Lots of work progress: preparing some ideas for a session with two outstanding scientists next week.
Someone is worried about the "virtual self model" ideas of Metzinger. Scientifically it may well be that our idea of our selves is composed through a number of complex and disparate mechanisms, indeed it is hard to see how it could be otherwise. But philosophically it makes no sense at all to describe this as an illusion:
- The conclusion “the self is an illusion” cannot possibly follow from an observation like “the self arises through the interaction of a number of complex and disparate mechanisms”. With the possible exception of elementary particles, everything arises through such interactions. Metzinger might as well say “the body is an illusion” or “the brain is an illusion”.
- To have an illusion presupposes that there is a conscious self which holds the false belief. If there were no conscious selves there could be no illusions.
Each of these objections is in my view catastrophic for Metzinger’s philosophical position. And I note that "virtual self model" hasn't made it into the scientific literature yet.
The meltdown on Dawkins' website doesn't suprise me. His cult of personality is absurd and dangerous. Very few scientists take him seriously, and after this, even less so.