The substitution argument

Diagram of Phenomenal and Functional consciousness

A preprint came up a few times in my feeds, titled: Falsification and consciousness.  The paper argues that all the major scientific theories of consciousness are either already falsified or unfalsifiable.  One neuroscientist, Ryota Kanai, calls it a mathematical proof of the hard problem.  Based on that description, it was hard to resist looking at … Continue reading The substitution argument

Invasion of the farmers

Wheat field

Related to some of our recent discussions, Scientific American has an interesting article on the spread of farming during the neolithic.  From the article: Roughly 9,000 years ago farmers from the Middle East headed toward Europe, seeking new land to cultivate. The farmers traveled either along the Mediterranean coast or the Danube River, encountering hunter-gatherers who lived … Continue reading Invasion of the farmers

The maturity of fiction awareness

Mesopotamian religious imagery

In an ongoing series, I'm covering topics that catch my interest as I read Yuval Noah Harari's Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.  One topic that Harari returns to often is the idea of imagined worlds.  Homo sapiens acquired the ability to create imagined worlds in what he called "the cognitive revolution".  Most anthropologists see … Continue reading The maturity of fiction awareness

Was the agricultural revolution a mistake?

Associations of wild cereals and other wild grasses in northern Israel

I'm continuing to work my way through Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, and have just finished his section on the agricultural revolution.  This is the transition from a hunter-gatherer foraging lifestyle, which humanity had followed for hundreds of thousands of years, to a settled farming one about 12,000 years ago. Harari describes … Continue reading Was the agricultural revolution a mistake?

Hard criteria for theories of consciousness?

(Warning: consciousness theory weeds.) A new paper in the journal Cognitive Neuroscience: Hard criteria for empirical theories of consciousness, takes a shot at proposing criteria for assessing scientific theories of consciousness.  The authors make clear at the beginning that they're aiming their criteria at empirical theories, rather than metaphysical ones.  So they make no attempt … Continue reading Hard criteria for theories of consciousness?

The ecological disaster of Homo sapiens

I'm finally heeding all the recommendations and reading Yuval Noah Harari's Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.  Harari is an excellent writer, and though at times he seems to present some unproven hypotheses as proven fact, and nine years after initial publication some of the information feels a bit dated, he makes up for it … Continue reading The ecological disaster of Homo sapiens