University of Bath

Are We Real? Consciousness and Fiction

The University of Bonn's Professor Markus Gabriel discusses fiction as a component of human thought and ideology.

21 Jun 20185.15pm
21 Jun 20187.00pm
Are We Real? Consciousness and Fiction
Are We Real? Consciousness and Fiction

On Thursday 21 June, Professor Markus Gabriel of the University of Bonn will present a public lecture at the University of Bath.

It is a widespread believe in our contemporary natural scientific culture that central features of our mind are fictions or illusions of sorts. The prominent philosopher Daniel Dennett even claims that illusionism about phenomenal consciousness (our qualitative experience of reality as rich with colors, sounds, tastes, smells, etc.) should be “the obvious default theory of consciousness.” Remarkably, illusionists about consciousness typically do not offer actual error theories that tell us in what precise sense consciousness counts as a fiction or an illusion. In this lecture, Professor Gabriel will argue that this blind spot is not a coincidence, but rather a consequence of theoretical deficiencies in the hypothesis of illusionism itself.

In his talk, Professor Gabriel will dismantle the assumptions motivating views about ourselves as minded agents that claim that we are subject to some kind of user-illusion created by the brain (or some better specified subsystem of our organism). In this context, he will distinguish various forms of illusion about ourselves and argue that illusionism and fictionalism about the mental lives of humans (and other minded animals) are themselves cases of a thoroughgoing ideological delusion. They serve the function of denying facts that would otherwise lead to an insight into the normative dimension of the human being.

Professor Gabriel's talk will draw on his published works, including his new book I am Not a Brain, which is published by Polity Press.