. People haven't fully accepted the implications of giving up belief in the soul.
Stephen Bradford Long 19:02 So let me see if I can articulate this. So instead of what was the term you just used, something dualism to describe the brain to deal with is a property of substance dualism versus substance dualism, okay? So property dualism, being the idea that there is the the functions of the brain, and all of those electrons are, you know, connecting and singing to each other and keeping your heart beating and, you know, working memory and all of that stuff, but then all of that calm Plek city is quote, unquote, giving rise to this E mer. to this to this ghost to this hologram that kind of floats above the thing. I'm almost.
Keith Frankish 19:51 It's like a hologram. It's like, this is the problem, how to think about this relation now. This can't give up the idea that there is this private world. But now they don't want to say it belongs to a separate thing, the soul that just is somehow associated with the body. It's still somehow holograms a nice idea. It's a sort of projection. Yeah, yeah, the brain somehow. Or another view, which is closer to the one to Philips view, is that this is this other aspect is somehow the, the intrinsic nature of the brain. So the idea is the brain is doing all these things, performing all these functions that have all these effects on our heart rhythm, and maintaining are all kinds of regulatory functions and functions and controlling behavior. But it also has an inner aspect to it, there's what it's like for the brain itself, intrinsically. So it's, so one way you can think of it as something like a projection. The other is you can think of it as the internal inner nature of all of that. And of course, once you think of it in that way, then it becomes open to say, to go down the pan psychist route to say maybe everything has this inner nature to it, right, maybe even an electron scientists, physicists can tell us what an electron does, how it interacts with other particles. But what about what it really like to be an electron, what's the electron itself like in itself. And so the idea this is one way to fit this extra aspect of ourselves into the world is to suppose that everything in the world has an inner aspect like this. However, the inner aspect is what we call consciousness, the electrons inner aspect is, is another kind of consciousness, a much simpler one. But they're all accepting this intuition that there is something more there that there is a soul very, very complex processes. Yeah, something that needs to be fitted into the rest of the world.
Stephen Bradford Long 21:57 And what you're arguing is that that is not the case that there that there is nothing added there isn't the hologram and there isn't that base reality in the brain of consciousness? It's neither Yes. Instead, you're saying there is just the brain. And and these emergent, what we experience as emergent properties, or what we experience as conscious i Okay, so the word experience, you objected to the word experience a moment ago, the you cautioned against it? Okay, so how, you know, having pain, having thoughts, having feelings, all of that stuff is simply the it is the brain? Is that what you would say? It is just there is no added level? So, I guess the question becomes, why do we have this additional experience?
Keith Frankish 22:57 Exactly? Why, why does it seem so why does this picture seems so compelling to us this picture of the private in a world? Why? If I'm, if I'm right, why does it seem that I'm wrong? Because if you see it, why exactly? Why is it so tempting to think in this dualistic terms? Good. And so there are two parts to what I, what I try to do. One is to make the negative case against that dualistic view, because I think there are all sorts of problems with it. And one problem with it is finding anything for consciousness to do. Because if it's like some sort of projection, or it's like the interior aspect of all this, what difference is it making? Okay, if all our behavior is explicable in terms of what the brain does, what's this extra element doing? It's like saying that, you know, again, there's a vital force in living things. What does that do? What does that explain we can explain the everything that living things do, we can explain reproduction and digestion and all the characteristics of, of respiration and all the characteristics of living things? In terms of biological poses? We don't need this vital spirit to do anything. Why do we need a sort of a vital consciousness? And why do we need a consciousness spirit to do anything? So part of my, what I do is make the negative case against that view, which I think explains the main case against it, I think, is that it explains nothing. Except all it does is justify these intuitions we have. The other part is then to say, well, so why do we have these intuitions? Why does it seem so compelling to think that there is a an intangible private world in here that is radically separate from the rest of the world that you you may know a lot about me, you may study me, you may study my brain. If you're a neuroscientist, you might not everything that's happening my brain you might study my behavior you might study psychology might study my psychological states, but still the 40s You'd never actually penetrate into this private and world of mine, this private world of experience or know what is like for me to experience the world because that is kind of different realm different world, only I can see your hologram as it were, all you can see are the things that are producing the hologram. Now, so I need to explain why that picture seems so compelling. And that is the constructive side of the project. And in it just in a few words, the idea is that I, what's happening when we have experience, and when we have conscious experiences, it's first of all, that we have sensory systems that are sensitive