George Berkely: Esse est percipi

… but Hoffman does not believe that there is nothing out there, only that we are not capable to get it.

Galileo Gallilei said: “I think that tastes, odours, colours, and so on … reside in consciousness. Hence if the living creature were removed, all these qualities would be wiped out and annihilated.”. But he granted that a tomato which causes these experiences still exists as a body, shape and position. For these properties we see reality as it is. Hoffman encouraged by modern physics goes further: space-time belongs also to our perception. So the body, shape and position of a tomato is what we perceive, not what is. The consequence of this is that the tomato, as we know it, disappears when we do not perceive it!!! I see only my construction of reality, but there is reality out there: there are things that exist when no one sees them. For example: a molecule of C8H8O3 is real, but to us only as the smell and taste of vanilla, the latter requires a perceiver.

This reasoning pushed further gives at hand: given that we perceive our own physical body in the same way as a tomato, then it also disappears without our consciousness! Hence the physical body, including the brain, is secondary, not the origin of consciousness but rather a tool that consciousness uses to navigate and interact with the world. If you will uphold that your conscious experiences are physical, then tell me what is the mass of dizziness? The velocity of headache? The position of the wonder why she won’t call?

Neuroscientists have been searching for consciousness in the brain for several ages now with zero results, so Hoffman got tired. He proposes that consciousness is fundamental and not reducible to physical processes. Hoffman’s theory is stronger than Plato’s shadows of real things. There is no semblance between shadows and reality, e.g. the vanilla flavour and C8H8O3. We are immersed in our headset of time-space not in reality.

Steven Pinker: we humans have “some reliable notions about the distribution of middle sized objects around us.”

Our perception is limited. William Molyneux asked a question: if a man born blind can feel the differences between shapes such as spheres and cubes, could he, if given the ability to see, distinguish those objects by sight alone, in reference to the tactile schemata he already possessed?” The answer proved to be negative. For instance, a woman who gained sight at the age of 12 when she underwent surgery for dense bilateral congenital cataracts, could recognise family members by sight six months after surgery, but took up to a year to recognise most household objects purely by sight.

We benefit evolutionarily when only so much reality is revealed to us as allows us to survive and reproduce. It’s kind of like a computer screen with icons. We could never use a computer if we had to deal with electrical signals. We must have interface. The question is whether what we see is what we need to perceive for our survival (fitness) or whether it is the real reality we perceive.

But must fitness exclude truth?

Why do we see milky way, what value in fitness does it have to us? Hoffman answers: we misjudge distances to distant objects because they have low fitness payoff. What about mimicry: why nonpoisonous snakes evolve colouring to match poisonous snakes, if there is not objective reality to mimic?

Our limitations do not completely obscure reality. In real world it is crucial to make decisions in a timely manner. The upshot of this is that approximations which amount to falsehoods can be useful. However, this does not amount to a fundamental conflict between truth and fitness.
For example, we see just a part of the colour spectrum, but not infrared or ultraviolet. And surely our perception of light, colour and sound are just one mapping. But that does not mean they are completely orthogonal or uncorrelated with reality. Reality still shines through this filter. Scientific analysis, and measuring devices are not products of natural selection and evolution, so they do not have survival-oriented biases built into them. And mathematics and logic, equally are not evolutionary products, but axiomatic.

Fitness Beats Truth (FBT) is self refuting: if we cannot know anything about a world external to conscious minds, then how can Hoffman have found out that fact about just such a world? If perception of an external world is non-veridical, then so is any Hoffman theory built on it!

FBT relies on darwinism, which relies on evolution which proceeds in time. So either there is time or there is no evolution.

How can humans land spacecraft on the moon? By predicting what is in reality from theories, not by immediate perception. Does it further our fitness? Produce more offspring? The opposite is actually true: statistics show that the more we are learned the less children we produce.

Do you know you’re not in a dream?

Have you ever fallen from a great height in a dream? I have, many times. It did not kill me.