Many misunderstand the illusion that illusionism refers to. This series of recent tweets from Frankish tries to address a common misunderstanding (the rest of my post is a quotation of the tweets):
Do illusionists deny the existence of experiences and imply that empathy with other people’s feelings is misplaced??
Illusionists don’t deny that we undergo states of the kind we call “conscious experiences” (seeing colours, tasting foods, having pains, etc). Nor do they deny that the nature of these states matters to us and should matter to others.
Illusionists merely deny a certain philosophical account of what these states involve. They deny that they involve our being acquainted with an essentially private world of primitive qualitative properties–with mental versions of redness, sweetness, painfulness, etc
Illusionists hold that experiences are complex clusters of brain processes, which track, model, and react to significant features of the world. Conscious experience occurs when the brain also tracks, models and reacts to these processes themselves.
Our sense of being acquainted with a subjective inner world arises from this self-monitoring. However, the brain doesn’t track its own processes in fine detail. It just models their overall shape and valance, which it represents schematically, as a primitive mental quality.
So it’s not experiences (the clusters of perceptual and reactive processes) that are illusory but the qualitative guises under which they are represented and made available to other brain systems, and thus to ‘us’ – the persons constituted by all these brain systems.
If anything, I think, this view should make empathy easier. It retrieves experience from a private realm, where no one but the subject can truly know it,and roots it in perceptual sensitivities and reactive dispositions which others can notice, describe, and empathize with.