to the world, sensitive to various features of the world. And these sensory systems produce all kinds of reactions in us from very basic physiological reactions, changes in hormone levels, through all kinds of psychological reactions, they trigger memories, associations, emotions, beliefs, beliefs, desires, all sorts of they have all kinds of psychological effects on us. And they have behavioral effects as well, of course, if you, if you're, if you're in pain, you you cry out, and so on. So they have a whole range of effects from the very basic hormonal ones right through to the overt effects on behavior. And the idea is that we also as well as well that we have systems that monitor our own reactions, monitor how and model how we are reacting to the world. And so if I say, if I'm injured, my pain receptors, stimulated, signals travel to my brain, all kinds of reactions occur. Again, from stress hormones, I have a strong desire for whatever's happened to stop, I maybe I feel anger, fear, whatever memories and things. I believe that I'm in distress I'm having anxiety may be caused all sorts of things. And I also have systems that registered that I'm very used to how not just, I don't just react to but I also have systems that register how I'm reacting to the world. Okay, and that enables me to report on how I'm reacting to the world. So I can tell you, that this has happened to me. And I'm aware that it's having some effects on me a whole range of effects, which I in the case of pain I don't like. And so I can say to you, look, I'm in that state, again, where you know, when something damages you and all this stuff happens to you. And you have all these raft of effects, but I can't really describe them in detail. Because I don't have that kind of information. This modelling, this self monitoring is a very coarse grain type, it doesn't present me with all the details of what's happening. It just says, you're in that state, again, that state where something's Bad's happened to you, and you reacting in these, all these range of ways, with this general overall shape. So I can say to you look, I'm in that state, again, that happens when they get injured, and it's, I don't like it. And it's, it's doing stuff to me, I can't really describe it. But I don't like it, I want it to stop. It's a little distressed, I am not happy, and so on. And we've coined a word for that pain, right. And what happens then, though, is we say our pain, right. And that's a word for our way of characterizing the complex state that we enter when we are when our bodies are disturbed or damaged. And what it's actually referring to what we're using it to track other complex, physiological, psychological, behavioral reactions, that bodily damage causes in us. But because we don't, we're not aware of all the detail of this, we're just aware that there's this overall global pattern of reactions in me, which we've coined the word pain to describe. We tend to think that we're talking about something singular and unified, and it's with a distinct identity all of its own, that is more than just the reactions. It's the pain. And now we say, now we start to get into a problem, we've sort of turned this term for describing a complex of reactions into a thing in itself, that somehow needs explaining over and above the
Stephen Bradford Long 29:21 over and above, right, okay, so, in just listening to you talk, I think as I explore what it's like to be me, nowhere in sight is my brain. If I just go off of my experience, on its face, right, there's an AI and that in the same way you so if I'm just sitting here contemplating what it is like to be me, I have no sense of my spleen. I have no sense of my kidney. I have no sense of my intestines, right? And all of these parts of me are are incredibly alien to me. And same with the brain. There's there is no sense of neurons, there is no sense of of, I would have no idea that I had a brain that this consciousness is or this this whatever it is this experience. Is, is. Right. And and there's that experiential break in our realities that severing in our realities, would you do you think that that is what also causes this this intuition that we have a consciousness above and beyond physical processes because when just the sheer fact of the matter is that when we think about what it means to be us when we think about what it means to be human, nowhere on display is the brain.
Keith Frankish 30:58 Absolutely. Okay. I absolutely agree. And I think that is a major part of the explanation for the intuition of, of dualism. And there's a, there's a very natural explanation for that. And I suggest that we have self monitoring self modeling systems, I guess, I'm tempted to think that we have these, because we're social creatures. We don't just react to things, we don't just see things, hear things feel things. We also share information about the things we're seeing and hearing and feeling. And we share information about how they affect us. Because they that's, that doesn't taste nice, don't, don't do that, or that will hurt. Or that's nice, try that we can share information. And this, this is a hugely important aspect of human life, we don't have to wait and try things to find out what they're like we can tell each other in advance, we can take precautions, we can seek out things that other people have told us a nice, we can avoid things other people have told us a nasty, this is this hugely important aspect of human life. And so I think evolution has equipped us with systems talking this loose way about systems with systems, monitoring how things affect us. We don't just undergo reactions to the world, we also monitor our own reactions, so that we can report them to other people. But we don't need to know all the details of of how things we don't need to know that it's causing activity that this the damage to my stubbing my toe, for instance is causing activity in such in such a brain