I've discussed many times that the word "consciousness" has a variety of meanings. But most commonly, the various meanings can be grouped into two broad categories. One refers to some combination of functionality, typically the information processing that happens in the brain enabling an organism to take in, assess, and use information about itself and … Continue reading Consciousness, illusions, and definitions
I noted in the post on Susan Blackmore's views that often consciousness get associated with the results of one of three processes: perception, attention, or introspection. Interestingly, while everyone and their brother has a book out on consciousness, attention receives far less... attention. At least in the popular press. The science of attention has a … Continue reading Attention and consciousness
Susan Blackmore's Consciousness: A Very Short Introduction may have been the first book I read on consciousness many years ago. Recent conversations rekindled my interest in her views. I'm pretty sure her discussion of consciousness as an illusion was the first time I had encountered that idea. Strong illusionists such as Keith Frankish and Daniel … Continue reading Susan Blackmore’s illusionism
When it comes to my philosophy of consciousness, I've noted many times that I'm a functionalist, someone who sees mental states, including conscious ones, as being more about what they do, their causal roles and relations, than what they are. Since functionalism focuses on functionality exclusively, it often gets lumped in with illusionism, which typically … Continue reading What does it mean to be “like something”?
Someone called my attention to a new paper by Michael Graziano: A conceptual framework for consciousness. I've highlighted Graziano's approach and theory many times over the years. I think his Attention Schema Theory provides important insights into how top down attention works. But it's his overall approach that I find the most value in. He's … Continue reading Graziano’s non-mystical approach to consciousness
When writing about the mind and consciousness, and how it exists in material systems, many of us resort to functional hierarchies. (Mine typically start with physical interaction and work all the way up to self reflection.) Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam have a similar idea, and have written a whole book on it: Journey of … Continue reading From molecule minds to superminds
One of the things about consciousness I've tried to call attention to on this blog is the ambiguity of its most common definitions, such as Thomas Nagel's definition of it being "like something" for a particular system. The problem is that when people try to get more specific, they come up with a wide variety … Continue reading Consciousness semanticism
Often when I mention that I'm a functionalist in terms of the mind, someone references the Stanford Encyclopedia entry on functionalism. Strange to say, but I've never gone through that entire entry. This week I poked around a little in it, mostly in the objections section. Most of the objections either strike me as more … Continue reading The function of qualia
David Chalmers in his book: Reality+: Virtual Worlds and the Problems of Philosophy, eventually gets around to addressing the 800-pound gorilla in the room for any discussion of the simulation hypothesis. Can consciousness itself be simulated, and if so, would the resulting entity be conscious? This issue, I think, is what makes many react with far sharper … Continue reading Can consciousness be simulated?
I recently completed Anil Seth's new book, Being You: A New Science of Consciousness. Seth starts out discussing David Chalmers' hard problem of consciousness, as well as views like physicalism, idealism, panpsychism, and functionalism. Seth is a physicalist, but is suspicious of functionalism. Seth makes a distinction between the hard problem, which he characterizes as … Continue reading Anil Seth’s theory of consciousness