A Universe of Consciousness: How Matter Becomes Imagination

A Universe of Consciousness: How Matter Becomes Imagination

A Universe of Consciousness: How Matter Becomes Imagination

A Universe of Consciousness: How Matter Becomes Imagination

Synopsis

Edelman received the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1972, and is affiliated with the Neurosciences Institute and the Neurosciences Research Foundation. Tononi, also with the Neurosciences Institute, specializes in theoretical and experimental neurobiology. Here they aim "To describe the neural mechanisms that give rise to consciousness, to show how the general properties of consciousness emerge as a result of the properties of the brain as a complex system, to analyze the origins of subjective states or qualia, and to show how the successful pursuit of all these efforts may change our views of the scientific observer and of long-held philosophical positions...". (from the preface).

Excerpt

The subject of consciousness has not lacked for human attention. In the past, it was the exclusive domain of philosophers, but recently both psychologists and neuroscientists have begun to attack the so-called mind-body problem or, in Schopenhauer's suggestive phrase, the world knot. In this chapter we briefly review classical and modern approaches to consciousness. We point out various positions taken by philosophers, psychologists, and neuroscientists, rejecting some of the more flagrant ones, such as dualism or extreme reductionism. We suggest that consciousness can be considered a scientific subject and that it is not the sole province of philosophers.

Everyone knows what consciousness is: It is what abandons you every evening when you fall asleep and reappears the next morning when you wake up. This deceptive simplicity reminds us of what William James said of attention at the turn of the century: Everyone knows what attention is. It is the taking possession by the mind, in clear and vivid form, of one out of what seem several simultaneously possible objects or trains of thought. More than one hundred years later, many think that neither attention nor consciousness is understood in any fundamental sense.

This lack of understanding is certainly not because of lack of attention in philosophical or scientific circles. Ever since René Descartes, few subjects . . .

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