There's a discussion about philosophical zombies and illusionism going on in The Symposium, which is the main chat room for Philosophy on Stack Exchange and Conifold posted this a day or two ago (the Chat timestamp is
I am skeptical of illusionism (about consciousness), but not for the usual reasons that it is counterintuitive or “crazy”.
I just do not find the motivation minimally attractive. It is quite transparent that the only connotation of “illusion” of interest is that what is so called can be set aside. It is designed to solve a metaphysical problem for physicalism, which is seen as struggling to accommodate qualia. I submit that this perceived problem is itself an illusion.
Let me explain. There is no reason why objects should not have qualities, 1-place relations. On the other hand, physics, and science generally, are designed to represent only structural information (about 2 and more place relations) for the simple reason that only it can be represented (modeled) and communicated. Qualities must be lost in any structural representation by their definition.
So we have a ready made metaphysical shelf (qualities) and a phenomenon begging to fill it (qualia). Yes, technically, qualia are something “science cannot explain”. But that is the real illusion. It is so only for the trivial reason that “explaining” is meaningless here, asking for structural models of qualities (which is what is meant by “explanation”) is non-sensical.
And even if we do manage to write them off as “illusion”, we will still have to explain why our world was so handicapped as to have 2+-place relations but not 1-place ones.
Let me call structural physicalism a position that all structural (non-quality) information is describable by physics/science. It achieves the exact same thing that illusionists want from the “illusion” without all the pain, qualia can be set aside as qualities and forgotten about. Existence of qualities does not threaten the physicalist program at all.
If we can map neural correlates of “conscious experience” why should we care that the map does not contain the accompanying ‘feels’? We will even be able to induce the ‘feels’ themselves in individuals by stimulation, just not cross-compare them because, again, ‘comparing’ qualities is non-sensical. Only structure can be divorced from its original carrier, lifted and transferred, i.e. ‘compared’.
And the pain that structural physicalism avoids is great indeed. Until recently, illusionists ignored that their use of “illusion” does not fit into the paradigmatic examples of optical or cognitive illusions and did not explain what they mean beyond vague metaphors. To use “illusion” as normally understood a seeming is needed as a background, making the seeming itself into an illusion does not work. Just as making into an illusion existence of someone who wants to assert it does not work.
This is what Wittgenstein called “bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language”, pushing words beyond their usefulness. Kammerer recently acknowledged this as “illusion meta-problem”. His solution is that the “illusion” does not really mean what one might think it means, other than having the desired side effect of setting something aside.
Essentially, he has a “phenomenality operator” that does what qualities would do, “coloring experience”, only it is anchored in the subject rather than in objects, hence “illusion”. This strikes me as more Kantian than physicalist, and more a theory of qualia than of them being an illusion in any normal sense. And a very convoluted solution to a non-existent problem.
I tried to understand, but I couldn't, and Google seems not to have heard of the phrases I took from here and used as search strings.
But then by searching "place relations in philosophy", Google started to understand. I found this: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/relations/ and this:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relations_(philosophy)
Unfortunately, I still don't understand Conifold's argument, mainly because I can't understand the SEP and Wikipedia articles.
In layman's terms, what is this argument saying?