What does it mean to be “like something”?

Common Vampire Bat

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”?

Graziano’s non-mystical approach to consciousness

Someone called my attention to a new paper by Michael Graziano: A conceptual framework for consciousness. I've highlighted Graziano's approach and theory many times over the years. I think his Attention Schema Theory provides important insights into how top down attention works. But it's his overall approach that I find the most value in. He's … Continue reading Graziano’s non-mystical approach to consciousness

How much can we change the causality of the brain and keep consciousness?

James of Seattle clued me in to a thought experiment described by Dr. Anna Schapiro in a Twitter thread. https://twitter.com/AnnaSchapiro/status/1512866137809195011 It's very similar to one discussed in a new preprint paper: Do action potentials cause consciousness? Like all good thought experiments, it exercises and challenges our intuitions. In this case, it forces us to contemplate … Continue reading How much can we change the causality of the brain and keep consciousness?

The benefits of functionalism for animal welfare

Last week, Science News had an article about the difficulty of studying animal emotions, on understanding what an animal in a particular situation is really feeling. It's an interesting article, although not one with much new information for many of you. However, I want to focus on one point raised by one of the researchers … Continue reading The benefits of functionalism for animal welfare

Can consciousness be simulated?

human cyborg

David Chalmers in his book: Reality+: Virtual Worlds and the Problems of Philosophy, eventually gets around to addressing the 800-pound gorilla in the room for any discussion of the simulation hypothesis. Can consciousness itself be simulated, and if so, would the resulting entity be conscious? This issue, I think, is what makes many react with far sharper … Continue reading Can consciousness be simulated?

Anil Seth’s theory of consciousness

I recently completed Anil Seth's new book, Being You: A New Science of Consciousness. Seth starts out discussing David Chalmers' hard problem of consciousness, as well as views like physicalism, idealism, panpsychism, and functionalism. Seth is a physicalist, but is suspicious of functionalism. Seth makes a distinction between the hard problem, which he characterizes as … Continue reading Anil Seth’s theory of consciousness