region. We don't need to know that when I see something beautiful that it's there's activity in certain regions of my visual cortex. We don't need to know all these grisly neuroscientific details, we just need to know what it what it how it affects us. Is it nice? Is it nasty? Does it is it like something else that we experienced? Does it? Is it something you want to recommend something you want to tell people to avoid? How does it relate in very abstract terms to other kinds of experiences, and to set into other behaviors? Okay, so we just have this abstract notion of pain is just this bad thing, this horrible thing, this awful thing. Now, what we're actually tracking, there is a hugely complex, reactive state that is that exists because of what the brain is doing. We don't need to know all those details. We just need to know it's that state that you want to avoid, right? That one now. And it's precisely because we have such so little information about the nature of the state, that we tend to think that the state isn't isn't a brain state isn't a reactive state isn't even physical at all. All we know is it's that thing that we don't like. So it's the nature has given us a very simplified conception of our own inner life, inner here, being in quite a literal sense of what's happening inside us of our own physiological, psychological, behavioral state. It's allowed us to attract that but it's given us such a simplified schematic sense of it, that we tend to think that it isn't even a physiological state or psychological state or at all. It's something extra, right? So it's the limitations of our own self conception that lead us to thinking but as an extra world,
Stephen Bradford Long 34:48 right. And you know, you keep referring to the boundary between there the inner life, this this feeling that you have a A sense of self that is behind your eyes, usually behind your face. And accompanying that is all your inner thoughts and emotions. But then we have this feeling of the outer world, we have the tactile sensation on our skin, we have the visual field, we have sound, etc. And so I'm a meditator, I meditate with Sam Harris. And one of the things that is really interesting, while practicing some forms of meditation is how that barrier breaks down. And you can actually like, if you pay close enough attention, you can actually experience the boundary between your inner that that realizing that the inner world of thoughts and feelings and emotions and then the the quote, unquote, outer world of stimuli, visual stimuli, tactile sensation, auditory experience, olfactory experience, that that boundary is actually false, that is an illusion, and that all of these things are actually taking place in in this same undefined sphere is and it's, I'm using all metaphorical language here, because it's hard to capture. But there is the realization, you know, if you in meditation, paying close enough attention to that experience of inner and outer. If we do that, then we realize that there is no inner and outer there is just there, there is just this undefined state. Does that makes sense? Am I Am I
Keith Frankish 36:49 Yes. I wish I knew more about meditation to be able to engage with that in a really sophisticated way. But let me let me just say this, I, I do want to talk about an inner world. But spatially inner world is the world of what's happening inside our bodies. Right? Right. Right. And this is Inner Inner.
Stephen Bradford Long 37:11 So you lean in. So you mean it in a literal sense, not in a not in an experiential sense, we,
Keith Frankish 37:19 our brains, our sensory systems are tracking features of the world around us around us and features of ourselves.
Stephen Bradford Long 37:25 So you're defined, right? So you mean it in a in a very literal way. Whereas what I was just describing is experiential,
Keith Frankish 37:32 that, that tracking the world around us and the world inside us literally inside, right? processes of interoception, which tracking states of our bodies, processes of introspection, I think we're tracking states of our brains. Okay. So we are our brains, we aren't our brains, we are our own bodies, we are the brains embodied in, in our bodies, and in our environment. But let's, let's say our brains, our brains are tracking the world out there. And they're tracking the world in here. But the, the, the part of the world out there that is inside my, my skin if you like, okay, and that creates the sense of there being a dualism, because we're tracking out of stuff and innocent. But actually, it's all part. In the end, it's all part of the same reality. tracking what's happening in me isn't tracking something that is distinct ontologically metaphysically distinct for what's out there. It's just a complex part of what's out there that is sort of located here. And it's tracking itself. Yes. Okay. So there really isn't a sharp boundary between the inner and the outer. There's just a complex world, part of which is tracking both the world around it and itself. But there's no sharp ontological separation between the inner and the outer. It's, it's all it's all one. So in that sense, that's that that agrees with what you're saying about the dissolution of this boundary. And I think what we have, as we talked about, we who's we, in all of this, because we're talking about brains with different bodies. But I'm also talking about what we think what we've who's we here? Well, essentially, I think we is where the public relations department of all of this, I am kind of snoring I tell you, I can tap all kinds of information about what's happening around me and what's happening inside me. And I can put this into a communicable form. I can say, I'm seeing this. I'm seeing something over there. And then I can tell you how I'm feeling about what I'm seeing out there the other day, it's frightening me or it is pleasant. It's tempting me or tasting this and it's it's really nice and