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From Inside Higher Ed: Consciousness studies – “Is This the World’s Most Bizarre Scholarly Meeting?”


From Tom Bartlett at Inside Higher Ed:

What would Noam Chomsky, Deepak Chopra, a very friendly robot, plus a bevy of scientists, mystics, and wannabe scholars do at a fancy resort in Arizona? Perhaps real harm to the field of consciousness studies, for one thing.

Start with Noam Chomsky, Deepak Chopra, and a robot that loves you no matter what. Add a knighted British physicist, a renowned French neuroscientist, and a prominent Australian philosopher/occasional blues singer. Toss in a bunch of psychologists, mathematicians, anesthesiologists, artists, meditators, a computer programmer or two, and several busloads of amateur theorists waving self-published manuscripts and touting grand unified solutions. Send them all to a swanky resort in the desert for a week, supply them with lots of free coffee and beer, and ask them to unpack a riddle so confounding that it’s unclear how to make progress or where you’d even begin.

Then just, like, see what happens. More.

Read it where it is okay to be seen laughing. Read the whole thing where it is okay to be seen laughing. ut please note: Yes, this show is doubtless ridiculous. But it will go on – and on – punctuated by a putdown like Bartlett’s every few years. The basic idea behind interpreting consciousness as if it were a material thing is itself ridiculous. Even the allegedly more scientific conference elsewhere (Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness), which Bartlett mentions, is probably equally futile. But It’s not obviously ridiculous. And that counts for a lot in naturalist science these days.

See also: The illusion of consciousness sees through itself.


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