I've discussed many times that the word "consciousness" has a variety of meanings. But most commonly, the various meanings can be grouped into two broad categories. One refers to some combination of functionality, typically the information processing that happens in the brain enabling an organism to take in, assess, and use information about itself and … Continue reading Consciousness, illusions, and definitions
Today's Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comic is pretty good, and related to our recent discussions. Click through for the original to see the hovertext and Red Button bonus caption How would you have responded to Zorkrang's initial question? (Assuming you weren't more concerned about being naked and experimented on by an extraterrestrial.)
Susan Blackmore's Consciousness: A Very Short Introduction may have been the first book I read on consciousness many years ago. Recent conversations rekindled my interest in her views. I'm pretty sure her discussion of consciousness as an illusion was the first time I had encountered that idea. Strong illusionists such as Keith Frankish and Daniel … Continue reading Susan Blackmore’s illusionism
When it comes to my philosophy of consciousness, I've noted many times that I'm a functionalist, someone who sees mental states, including conscious ones, as being more about what they do, their causal roles and relations, than what they are. Since functionalism focuses on functionality exclusively, it often gets lumped in with illusionism, which typically … Continue reading What does it mean to be “like something”?
I've only recently discovered Ricardo Lopes and his interviews of all kinds of interesting people. Here is one from a couple of years ago of Keith Frankish, the most prominent contemporary champion of illusionism, the idea that phenomenal consciousness is an illusion, that it doesn't exist, and much of this is him giving the standard … Continue reading The necessity of weak emergence
(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
In the last post, in response to my criticism of Chalmers for relying on the standard but vague "something it is like" definition of phenomenal consciousness, someone pointed out that Chalmers has talked before metaphorically about a movie playing in our head, notably at the beginning of his TED talk on consciousness. I think this … Continue reading The problem with the theater of the mind metaphor
(Warning: neuroscience weeds) Earlier this year I discussed Victor Lamme's theory of consciousness, that phenomenal experience is recurrent neural processing, that is, neural signalling that happens in loops, from lower layers to higher layers and back, or more broadly from region to region and back. In his papers, Lamme notes that recurrent processing is an … Continue reading The unproductive search for simple solutions to consciousness
The hard problem of consciousness, a term coined by philosopher David Chalmers, asks how physical systems can produce phenomenal consciousness. Chalmers' term, coined in the 1990s, applied to an older problem that's been around for along time, the mind-body problem. More recently, Chalmers noted his intuition that the hard problem is widely and intuitively held … Continue reading Regular people: What hard problem of consciousness?
How do we know whether any particular system is conscious? In humans, we typically know because most humans can talk about their conscious experience. Historically, if we can report on it, it's conscious; if we can't, it's in the unconscious. But this raises a difficulty for any entity that doesn't have language, including non-human animals, … Continue reading There is no phenomenality without access