The sensitive soul and the rational soul

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

For animal consciousness, is there a fact of the matter?

Peter Carruthers has been blogging this week on the thesis of his new book, Human and Animal Minds: The Consciousness Question Laid to Rest.  I mentioned Carruthers' book in my post on global workspace theory (GWT), but didn't get into the details.  While I had been considering taking a fresh look at GWT, his book … Continue reading For animal consciousness, is there a fact of the matter?

A correction: LeDoux’s actual views on instrumental learning in vertebrates

I have to make a correction.  In my post on LeDoux's views on consciousness and emotions, I made the following statement: Anyway, LeDoux states that there is “no convincing” evidence for instrumental behavior in pre-mammalian vertebrates, or in invertebrates.  In his view, instrumental behavior only exists in mammals and birds. As it turns out, this … Continue reading A correction: LeDoux’s actual views on instrumental learning in vertebrates

Layers of consciousness, September 2019 edition

A couple of years ago, when writing about panpsychism, I introduced a five layer conception of consciousness.  The idea back then was to show a couple of things. One was that very simple conceptions of consciousness, such as interactions with the environment, were missing a lot of capabilities that we intuitively think of as belonging … Continue reading Layers of consciousness, September 2019 edition

Joseph LeDoux’s theories on consciousness and emotions

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

Machine learning and the need for innate foundations

This interesting Nature article by Anthony M. Zador came up in my Twitter feed: A critique of pure learning and what artificial neural networks can learn from animal brains: Artificial neural networks (ANNs) have undergone a revolution, catalyzed by better supervised learning algorithms. However, in stark contrast to young animals (including humans), training such networks … Continue reading Machine learning and the need for innate foundations

The reflex and the feeling

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

Detecting consciousness in animals and machines, inside-out

An interesting paper came up in my feeds this weekend: Indicators and Criteria of Consciousness in Animals and Intelligent Machines: An Inside-Out Approach.  The authors put forth a definition of consciousness, and then criteria to test for it, although they emphasize that these can't be "hard" criteria, just indicators.  None of them individually definitely establish … Continue reading Detecting consciousness in animals and machines, inside-out

Time to dump the concept of cognition?

An interesting paper came up in my Twitter feed.  Neuroscientist Paul Cisek notes that many of our current models on how the mind works come from dualistic traditions, as well as psychological ones that were heavily influenced by dualism.  He sees the concept of cognition having largely been created after dualism was abandoned.  It made … Continue reading Time to dump the concept of cognition?