Tag Archives: consciousness

Metaphor Generators: Douglas Hofstadter and Shakespeare

I’ve been reading Douglas Hofstadter’s new book, Surfaces and Essences, in which he posits an analogy model for what human intelligence ultimately is, and I notice that the new November edition of The Atlantic has a profile piece on Hofstadter, a … Continue reading

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David Chalmers on Consciousness

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Free Will and the Origin of Consciousness

Am I missing something here? If contra-causal free will does not exist–and most non-dualist philosophers and scientists insist that it doesn’t, then how did consciousness ever evolve? It’s logically possible that we could all be zombies–though we’re not–without the least … Continue reading

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A Mind-Blowing Thought Concerning the Evolution of Animal Awareness

According to Discover magazine, the physicist Andrei Linde is reported to entertain a mind dependent cosmos: [C]onsciousness may be a fundamental component of the universe, much like space and time. He [Linde] wonders whether the physical universe, its laws, and conscious … Continue reading

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What Is This Life?

According to a recent science article at the Huffington Post, Sara Walker, an astrobiologist at Arizona State University, along with some of her colleagues, has arrived at a fresh definition of life as seen through the prism of information processing: Walker’s team … Continue reading

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Cyborg Lobster Watch: A Remote-Controlled Plane as a Tool for Vision

Some questions: Is an extension of man, man? Where does the self end and our tools begin? And when we look-in on the “flights” of another person’s consciousness, extended and carried via a remote-controlled plane, does that become us as well? Or … Continue reading

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Neuroscience for Buddhists: Externalism Nicely Explained

At the New York Review of Books, Tim Parks recounts his experience of having a beer with Riccardo Manzotti, a man who believes that consciousness does not reside in the brain. Monzotti is an externalist who thinks the subject-object split … Continue reading

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Quantum Dieting: Change Your Measurements, Change Your Life

An article in Seed surveys some recent research on quantum physics’s implications for common sense reality. Here’s the problem: [N]one of us perceives the world as it exists fundamentally. We do not observe the tiniest bits of matter, nor the forces … Continue reading

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I Connectome, Therefore I Am?

Sebastian Seung is Professor of Computational Neuroscience and Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and in his new book, Connectome: How the Brain’s Wiring Makes Us Who We Are (Houghton Mifflin 2012), he defines a connectome in the following manner: … Continue reading

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Will Computers Ever Really Be Conscious and Intelligent?

Philosopher John Searle thinks not. _____ And literary critic Stanley Fish, writing in the New York Times, appears to agree with Searle, offering the following as a key distinction between himself and a computer: [I]ts procedures do not track my practice. I … Continue reading

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Walking in the Paws of Others: Was It Love, Duty, or Sympathy That Motivated This Dog?

Or am I anthropomorphizing? — If the dog’s behavior was not triggered by a conscious impulse to love, duty, or sympathy, why did the dog cross the road? I wonder if the dogs were even related. Can a dog have … Continue reading

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The Problem of Pure Consciousness

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              . Sunlight rivers through the shimmering  Sycamore tree, pools on the ground, Makes of shadow a living shoreline.  I vibrate there. The juggler’s balls are Frightfully high in the rarified air. Eight Sheriff’s deputies in four cars came, but They did … Continue reading

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Did Homer suffer from Hamlet-like self-consciousness? Garry Wills thinks so.

In the New York Review of Books, Garry Wills takes a hard whack at a notion Harold Bloom has long promoted and that seems to show up across a lot of disciplines (and most recently, in a book co-authored by a Harvard philosopher): literate … Continue reading

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Stanley Fish on What Distinguishes Us from Computers

At the New York Times this week, Stanley Fish offers the following as a key distinction between himself and a computer: [I]ts procedures do not track my practice. I am not self-consciously generating a pattern of statistical frequencies. I am … Continue reading

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Consciousness Explained: Spatial Awareness, Time Awareness, Self Awareness, Death Awareness, and Free Will

Below is an excellent BBC documentary on the self and free will. I especially like what Gordon Gallup says at the 11:48 mark: Death awareness is the price we pay for self awareness. If you only have time for a … Continue reading

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The self-made soul? Do you make a soul as an author makes a novel, one moment of awareness at a time?

I’m not sure what, exactly, the soul is (“I am that I am?”), but I do think I’m closing in, at least for myself, on what the soul does. Here’s the theory I’m working with. Please help me refine it if you think I’m missing something … Continue reading

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Free Will Objectivism Fail: Two Mathematicians Demonstrate that Ayn Rand’s Philosophy is Incoherent

At ScienceNews.org is a troubling piece reporting that two highly acclaimed Princeton mathematicians, John Conway and Simon Kochen, have mathematically demonstrated the following: if humans can actually choose what to observe (or not observe) in a particular sort of physics experiment involving particle spin, then the … Continue reading

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Spectres of Reality or the Reality of Spectres?

Shane McCorristine’s new book on ghosts titled Spectres of the Self: Thinking about Ghosts and Ghost-Seeing in England, 1750-1920  (Cambridge 2010) receives a good review from Jonathan Barnes in The Times of London: What interests McCorristine about these alleged outbreaks of the paranormal is … Continue reading

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Qualia Defined

Dr. V.S. Ramachandran, Director of the Center for Brain and Cognition at the University of California at San Diego (UCSD), admirably explains what philosophers and neuroscientists mean when they talk about qualia:

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Joel Marks’s Desirism vs. John Hart’s Commanderism

Atheist philosopher, and former Kantian, Joel Marks has given up on grounding morality absent God. So what now? Here’s Joel Marks’s default idea: base your choices—perhaps compassion today, perhaps hedonism tomorrow—on desire. He calls his position desirism. At the Catholic First Things … Continue reading

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