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?
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
In the last post, I mentioned that I was reading Joseph LeDoux's new book, The Deep History of Ourselves: The Four-Billion-Year Story of How We Got Conscious Brains. There's a lot of interesting stuff in this book. As its title implies, it starts early in evolution, providing a lot of information on early life, although … Continue reading Joseph LeDoux’s theories on consciousness and emotions
Stephen T. Asma and Rami Gabriel have an interesting article at Aeon on emotions. Their main thesis is that many emotions are biological, universal, and rooted in evolution. And that they arise through "the strata of consciousness": the physiological, the experential, and the conceptual. They start off casting aspersions on computationalism, evolutionary psychology, and artificial … Continue reading The reflex and the feeling
John Basl and Eric Schwitzgebel have a short article at Aeon arguing that AI (artificial intelligence) should enjoy the same protection as animals do for scientific research. They make the point that while AI is a long way off from achieving human level intelligence, it may achieve animal level intelligence, such as the intelligence of … Continue reading Protecting AI welfare?
The last post on feelings generated some excellent conversations. In a couple of them, it was pointed out that my description of feelings put a lot of work on the concept of imagination, and that maybe I should expand on that topic a bit. In their excellent book on animal consciousness, The Ancient Origins of … Continue reading On imagination, feelings, and brain regions
I've had a number of conversations lately on the subject of feelings, the affective states of having valences about conscious perception, such as fear, pain, joy, hunger, etc. Apparently a lot of people view feelings as a very mysterious phenomenon. While I'll definitely agree that there are a lot of details still to be worked … Continue reading The construction of feelings