it takes a look and talk about how the what I'm tasting I can say this, this this can say this tastes of coffee. And I can say whether I like the taste that coffee taste and so I can talk about this interplay between the properties of the thing that and the prop and the reactions it's creating in me, and it was like going with it. So, we, we are the, I think we're the storyteller who coming up with all these statements about how things, how things are affecting me, what I'm detecting up there, and how it's affecting me. And I am just the sort of the locus of all these all these interactions with the world. Okay. And so I put it in terms of, I am experiencing this, I am reacting in this way. And so it's, it's, it arises from the communicative function of all of this. Okay? You could just, you could say, I am just the, the, the, the, the, the, the organism, the person, the Animate body. And so that's one sense, but we also use it to express the character of the interaction that this body is having with the world. Right. And this seems to be something more internal. Because after all, the reaction is something that I can I can directly report to you. I can say the coffee tastes bad. Okay. Well, that's directly reporting on an interaction, which, as you say, I don't, I don't need to know that it's grounded in in sensory systems in migraine, I don't need to know what exactly it is the time detecting a coffee. It's just an interaction between the reporter hear me and the coffee. I say, I don't like it. That again, that I isn't, isn't it's a way of expressing the interaction, rather than a label for something inside, right, that is experiencing and the interaction if you like, and
Stephen Bradford Long 41:48 at no point in that process, does this mystical additional property appear? So it's almost like you don't need your comms razor? You there's no no necessary. No, no additional unnecessary entities. Absolute in that process. Yeah. Okay. So that makes that makes complete sense. And the thought is
Keith Frankish 42:09 that if you spelled out in enough detail, I mean, I've just been just I've been talking about self monitoring systems and interactions. And I've been just, and communication I've been talking extremely schematic, sketchy ways. Not surprisingly, I'm talking about a system that is 86 billion neurons that we only have that the, the the crudest understanding of at the moment, but the thought is if we could tell that story in enough detail about the nature of the interaction of what's going off, and how the nature of its own self awareness and its own self monitoring, and how that results in beliefs, and intuitions and things that we want to share with each other, if we could tell that story enough, Anita was see that there was just the idea that there needed to be something else, as well as all of that will just drop out just as once we see, we understand the process the biological processes. In a living organism, right down to the cellular level, the sub cellular level, the way that the cells are specialized and organized into organs and their organs connected up when we talk tell all of that story in enough detail about the developmental side within the kinetic side of it. amazingly complex. No, but once you've told her that story, if we could, it's no need for any extra vital spirit, extra essence of life beyond all of that, in a way, the the the, the notion of a vital spirit is just a sort of shorthand for our ignorance. Yeah, it's a god. Yeah. And yes, yes. That's how I think the philosopher's concept of consciousness is just a label for our ignorance of the complexity that's really going on that. Now you might say, Well, okay, well, that's okay. We're ignorant. Yeah, we have a label for it. Yes, that's okay. As long as you recognize that, that's what it is, where it becomes dangerous and lead you down a dead end is when you start to think that it isn't just a label for our lack of knowledge of something, it's actually a label for our positive knowledge of something mysterious, right, which then needs to be accommodated within our view of reality. And you start wondering how the brain produces isn't whether electrons have it and how it can be sure other people have eaten new fish have it or not, and you think of it as an inner light that is mysterious and private, and, and you start doing a lot of philosophy, written ways or frankly, wasting a lot of time. theorize about something that is merely a lack of knowledge.
Stephen Bradford Long 44:44 Right. Right. So Philip Goff talks about especially at the end of his book, he talks about how he believes that pan psychism and and for the uninitiated listening pan psychism again, is the believe that consciousness is a fundamental feature of reality. And he says that, that pan psychism might help people cultivate a greater sense of being at home in the universe, and that maybe we would treat nature better, maybe, you know, he says, Well, if the rainforest is teeming with consciousness, I think was the phrase he used, then maybe we would treat it differently, and maybe we would not be in the environmental catastrophe that we're in now. And so he really believes that, or suggests that there might be some real life tangible consequences and positive consequences and how we treat other people and how we treat the planet, and how we feel we might fit in how might illusionism affect how we interact with others? So if if it how might this tangibly impact how we treat other human beings and ourselves?
Keith Frankish 46:06 Yes, that's a great question. Well, I think I think it has positive effects, probably under understood, and it's properly understood, I shouldn't say I think, I don't think we should judge views. Simply on that on there, I don't think we should judge views by their ethical consequences, because it could be that the truth is
Stephen Bradford Long 46:28 horrible. It's horrible, me that the truth is terrifying.
