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Define what consciousness is. Can we ever explain consciousness? Is consciousness linguistically eliminated? These areas are emphasized.

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"Consciousness is a special and intractable problem, as which ever way you look the dualism trap seems to be waiting!"

1). If you think the mind is different from matter then how do they interact?

2). If the brain and mind are the same physically, how do you explain subjectivity?

3). If there is subjective experience and a physical brain then how do you bridge the 'explanatory gap'?

"How do physical processes in the brain give rise to subjective experience?"

O'Hara & Scutt (1996) - suggest that there is no hard problem, if the 'easy' problem is solved then consciousness will be explained by neuroscience.

Penrose (1994) - suggests that the hard problem is too difficult for us to solve and to do so would involve a revolution of physics.

McGinn (1999) - suggests that this is beyond our human brains to solve; he adopts the 'mysterian' view.

Crick (1994) - Binding problem - this is concerned with how separately processed features of objects are bound.

"Is there something radically wrong with the way we are currently thinking about consciousness?" Blackmore (1991).

Charmers (1996) - do we have consciousness because physical things happen? Everything we do is physical thus we can't explain what is not physical.

'Zombie' question - the zombie cannot exist, as we can't imagine what it is like to be, there is nothing inside of it and if we imagined it then there would be!

The 'hard problem' is an extension of the mind/body relationship - can we ever explain this??


Descartes (1596 - 1650) - suggested there is a split between the mind and the body. How do they interact?

Evidence against:

- Physical aspects are found in the brain
- Experimental evidence have a neurological significant in the brain before we move, thus there cant be free will
- 'Hume' - bundles of perception suggest that a sequence is happening (what about memory?)
- There is no internal observer like Descartes suggested - Dennett, multiple drafts.


"Consciousness is a fascinating but elusive phenomenon; it is impossible to specify what it is, what it does, or why it evolved" - Sutherland (1989).

Why did consciousness evolve? If it has a function then natural selection could work on it. What theories have been given for the function of consciousness?

1. Humphrey - early hominoid ancestors were social creatures who needed to predict other's behaviours. The best way to do this was to observe own 'inner' processes. "The inner eye".

2. Consciousness is related to the development of 'machiavellian intelligence' (in particular the ability to deceive others), and the development of "theory of mind".

3. ...

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William James: Consciousness

William James conceived consciousness as a continuous stream of thought that may or may not be based on sensations. Consider a scenario in which you come home from work and are too tired to do anything. You sit down on the couch and turn the TV on, but for a while you are simply staring at the TV screen without paying attention to what is being played on TV; you realize that you are hungry and should try to find something to eat. According to James' conception, were you conscious during that period when you were blankly staring at the TV screen?

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