Epiphenomenalism holds that conscious experience is an ineffectual by-product of brain activities. Eliminationists go further and add that this by-product is an illusion. I was wondering whether anyone in the debate has noticed the glaring epistemological absurdity of describing the basis of all our experience to be an illusion.
So let's see how we normally understand the notion of illusion. In routine cases, illusion is defined as a perception or thought that doesn't correspond to what's believed to be reality. I may hallucinate a phoenix but that would be an illusion for it doesn't correspond to anything in the outer world. I may believe Titans exist, but that's an illusion in that it's a false belief.
In these cases, I have a particular conscious mental state that I may or may not verify as illusion depending on whether or not it corresponds to something in the outer world. So illusion by normal account refers to truth value or correspondence of mental states. Therefore it's an epistemological category. And since there are possibility of true statements, I usually have a way of checking the correspondence/truth value of an experience/belief, and the verification usually involves further using my mind, i.e. using other mental states to determine the correspondence of a particular mental state in question.
However, it seems to be an entirely different thing to claim that rather than a particular mental state, my consciousness itself, that is the background and condition of all my mental states, is an illusion! It's hard not to see how this doctrine is glaringly contradictory for if my consciousness is an illusion how can anything I know and say be not? Under this absurdity, the statement "consciousness is an illusion" itself would be an illusion and therefore false!
This is because under illusionism/emilinationist, the very ground for verification is removed because like I said verification always involves relying on certain conscious mental state(s) to check the truth value/correspondence of some other conscious mental state(s). But if I claim that consciousness is an illusion, it extends to all my mental states. Therefore I lose any basis for checking whether anything else is true or not including this very doctrine. In other words eliminationism/illusionism amounts to epistemic suicide!
So what makes some intelligent philosophers of mind out there to propound such an absurdity in all seriousness?!