Some words might simply no longer be productive for precise conversations

Moses holding the Ten Commandments

Ronnie de Souza has an interesting article at Aeon on why he thinks the concept of morality isn't helpful. His overall thesis is that the idea that there are things that are right or wrong without qualification, in and of itself, adds nothing useful to the conversation. We can find reasons why or why not … Continue reading Some words might simply no longer be productive for precise conversations

Sources of information on neuroscience

It's been a while since I listed good sources to learn about neuroscience and the brain. I think anyone interested in consciousness and the mind should get a grounding in the basics. It's a bit of work, but the introductory accounts aren't anything unmanageable for someone who can parse philosophically dense material. And it enables … Continue reading Sources of information on neuroscience

Perceptions are dispositions all the way down

(Warning: neuroscience weeds) Some years ago, I reviewed Antonio Damasio's theory of consciousness, based on his book, Self Comes to Mind. (He has a newer book, The Strange Order of Things, which I haven't read yet, so this may not represent his most current views.) In that book, Damasio makes a distinction between two types … Continue reading Perceptions are dispositions all the way down

Consciousness and intelligence

Chimp using a stick

The other day, when discussing Mark Solms' book, I noted that he is working to create an artificial consciousness, but that he emphasizes that he isn't aiming for intelligence, just the conscious part, as though consciousness and intelligence are unrelated. This seems to fit with his affect centered theory of consciousness, and it matches a … Continue reading Consciousness and intelligence

A perceptual hierarchy of consciousness

I've discussed many times how difficult consciousness can be to define. One of the earliest modern definitions, from John Locke, was, "the perception of what passes in a man's own mind." This definition makes consciousness inherently about introspection. But other definitions over the centuries have focused on knowledge in general as well as intentionality, the … Continue reading A perceptual hierarchy of consciousness

Stimulating the prefrontal cortex

(Warning: neuroscience weeds) This is an interesting study getting attention on social media: Does the Prefrontal Cortex Play an Essential Role in Consciousness? Insights from Intracranial Electrical Stimulation of the Human Brain. Ned Block is one of the authors. (Warning: paywalled, but you might have luck here.) The study looks at data from epileptic patients … Continue reading Stimulating the prefrontal cortex

The global playground

(Warning: neuroscience weeds) Stanislas Dehaene recently called attention to a paper in Nature studying the brain dynamics of something becoming conscious. The study supports the global neuronal workspace theory that consciousness involves "bifurcation" dynamics, an "ignition", a phase transition between preconscious and conscious processing. Prior to the transition, the processing is feedforward and fleeting. After … Continue reading The global playground