Keith Frankish 46:33 It would be nicer to believe in life after death, right? Like to believe in that. But I kind of been deceiving myself if I did. So I don't think we should just, we should say, if a view is unpleasant, we should, we should reject it just for that, though, we should be much more cautious about it. Because if a view is going to have dangerous consequences, then we should be much more careful about asserting it, which will make sure we're really really confident of its truth before we we we go about promoting it. But I think in the case of illusionism I think I see the implications is really benign, and actually not so different from one's Phillips, you look at it like this, if you think of consciousness as this radically private in a world that is not this somehow separate from in some way separate from from from the public world. So only I really I can I can experience my conscience I know it's like, but no one else can no one can see the hologram. But me now this puts a barrier between us. After all, consciousness is supposed to be the most important thing, the nature of our consciousness is supposed to be the most important thing, what it's like for me, what it's like for you what it's like for other creatures. This is supposed to be the most important thing, the most morally significant feature of our existence is what it's like for us, I guess, one of them a very important one anyway. Now, if we suppose that that's radically private, and then accessible, then we can never really know the most important is this very important ethical fact about it about other creatures, we can never even be sure that they have this in our life. We've asked our fish conscious. And what they were asking there, I think often is, is there this private inner world inside officials, behind officials eyes where the eyes look rather dead and cold? Does it have this private in a world? Behind them? Are the other lights on inside? And the thing is, there's nothing we can do? To? To answer that question, we can map it to brain processes, we can compare that ask whether it has similar sorts of brain, how similar its brains are to ours. And we could we can maybe hypothesize that certain features in our brains are important for consciousness and ask whether the fish have those processes, but we can never be sure precisely because there's a hard problem in relating brain processes to this private world of consciousness, we can never bridge that gap. So you can never be sure that any other creature has this. And so it radically privatizers consciousness privatizers this locus of ethical significance. And it means we can never really know what it's like to be a fish, what it's like to be a bat or even really what it's like to be another person. Now I reject that view. I don't think there is anything radically part of it in that way, I think what they're, what is what we have organisms reacting to the world in massively complex ways, ways that it's very difficult for us to, to, to map and to describe that which are not in principle, hidden from us if we've studied the fish carefully enough studied in it in exhaustive detail, what effects different stimuli have on it not just on it, how it moves and behaves, but on what happens inside it on its feet. theology on its psychology, on its reactions at the finest grained level, then we wouldn't know what impact. We wouldn't know whether it's in pain, we wouldn't know what it's like to be the fish, because talking about pain is just a very sketchy way of talking about the impact that things make on it, but make on an organism. So what this does is it removes the barriers between us. And it didn't, instead of saying, Oh, I can't know what that what that person feels like, it's missing me what's going on it? No reason you don't know, you? Can't? You don't know. It's because you haven't studied carefully enough. And I think we can, I think we can see the truth of this. I think if you think about a relationship you have with someone very close to you, and how if you've lived with someone for a long time, observe them. Not just as a scientist, but just as someone who shares the same space with them, you begin to understand how, what the world is like for them? How things affect them, how they react, not just on a sort of overt level, what makes them angry, what makes them so you understand? How things affect them, psychologically, you understand? What's happening inside them as it were, you understand what memory is that's that that's conjuring up what associations What fears, what doubts and so on, you begin, you know, that certain stimuli will create this pattern of effect, and you begin to know what it's like to be them. And illusionism offers the hope of knowing each other and knowing the, the rest of the of the animal world. So I think it's, it's an encouragement to pay more attention to each other and to the rest of the animal world. Because if
Stephen Bradford Long 51:46 there is this fundamentally mysterious kind of ghost in the machine, yeah, well, then that is ultimately alienating, but painful, because then that means that we can never access the ghost in the other machines, the ghosts in the other machines and know that that that makes sense. And, you know, when I was reading also, I think, sorry, no, no, go on, go on go on.
Keith Frankish 52:17 The other side is that it also tends to inflate our own sense of own importance, because we're not just complex bits of the living world, like trees and things that we don't think of as being conscious, have waterfalls and trees and the environment, generally, we have this special spark in silence. Right? That makes you know, that the lights are on inside. And that makes us more important. And now that we certainly are more, we certainly react in a much more complex way to the world. But it doesn't we're not metaphor, I don't think we're metaphysically sort of different from waterfalls and trees and, and other things that we don't think of as having this in our life. Okay. And so I, I see this view as routing as both encouraging empathy. And, to some extent, deflating egoism. Yeah. And encouraging a view of us as being just very complex bits of the world.
