I found it from my brother, but only because I checked his site before A&L Daily.

The Edge has released answers by predominantly scientific thinkers to their question, “What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it.”

My brother finds some of the them surprising–I would be interested in knowing which ones, as most seemed to contained traditional beliefs in progress, science, discovering other intelligent life, etc. Broadly, it seems ID is in bad shape and belief in science is doing just fine, thank you. The merit of the article is that it does provide full answers (in most cases) from “experts.” It must be read in full, and really, my characterization is (by virtue of the thing characterized) necessarily lacking. However, it is a generalization that I think accurate.

My favorites:

Ned Block, Philosopher and Psychologist, New York University

I believe that the “Hard Problem of Consciousness” will be solved by conceptual advances made in connection with cognitive neuroscience. Let me explain. No one has a clue (at the moment) how to answer the question of why the neural basis of the phenomenal feel of my experience of red is the neural basis of that phenomenal feel rather than a different one or none at all. There is an “explanatory gap” here which no one has a clue how to close.
This problem is conceptually and explanatorily prior to the issue of what the nature of the self is, as can be seen in part by noting that the problem would persist even for experiences that are not organized into selves. No doubt closing the explanatory gap will require ideas that we cannot now anticipate. The mind-body problem is so singular that no appeal to the closing of past explanatory gaps really justifies optimism, but I am optimistic nonetheless.

In other words, there’s no reason at all to think that the gap between mind and body will ever be crossed, but he’s going to hope for it anyway!

On that “organized self,” try this excerpt from Susan Blackmore, Psychologist and Visiting Lecturer, University of the West of England, Bristol;

As for giving up the sense of an inner conscious self altogether—this is very much harder. I just keep on seeming to exist. But though I cannot prove it—I think it is true that I don’t.

Phew! What fun!

*Note–The excerpt seemed intelligible on it’s own, apart from her discussion of not having free will.

Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

  • Jim

    In other words, there’s no reason at all to think that the gap between mind and body will ever be crossed, but he’s going to hope for it anyway!To say “there’s no reason at all” is to overstate the case. When the mind-body problem was first presented, we didn’t even know what neurons are, never mind how neurotransmitters work, what REM sleep is or does, etc., etc. He’s “going to hope for it anyway” because progress, real progress, has already been made, and that conceptual leap might be waiting for the Einstein of consciousness.

  • Jim

    Oh, and the surprises: Philip Anderson on string theory, David Buss on true love, and Donald Hoffman on consciousness.

  • “The mind-body problem is so singular that no appeal to the closing of past explanatory gaps really justifies optimism, but I am optimistic nonetheless.”

    Can you account for this statement? What do you think he means here?

    The fact that we’ve made progress in neuroscience doesn’t mean we’ve made any progress in closing the gap. The terms have changed (from Aristotelian forms to nuerons and particles), but the discussion has remained the same. The above statement sounds almost like an “in principle” division between the mind and body–note that the fact that we have closed previous explanatory gaps gives him no justificationfor thinking that we’ll close this one. It seems like he’s optimistic without justification…

  • Jim

    Somehow I missed that line when reading it the first time (I blame italic type). In such a brief explanation, there’s little warrant for the claim that consciousness is a problem more “singular” than any other; I think of Daniel Dennett’s work in this area as a counterpoint. Block’s pessismism isn’t universal in the field.

  • “In such a brief explanation, there’s little warrant for the claim that consciousness is a problem more “singular” than any other; I think of Daniel Dennett’s work in this area as a counterpoint.”

    Just because there’s little justification in his explanation for the claim, doesn’t mean that little justification exists for it or that he doesn’t have much justification to make it. Disagreement in the field doesn’t reduce the force of his claim or lessen his justification, in fact. It would be fun to read a full-blown defense of this this statement.