In “What Is the Fundamental Nature of Consciousness?” (Scientific American August 3, 2012), neuroscientist Giulio Tononi offers an excerpt from his new book, PHI: A Voyage from the Brain to the Soul :
This chapter from PHI: A Voyage from the Brain to the Soul, by Giulio Tononi (Pantheon, 2012) describes Tononi’s theory of consciousness as a measure of information. The brain, Tononi postulates, consists of billions of neurons: think of them as if they were transistorlike bits that, when tallied, sum to equal more than their parts. That increment above and beyond—Tononi calls it phi—represents the degree to which any being, whether human or mule, remains conscious.
Surely this can’t work, because information is what we are conscious of, rather than consciousness itself. Thoughts?
Question: Can a materialist system understand consciousness at all?