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
I'm still working my way through Simona Ginsburg and Eva Jablonka's tome: The Evolution of the Sensitive Soul. This is the second post of a series on their book. I'm actually on the last chapter, but that last chapter is close to a hundred pages long, and the book's prose is dense. Light reading it … Continue reading The seven attributes of minimal consciousness
I think examining the evolution of consciousness in animals helps shed light on it in humans. Admittedly, there are difficulties. Animals can't self report using language, which limits just how much of their experience can be garnered from experiments. Still, taking data from human studies and combining it with animal studies can provide a lot … Continue reading The sensitive soul and the rational soul
Several months ago Michael Graziano, and colleagues, attempted a synthesis of three families of scientific theories of consciousness: global workspace theory (GWT), higher order theory (HOT), and his own attention schema theory (AST). A quick (crudely simplistic) reminder: GWT posits that content becomes conscious when it is globally broadcast throughout the brain, HOT when a … Continue reading The response schema