The Hard Problem of Consciousness (Chalmers, Dennett, & Hoffman)
David Chalmers, Daniel Dennett, and Donald Hoffman discuss the nature of consciousness and the so called “hard problem” at the Center for Consciousness Studies at the University of Arizona.
Chalmers speaks first, outlining the general history of the problem. He then proceeds to spell out the different kinds of philosophical views one can have regarding the nature of consciousness and the difficulties which arise for each particular kind of view.
Next Dennett gives his talk where he tries to show that there is no genuine “hard problem” of consciousness at all in the first place. As a type-A materialist, he argues that the idea we have about there being subjective mental qualia, or some special “inner” private realm, is merely a cognitive illusion. We don’t have anything that a philosophical zombie lacks. In this sense, consciousness just doesn’t exist.
Lastly, Hoffman gives his talk, where he describes his own view. His theory ends up seeming to be something like idealism or panpsychism, where consciousness is fundamental and prior to the physical (it’s consciousness “all the way down”).
There is then a discussion between the three of them with questions from the audience.
Published on May 1, 2015
Christof Koch: The scientific pursuit of consciousness
Does your dog experience conscious thought? What about your neighbour? How can you be sure? This is a difficult challenge for researchers, given the need for objectivity. Neuroscientist Christof Koch explores the relationship between brains, behaviour, and consciousness.
Born in the American Midwest, Christof Koch grew up in Holland, Germany, Canada, and Morocco. He studied Physics and Philosophy at the University of Tübingen in Germany and was awarded his Ph.D. in Biophysics in 1982. Following four years at MIT, Christof joined the California Institute of Technology as a Professor in Biology and Engineering. After a quarter of a century, Christof left academia to become the Chief Scientific Officer at the not-for-profit Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle. He is leading a ten year, large-scale, high through-put effort to build brain observatories to map, analyze, and understand the cerebral cortex. He loves dogs, climbing, biking in Seattle, and long-distance running.
Christof has authored more than 300 scientific papers and articles, eight patents, and five books concerned with the way neurons process information and the neuronal and computational basis of visual perception, selective attention, and consciousness. Together with his long-time collaborator, Francis Crick, Christof pioneered the scientific study of consciousness. His latest book is Consciousness—Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist.
This talk was given November 9, 2013 in Seattle at TEDxRainier, a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. Published on Jan 22, 2014.
Olaf Blanke: Out-of body experiences, consciousness, and cognitive neuroprosthetics
What is a conscious self ? What exactly makes an experience a subjective phenomenon ?
Starting with the neurology of out-of-body experiences and the breakdown of bodily mechanisms of self-consciousness, this talk presents novel neuroscience data on selfconsciousness and subjectivity in healthy subjects using techniques from cognitive neuroscience and engineering-based technologies such as virtual reality and robotics. It translates these research findings to the bedside and show how control over the brain mechanisms of our daily “inside–body experience” can join forces with neuro-engineering and thus impact treatments for patients with amputation and spinal cord injury.
Olaf Blanke is director of the Center for Neuroprosthetics at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), holds the Bertarelli Foundation Chair in Cognitive Neuroprosthetics, and is consultant neurologist at the Department of Neurology (Geneva University Hospital). He received his MD and PhD in neurophysiology from the Free University of Berlin. Blanke’s research targets the brain mechanisms of body perception, corporeal awareness and selfconsciousness, applying paradigms from cognitive science, neuroscience, neuroimaging, robotics, and virtual reality in healthy subjects and neurological patients. His two main goals are to understand and control neural own body representations to develop a neurobiological model of self-consciousness and to apply these findings in the emerging field of cognitive and systems neuroprosthetics. His work has received wide press coverage; he is recipient of numerous awards.
Published on Jun 23, 2012
Ned Block, Two Forms of Higher Order Theories of Consciousness
Ned Block is an American philosopher working in the field of the philosophy of mind who has made important contributions to matters of consciousness and cognitive science. In 1971, he obtained his Ph.D. from Harvard University under Hilary Putnam. He went to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as an assistant professor of philosophy (1971-1977), worked as associate professor of philosophy (1977-1983), professor of philosophy (1983-1996) and served as chair of the philosophy section (1989-1995). He has, since 1996, been a professor in the departments of philosophy and psychology and at the Center for Neural Science at New York University (NYU).
He is noted for presenting the Blockhead argument against the Turing Test as a test of intelligence in a paper titled Psychologism and Behaviorism (1981). He is also known for his criticism of functionalism, arguing that a system with the same functional states as a human is not necessarily conscious. In his more recent work on consciousness, he has made a distinction between phenomenal consciousness and access consciousness, where phenomenal consciousness consists of subjective experience and feelings and access consciousness consists of that information globally available in the cognitive system for the purposes of reasoning, speech and high-level action control. He has argued that access consciousness and phenomenal consciousness might not always coincide in human beings.
He has been a judge at the Loebner Prize contest, a contest in the tradition of the Turing Test to determine whether a conversant is a computer or a human.
Published on Mar 3, 2013
Toward a Science of Consciousness 2013, TSC – CCS-UA, Tucson, Arizona, Plenary 5 HOT or NOT
Get the Full Experience
Read the rest of this article, and view all articles in full from just £10 for 3 months.