Stephen Bradford Long 53:08 Yeah. And, you know, one of the things that I found myself thinking while reading the into Phillips book, and I like his book, and I encourage everyone to read it, it's a fantastic book. But this sense of alienation from the universe, because we have this conscious self and the rest of the universe does not feel conscious, it does not it the rest of the universe feels dead in comparison to our consciousness, and therefore there is this innate sense of homelessness, and alienation. And I'm like, Well, isn't this all just a matter of framing? Isn't this sense of alienation? Just a matter of framing because the universe we can't we came from the universe we are the universe we are i It's like Douglas Adams saying, we are like the, the puddle that the I forget the exact metaphor, you know, we are perfectly fitted to the universe in the same way the puddle is perfectly fitted. Well, the reason is because the universe is what gives us our shape, our form, our our chemistry, all of that we are the universe, we are of the universe, and we are the universe. And so isn't this sense of alienation, just a matter of framing? And so if we see ourselves as as these fundamentally spiritual beings in the universe is fundamentally material and dead Well, then, yeah, we'll probably feel some alienation or we could frame it in the opposite direction, we could frame it as we are. We, the universe is our home we we evolved in this universe through natural through natural selection, and, and so on and so forth. And so isn't this feeling of alienation just a matter of framing? And that's that was the thought that I found myself having while reading the A passage.
Keith Frankish 55:00 That's that's that's prospective. It's very congenial to me. And I think to the, to the way that I've been that I look at this, another thing that this does is in, in removing the mysterious extra I think it focuses our attention back on the wondrous, what do I want to say? In suppose that there's something non physical, in addition to all the wondrous physical complexity it, it tends to diminish our sense of the wonder of that physical complexity. It's like, well, cause the brain is doing marvelous things are wonderful, and so on. But that's not really the story. The story is this extra thing that comes in and somehow the brain produces. And that's where the wonder and the mystery of alien, I started wondering, the mystery lies in what the brain has been shaped to do by hundreds of 1000s of years, hundreds of millions, I don't want to say billions of years of natural selection, yes. Which has shaped it to do wondrous things. What's wondrous about the brain is not that it produces some special sauce that some extra it's that it does wondrous things. And that's one it's a and similarly with midlife life is one reason by supposing that there's a hard problem here is, is locating all the wonder in the wrong place. It's it, there's this common the example of Mary, the scientist who's studied vision, but has never experienced so I can, I can wait marry black and white, maybe she's studied color vision and shaped the neuroscience of color vision, but she's never actually experienced color herself. She's she's lived in a black and white environment. But she knows everything about the neuroscience of vision. Now, the idea is that she's cut off from the essence of vision, because she's never actually experienced it. Well, I think, in a way no, she's she is if you take seriously ideas, she really understands how vision works, color vision worked, she she's she's she understands the miss the wonder of it better than anyone. Sure she has not been out in the world and learn to communicate about it in the way but the rest of us have to learn to apply these concepts to our own. But she knows the wonder of television better than anyone. We it's, it's a searching for words, sake. But it's it's one of the frustrations, I guess I feel with with a lot of, I suppose religious discourse is that it kind of locates the source of value and meaning in the wrong place. It puts it in some extra Monday, out of this world out of ourselves that we bring the value we bring the wonder, yes. And we also bring the we bring that, you know, having them we also bring the hell as well. We don't need to externalize it, it's in US and in our interactions. And that's where we need to work on it instead of you know, putting it in some in some in some external realm.
Stephen Bradford Long 58:04 As my friend Shiva honey says, You are the magic. Yes, it's yes, you are, you are the magic. And yeah, for listeners of my show will know who, who and what I'm talking about. So in the last, Sorry, go on.
Keith Frankish 58:20 That's right. This is one thing that I should say that there's some I don't want to get persuade anyone, but I'm often labeled A physicalist. I would accept that label. But it's often seen as, as a pejorative label as if, physically some people want to take all the meaning and wonder out of the world and just reduce everything to mechanisms. And say that nobody really feels anything and thinking really means anything. And it's all just a dead mechanical work. I don't disagree with that perspective, more, I think, just I think some physicalists do materialist Do do do tend to project that picture that image a little bit and and that don't they bother me? Because I think that so much wonder, and magic real magic. Yeah, not made up magic, you know, that we've invented because we don't really know the explanation. There's real magic happening. We don't and when we can understand it. If we study hard enough, the consciousness is real. All right. And it's and it's wonderful and magical. But it's not something that's set apart in a distinct in a distinct we started. We don't it's not another kind of thing. It's just a very complex, kind of, we need to look at the complexity is where the magic is,
Stephen Bradford Long 59:44 you know, I've been reading some Steven Pinker lately and he talks about you know, how language works in the brain and all of this stuff and just just reading his analyses of language and and how language works in the human brain and just being an absolute all of that process. It is, it is the closest thing to real magic that I've ever experienced, is come real contact with the real world and these real processes, it is the closest thing to real magic. And is
Keith Frankish 1:00:26 on the surface, absolutely alone is scratching the surface. Imagine what it's going to be like, when, a couple of 100 years when we have a much deeper understanding of these things.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:00:35 Absolutely. Before we wrap up, do you have any questions for me?
