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Multiple Drafts Versus the Cartesian Theater



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Chapter Five Multiple Drafts Versus the Cartesian Theater 1 THE POINT OF VIEW OF THE OBSERVER In this chapter we get a look at Dennett s model for the mental processes we call consciousness He will claim that some of the most perplexing paradoxes of consciousness arise because we cling too long to a good habit of thought a habit that usually keeps us out of trouble Just like the pleasure boater who charts his safe course by aiming at a buoy and then distractedly runs right into it There is no question that where there is a consciousness mind there is also a point of view The flash and then later bang of the fireworks is an example of this point of view But what happens when we close in on the observer and try to locate this point of view within the brain The simple assumptions that worked so well on larger scales begin to breakdown on closer examination Dennett maintains that there is no single point in the brain where the information funnels in where it all comes together for central processing This has some far from obvious and quite counter intuitive consequences Descartes thought hard about this problem but he decided that the brain DID have a center the pineal gland He proposed that for a person to be conscious of something traffic from the senses had to arrive at this location where it then caused a special indeed magical transaction to occur between the person s material brain and immaterial mind And although today no one seriously believes there is a physical center to the brain a Cartesian bottleneck of dualism even sophisticated materialists often forget that once Descartes s ghostly res cogitans is discarded there is no longer a role for a centralized gateway or indeed for any functional center to the brain The pineal gland nor any other physical feature is not the fax machine to the soul nor is it the Oval Office of the brain There is no observer gland inside the brain Although we may discard the anatomical baggage of Descartes dualism it is harder to



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