We actually don’t know what consciousness is, so it feels odd to speak of “engineering” it.
Egnor: How tight a link might we expect between reproductive success and the contemplation of truth? Not a lot, it would seem, if the experience of philosophy majors on the dating scene is any measure.
Michael Egnor: If consciousness is merely a property of the brain, it has no agency—no power to cause anything—in itself. Properties can’t do anything. For example, if you hit a nail with a yellow hammer, you hit it with the hammer, not with the yellow.
In Scientific American: We are told that many physicists have “gotten interested in consciousness. Hard to see how the Hard problem of Consciousness will help.
He says all such theories either deny the very thing they are trying to explain, result in absurd scenarios, or end up requiring an immaterial intervention.
He worries that their concern is “clouding their objectivity.” But isn’t objectivity the next two-minute hate?
You didn’t think plants were conscious, did you? Did you really think salad is murder? Yet telling us that plants are not conscious is the gist of a recently published major paper in Trends in Plant Science. (open access) Part of the background to the “plants think like people” movement in science, which they oppose, […]
The thing is, scientists do philosophy whether they admit it and try to be coherent or don’t admit it, with distressing results.
Because science writers need simple sound bites and catch phrases: Dennett’s integration of popular evolution theory into his work appeals to many science writers, as this snippet from a BBC news item shows: From an evolutionary perspective, our ability to think is no different from our ability to digest, says Dennett. Both these biological activities can […]
Maybe it can’t. But materialist philosophers face starkly limited choices in how to view consciousness. Galen Strawson argues for materiality.
Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor offers this definition by way of explaining that there is one sense in which consciousness IS an illusion: We are not aware of our consciousness; only of its objects. I believe that the most satisfactory definition of consciousness is the intentional power of the mind — the ability of thought to be “about” […]
It’s the basic problem of the coffee mug. If naturalism (nature is all there is), often called “materialism,” is true, either you and the mug are both conscious or neither of you is. The comments at BackRe(Action) illustrate the difficulty many have grasping that that is a serious problem.
If we equate information flow in rocks with information flow in minds, we are probably looking at a naturalist (materialist) view of consciousness: Nature is all there is and everything is conscious. There is a certain simplicity to it; there is no hard problem of consciousness; it’s an illusion.
In a move reminiscent of Tom Wolfe tackling The Kingdom of Speech near the end of his life, Tom Stoppard (b. 1937) decided to tackle consciousness: Consciousness is a hard problem for science, principally because no one quite understands what makes us the subjects of our experiences. According to one critic, the problem that has […]
Because silicon can’t, says chemist: WHEN Lee Cronin was 9 he was given a Sinclair ZX81 computer and a chemistry set. Unlike most children, Cronin imagined how great it would be if the two things could be combined to make a programmable chemical computer. Now 45 and the Regius Chair of Chemistry at the University of […]