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Hoffman's Conscious Realism:
A Critical Review

2. Fitness Beats Truth (FBT) Theorem

2.4 Time and Space

Book cover: Perceptual Knowledge by Georges Dicker

In the previous section, I highlighted a fundamental internal incoherence in Hoffman's advancement of his Fitness Beats Truth (FBT) theorem. In this section, I continue this theme by focusing, in particular, on problems with his notion that even our perceptions of space and time are non-veridical. Here, Hoffman tells us [Reply 4] that 'It is this algorithmic core that is used by the FBT Theorem to conclude that our perceptions of space-time and physical objects do not reflect objective reality' [Hoffman 2018: 10].

Let me start with Hoffman's conception of time. The first thing to note is that Hoffman's 'algorithmic core' is based on Dawkin's 'universal Darwinism' [2018: 10]. And this 'universal Darwinism' conceptually has as its object 'any group of entities that undergo transformations in terms of a change in probabilities between generations or iterations' [Campbell 2016].

Now, 'transformations', 'change', 'generations' and 'iterations' necessarily occur in time. In addition, central to the concept of 'evolution' is change over time. So, on both these counts, the very axioms of algorithmic Universal Darwinism used by Hoffman are grounded in the actuality of time and duration.

If the Universal Darwinism algorithms used by Hoffman, in combination with other assumptions, entail that one of the central axioms of Universal Darwinism is false, then either his acceptance of Universal Darwinism is misplaced or his conclusion that there is no time is false. Hoffman can't have it both ways. Undeterred by this logic, in the formal axiomatic presentation of his Conscious Realism theory, he readily and unblinkingly relies on the concept of time throughout his entire treatise. For example, he writes, 'The idea is that at each step of the dynamics each of the four kernels acts simultaneously and independently of the others to transition the state ... to the next state' [Hoffman and Prakash 2014: 10].

In writing on the evolution of the human eye, he similarly relies on the concept of time:

A backward retina, for instance, with photoreceptors hidden behind neurons and blood vessels, is not the "best" solution simpliciter to the problem of transducing light but, at a specific time in the phylogenetic path of H. sapiens, it might have been the best solution given the biological structures then available.

[Hoffman 2009: 2]

For Hoffman, the situation is no better with his rejection of the veridicality of our perception of space. Even if we grant that we know nothing of mind-independent objects, our category of space seems real. For example, within our visual field, that content of our visual experience we call our 'left hand' is to the left of our 'right hand'. What we call the 'Sun' in our visual field rises above what we call the 'horizon'. Even for Hoffman, when he draws upon his metaphor of physical objects as 'icons' on our computer 'desktop', he writes how 'a file icon is dragged to the trash' [Hoffman 2009: 13]. These are all spatial relationships integral to the way our perceptual experiences manifest to us.

Copyright © 2020, 2022

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