I have updated my web page on Skeptical Fallicies to include a section explaining why Consciousness Cannot be Explained as an Emergent Property of the Brain
Some skeptics, when asked to explain how consciousness is produced by the brain will say it is an emergent property. They may say the complexity of the brain somehow causes consciousness to emerge. This is not an actual explanation, it is just a scientific sounding way to say that they cannot explain it. It creates the impression of an explanation without offering any actual explanation.
An emergent property is a property that is not necessarily caused by the individual parts of a system but emerges when they are arranged in a certain fashion. For example, a wheel rolls. This is not necessarily a property of matter. Matter might be formed into a solid cube which does not roll. But when matter is arranged in a wheel, it will roll.
However, merely stating something is an emergent property is not an explanation. Saying consciousness is an emergent property of the brain does not explain consciousness. When you examine a wheel you can understand why it will roll. The laws of physics explain how the ability to roll is caused by a particular arrangement of matter. When you examine a brain you cannot tell how it produces the subjective experiences of consciousness. Physics cannot explain how the subjective experiences of consciousness, what it is like to feel happy, or what it is like to see blue, or what it is like to feel pain, will arise from a particular arrangements of neurons in the brain.
When skeptics say consciousness is an emergent property of the brain, that is not an explanation of consciousness. It is a rhetorical trick used because they cannot explain how consciousness is produced by the brain. They are only applying a scientific sounding name to fool people, including themselves, into thinking it is an explanation.
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