I often say that consciousness lies in the eye of the beholder, a notion that many dislike and often push back against. To be clear, I do think that for any precise definition of "consciousness", there is a fact of the matter about whether it exists and what has it. Many respond by offering up … Continue reading Hierarchy of consciousness, January 2021 edition
This video does a pretty good job at outlining the idea and stark challenges with mind uploading. (Watching it isn't necessary to understand this post, unless you're completely unfamiliar with the idea. It's 14 minutes long, although the last few minutes are an advertisement.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4b33NTAuF5E Kurzgesagt: Can You Upload Your Mind & Live Forever I'm … Continue reading Mind uploading and the philosophy of self
In the last post, in response to my criticism of Chalmers for relying on the standard but vague "something it is like" definition of phenomenal consciousness, someone pointed out that Chalmers has talked before metaphorically about a movie playing in our head, notably at the beginning of his TED talk on consciousness. I think this … Continue reading The problem with the theater of the mind metaphor
For some reason, Mary's room has been garnering attention lately. This TED Ed video on it was shared on Aeon's site this week. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGYmiQkah4o The wording of the actual thought experiment is important, so quoting Frank Jackson's words (via the Wikipedia article on the knowledge argument): Mary is a brilliant scientist who is, for whatever reason, … Continue reading The problem with Mary’s room
When I was very young, the top of my feet started itching, so I started scratching. The itching continued for weeks and months, with me constantly scratching. My poor mother, seeing my red and scratched feet, implored me to stop. But the itching was relentless and I was maybe five or six, so I kept … Continue reading The complex composition of pain
Infant consciousness seems like a difficult question. It's one people often react to with outrage that it's even being asked. Of course they're conscious, is the sentiment. Aren't they human, and don't we see them crying, showing facial expressions, and exhibiting other behaviors? Others conclude that there's no real way to know since they can't … Continue reading Are babies conscious?
From an evolutionary standpoint, why does pain exist? The first naive answer most people reach for is that pain exists to make us take action to prevent damage. If we touch a hot stove, pain makes us pull our hand back. But that's not right. When we touch a hot surface, nociceptors in our hand … Continue reading Pain is information, but what is information?
Recently, there was a debate on Twitter between neuroscientists Hakwan Lau and Victor Lamme, both of whose work I've highlighted here before. Lau is a proponent of higher order theories of consciousness, and Lamme of local recurrent processing theory. The debate began when Lau made a statement about panpsychism, the idea that everything is conscious … Continue reading The issues with biopsychism
This is the final post in a series I've been doing on Simona Ginsburg and Eva Jablonka’s book: The Evolution of the Sensitive Soul, a book focused on the evolution of minimal consciousness. This is a large book, and it covers a wide range of ideas. A series of relatively small blog posts can't do them … Continue reading Final thoughts on The Evolution of the Sensitive Soul
This is part of a series on Simona Ginsburg and Eva Jablonka’s book: The Evolution of the Sensitive Soul, a book focused on the evolution of minimal consciousness. This particular post is on the capabilities Ginsburg and Jablonka (G&J) see as necessary to attribute consciousness to a particular species. The capability they focus on is … Continue reading Unlimited associative learning