Donald Hoffman on Consciousness, Reality... and Mathematical Models

Updated: Jan 31

Donald Hoffman sometimes attempts to distance himself from those New Agers who have very similar views on consciousness and "reality". On the other hand, he's very keen to play on the fact that such people find many connections between their own views and his own work.

As for Hoffman distancing himself from New Agers: how does he do that? He does that primarily by using the words "precise mathematical model"... again and again and again. Having said that, New Agers - just like Creationists - are also very keen on using mathematical equations and scientific jargon.

Hoffman claims that he offers us a

"precise mathematical model of agents having subjective experiences".

Yet he doesn't explain that mathematical model - at least not in interviews or seminars. And neither does he explain what he means by "mathematical model" (or give any examples) when he frequently mentions such a thing. Instead, Hoffman simply keeps on using the words "precise mathematical model"..

Hoffman also seems to believe that many philosophers are (still) Identity Theorists (in the Old Style, circa the 1950s). I would say that there are about one or two who hold that position. (I'm being rhetorical here.) I even doubt that there are that many neuroscientists who are (strict) Identity Theorists; though some anti-physicalists claim that all neuroscientists are. (Hoffman doesn't tackle the existence of eliminativists at all.)

Hoffman's knowledge of philosophy is poor. His philosophising is poorer still. That doesn't really matter - he's a scientist (i.e., a cognitive scientist/cognitive psychologist). However, he's a scientist who not only repeatedly uses philosophical terms: he's also a scientist who's offering us a thoroughly philosophical position on consciousness and reality.

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