Conversations on Consciousness

11 Sep

Conversations on Consciousness

Conversations on Consciousness

The study of consciousness is a kind of singularity in science, because you’re studying precisely the most cherished quality of what it is to be alive. — Francisco Varela

As I was reading your book I had the thought repeatedly that some of the most powerful memes are not memes that everybody thinks and talks about, but the ones we specifically avoid.. I think society has a lot of unwanted thoughts that are transferred from one person to another by this desire for avoidance. — Daniel Wegner

In her recent book, Conversations on Consciousness, Susan Blackmore tackles the ‘hard problem’ of consciousness in a different manner, using dialogues with the world’s most famous scientists and philosophers who do research in the field of consciousness. The book is not an academic one with very well structured arguments, graphs of experiment results, lots of statistical evidence or many footnotes, and references but it provides a very clear panorama, or rather state-of-the-art of consciousness studies.

Is consciousness a fundamental property of universe similar to electromagnetism? Do our brain cells cause consciousness in a similar way that a moving magnet causes electric current? Is there a ‘consciousness field’? Do people have free will? What it means to see something ‘red’? What is the difference between the imagination / feeling of ‘redness’ and the neural correlates of seeing something red? Is this all about quantum computations taking place at the microscale in our microtubules or even smaller at some nanoscale?

From Sir Francis Crick to Sir Roger Penrose, from Ramachandran to Dan Wegner, from Churchlands to Searle, from Chalmers to Varela this book is a very good read for anybody who has done even a superficial thinking on consciousness, what it really means to be humanly conscious, on the consciousness levels of animals and the excruciating problem of free will. It will clarify your thoughts, help you understand famous arguments (created, described and debated in a heated manner, and frankly, if I may say so), ask the questions you haven’t asked before and maybe set your journey in consciousness with new questions. Blackmore also written a very short glossary and provided references to key articles so that the avid reader can further his or her research in this area.

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Posted by on September 11, 2009 in CogSci, psychology


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