Keith Frankish 1:00:39 Well, I don't I confess I haven't been following your podcast so much. So I don't know the things you talk about. You did mention that you describe yourself as a Satanist. That's right. And at first I was a little What's that mean? And then I had a look at the the website of the of the Satanic Temple, Satanic Temple. And I looked and I thought, well, this seems very congenial. Actually seem, it seemed. So it's it seemed like a I guess a lot of it seemed like a form of humanism, but with perhaps with a sort of more punky edge, or Yeah. Rebellious edge to it. Yeah,
Stephen Bradford Long 1:01:28 absolutely.
Keith Frankish 1:01:29 So I just wondered, I can. And so I just wondered why, it seems it's it's a sort of somewhat aggressive description of what seems really actually very compassionate and humane worldviews. I just wondered why you why you? Is it just do? Is it just a reaction against oppression and authority? And the idea? It's a bit like Milton's Satan, who was rebelling against the dictatorship of God? Is that the idea that it's an expression of, of resistance to authority?
Stephen Bradford Long 1:02:07 Yeah, well, and the key phrase is undue authority. So not all authority is bad, right? Not all, not all authority is abusive. So it has no problem with authority necessarily, or my Satanism doesn't necessarily have a problem with authority. It's undue authority. And so it and you know, I think a lot of it also has to do with you so so people very often have a negative reaction to the name Satan. And as you just said, it feels very aggressive. And it feels, I don't feel that. And so I sometimes wonder if like, so I see the imagery of Satanism, I see the imagery of the Baphomet, which is our our statue that we put that the Satanic Temple puts on government property as a counterpoint to the 10 commandments to express genuine pluralism and I just see, I just see it as beautiful, I see it as lovely. And, and I don't have that same reaction. And so I wonder, there are times when I really wonder if like, my disgust response is just not like, non existent. And so but I hear that that reaction, and that disgust from a lot of people. For me, it's really rooted in my experience of being queer, and my experience of being an outsider and church. And so there's this deep association with the outsider. And I think part of the reason why it is fundamentally uncomfortable is because the outsider is almost always uncomfortable. Yes, you know, and so, the same feeling that we have towards the name Satan is very often is, you know, through history, the same feeling that people have had towards minorities. And so it's actually kind of a very tangible connection with the implications of being an outsider. And, and part of the point for me is, oh, that feeling of disgust is actually very misleading. That's part of it. The you know, the moving from disgust to humanity as a necessary process and the initial the initial disgust or or shock that we might feel at the outsider, and Satan is the ultimate outsider. That's the same shock and disgust that we feel towards all outsiders. And the key one for me personally, one of the points of Satanism is to realize, oh, that emotion is unreliable. And so Satanism is a meta commentary on that whole process that, that Satan is is a you know, in our Satan, you know, the Satan of the Satanic Temple is first of all a metaphorical figure we don't literally believe in him but which is very important that people grasp. But but the dis, the shock or the disgust or the kind of wincing away, that's how we have responded to the outsiders throughout history. And, and so Satanism I feel like it can't be cozy while also advocating for the outsider, because the very act of advocating for the outsider is deeply uncomfortable.
Keith Frankish 1:05:43 I do like that you articulated that very, very eloquent way. And I do I mean, after all, religion, formal religion has been used to define nationalities and ethnicities. And so it directs us to the way of defining them and does and it's it's been motivated, motivated, conflict and war and exclusion. And the authorities that have controlled it, as you say, manipulated people's feelings of disgust and so through exactly through the imagery and propaganda, to represent the the other, the people who are outside the, the ethnic boundary, but as as as as disgusting. So that makes a lot of sense to me. So I like that.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:06:33 And, you know, the church invented Satanism, the the church, the Catholic Church, and I was talking with Joseph Laycock, who is a religious scholar, and he, he wrote the book on the Satanic Temple called Speak of the devil. And so I was having him on the show, and he was and he's Catholic. And he's, but he's very supportive of the temple. And he studies us as a new religious movement. And it was like, so do you. So you're Catholic, like, how do you deal with this? And he was like, Well, you know, the Catholic Church invented Satanism. In the Middle Ages, you know, the Catholic Church invented the concept of Satanism. So it's almost like I'm checking in on my kids making sure my kids are doing well. But he's right, that the, the church created the concept of Satanism as a weapon against mostly Jewish people. Yes. And against Christian heretics, they worshipped Satan, they, and they did unspeakably awful things to the Eucharist, and so on. And so there's this long process of, of attribution, slowly turning into identification. And that has been my personal process. So I'm gay. And I went through exorcisms in the church and I was told continually that I, that there was something fundamentally demonic about me. And, and so it and so the sense of being an outsider is very deeply connected to who I am as a person. And so it and what I have come to find is that now there is actually quite, there's quite a bit to embrace there, there's actually quite a bit of empowerment in, in standing in solidarity with the outsider, and kind of
Keith Frankish 1:08:28 which, of course, was what the founder of Christianity did. Exactly. So maybe he was maybe the he would have identified more with with your,
Stephen Bradford Long 1:08:40 I like to think that he would, absolutely was
Keith Frankish 1:08:43 certainly they will. He was it was accused of hanging around with low life types and not following the dietary laws and generally, being a disreputable salt who didn't, didn't conform. So yeah, and of course, the other name for Satan of course is Lucifer which means the light
Stephen Bradford Long 1:09:05 the light bringer which is Yeah, and so I personally connect that to, to the end to enlightenment values to science to inquiry to asking questions to questioning everything to genuine skepticism. And so I I tie that in to the scientific method to and so on and so forth.
