- Many scientists believe that natural selection brought our perception of reality into clearer and deeper focus, reasoning that growing more attuned to the outside world gave our ancestors an evolutionary1 edge.
- Donald Hoffman, a cognitive scientist at the University of California, Irvine, thinks that just the opposite is true. Because evolution2 selects for survival, not accuracy, he proposes that our conscious experience masks reality behind millennia of adaptions for ‘fitness payoffs’ – an argument supported by his work running evolutionary3 game-theory simulations.
- In this interview recorded at the Howthelightgetsin Festival from the Institute of Arts and Ideas in 2019, Hoffman explains why he believes that perception must necessarily hide reality for conscious agents to survive and reproduce.
- With that view serving as a springboard, the wide-ranging discussion also touches on Hoffman’s consciousness-centric framework for reality, and its potential implications for our everyday lives.
- It was interesting to see Hoffman in action, as I’d not heard – or heard of – him before.
- His theory – that our evolutionary4 history has – and was bound to – give us zero insight into what the world is really like – is deeply implausible. I’d be interested to see the work by Chetan Prakash that allegedly proves this. As Amazon reviewers have suggested, if we are so unsure that we know anything about reality, how do we even know that we have evolutionary5 origins, though this may be a bit quick.
- Also, I dislike the idealist / panpsychist approach of taking consciousness as foundational. While is dissolves the “Hard Problem” of consciousness, it does so at too high a cost.
- As I have no text of this talk to make comments against, I’ll restrict myself to the above here. Further comments of Hoffman’s work will appear under one or more of:-
Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2020
- Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)