Keith Frankish 1:09:31 So if the orthodox view of consciousness is the is the one that's rooted somehow in dualism, can we then suggest that the Satanist altered the delusion ism is the satanists position on consciousness?
Stephen Bradford Long 1:09:46 So fortunately, so. So, you know, in a, in a kind of basic sense, all satanist means is someone who revered the symbol of Satan. So that's a very, very broad definition So I know Satanists who are theistic there say the majority of Satanists will be non theistic, but I know many Satanists who take the view that you take, and so I've had conversations with, they, my friend, penname, who says that Satanism is a carnal religion, and he doesn't mean that in terms of kinky sex, but he, he means that in terms of it is a religion of the body, it is a it is a, it is a religion of the body, and and, first and foremost, being concerned with matters of the physical and the body and seeing all things taking place on this plane of existence, on the material plane, and so there and then consciousness, what we experience as consciousness would also be carnal in that way.
Keith Frankish 1:10:50 So that's, that's, that's, that's where it all matters. That's, yeah, it's, it's, it's not in some I some strange metaphysical realm that consciousness consciousness is here and our interaction with the world and things impinging on US and US reacting to them, this, it's I like to use a metaphor, some, like a bell that we're like bells on the world as striking as and we're making these reverberating with them. And that's where the action is in this interview, in this interaction between us and the rest of the world.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:11:26 And that's where our ethical concerns are too. And so I believe I personally like to think of so a longtime symbol of Satanism, you'll see on my neck, I have the pentagram here. And so the pentagram, the, the traditional pentagram, the fifth point is pointed up, yeah, you can just barely see it on there, there's near the five points of the pentagram, but traditionally, that that point is pointing up, and I take that to mean that our concern that the concern is spiritual, it is up it is, it is up to the metaphysical it is towards the ethereal and the metaphysical, but Satanists invert that. And to me, that that represents the concern with the material and that our ethical concerns, first and foremost are grounded in the material. And and in material conditions and, and the, with how we treat our neighbor here and now in in the material. And it it is about the material here and now and not about the hereafter.
Keith Frankish 1:12:36 Absolutely. You've been very eloquent. And that's, I guess my, my sort of background was kind of watching Hammer Horror movies in the in the night. Yes. I adore Hammer Horror. But I like this. It's, it's, it makes a lot of sense. What I mean, as you say, there are strong traditions with certain within Christianity, speaking up for the of the outsider and identifying with the outsider. And it's so ironic that the institution of religion has has, has created its own class of outsiders that it can't empathize with precisely because it's defined them as without, without outside itself
Stephen Bradford Long 1:13:23 outside grace. Yeah, exactly. So exactly. Well, I don't want to take up any more of your time, but this has. This has been great. And I've really enjoyed it for people to who want to discover more of your work. Where can they do that? Do you have a website online that they can go to?
Keith Frankish 1:13:43 Yes, there's a lot of stuff on my website. It's just my name. Keith Frankish ke i th fra en Kish all one word.com. Perfect. I'm also on Twitter. I'm quite active on Twitter so you can find me there and very talk about philosophy and also about a little bit of silliness as well.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:14:05 Beautiful. All right, well, it has been great and I've thoroughly enjoyed this.
Keith Frankish 1:14:10 We do. Thank you. Thank you for inviting me. I've really enjoyed it. Well, that is
Stephen Bradford Long 1:14:13 it for this show. The theme song is wild by eleventy seven you can find it on Apple Music or Spotify or wherever you listen to music. This show is written produced and edited by me Steven Bradford long, it is supported by my patrons and it is a production of rock candy recordings as always Hail Satan, and thanks for listening