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Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness

Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness
David J. Chalmers Department of Philosophy University of Arizona Tucson, AZ 85721 [Published in the Journal of Consciousness Studies 2(3):200-19, 1995. 1 Introduction Consciousness poses the most baffling problems in the science of the mind. To make progress on the problem of consciousness, we have to confront it directly. 2 The easy problems and the hard problem There is not just one problem of consciousness. The easy problems of consciousness include those of explaining the following phenomena: the ability to discriminate, categorize, and react to environmental stimuli; the integration of information by a cognitive system; the reportability of mental states; the ability of a system to access its own internal states; the focus of attention; the deliberate control of behavior; the difference between wakefulness and sleep. All of these phenomena are associated with the notion of consciousness. The really hard problem of consciousness is the problem of experience. Related:  ConsciousnessConsciousness

The Mystery Behind Anesthesia Going under: Emery Brown’s quest to understand how anesthesia affects the brain could ­provide crucial clues about what goes wrong in certain ­disorders. A video screen shows a man in his late 60s lying awake on an operating table. Just outside the camera’s view, a doctor is moving his finger in front of the man’s face, instructing him to follow it back and forth with his eyes. As an anesthesiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Brown is constant witness to one of the most profound and mysterious feats of modern medicine. But though doctors have been putting people under for more than 150 years, what happens in the brain during general anesthesia is a mystery. Brown, who is also a neuroscientist and professor at MIT, aims to transform anesthesia from a solely clinical tool into a powerful instrument for studying the most basic questions about the brain. Brown, however, has a different perspective from most anesthesiologists; he’s also a statistician.

metAMORphosis: Conscious Evolution Newsletter Astrology and Free Will by Sujatha Sridhara Many people believe that astrology is a fatalistic art that leaves no room for human free will. In this view, a person’s horoscope reveals their inflexible destiny, which they are bound to accept, for good or ill, with no choice in the matter. However, a deeper understanding of astrology reveals that it reinforces the concept of free will by giving us the tools to make intelligent choices, rather than blindly following the path of least resistance. When we voluntarily choose to control our actions and reactions, we can change the nature of our lives and become the masters of our own destinies. What is astrology? According to popular astrology writer Linda Goodman, “Astrology is the study of man in relation to celestial bodies, or to be precise, the planets. To understand astrology, we must discuss karma, because karma is a major foundation of astrology. Planets and personality Saturn’s significance lies in the fact that it symbolizes karma.

The Holographic Brain Daniel Goleman: History tells us that, with every paradigm shift in science, a new frontier of legitimate investigation opens. And from that new frontier come answers to questions the old paradigm did not allow to be asked. It seems to me you're posing questions that have not been allowed before a precarious position. Karl Pribram: Let me tell you how I got into the holographic story. Back in the 1950s, people dealing with the brain and those dealing with mental processes weren't together. For one thing, brain science was plagued by some classic, unsolved mysteries. Experiments had been done showing that just 2 percent of the fibers in a particular system would retain that system's functions. Thus, for over half a century, physiologists have searched for an “engram”—a change in brain cells that marks a memory trace. Goleman: What are the other classic puzzles of brain science? Goleman: Where have puzzles like that led you? Pribram: Ideas started to come together in the mid 60s.

Neural correlates of consciousness Figure 1: The Neuronal Correlates of Consciousness (NCC) are the minimal set of neural events and structures – here synchronized action potentials in neocortical pyramidal neurons – sufficient for a specific conscious percept or a conscious (explicit) memory. From Koch (2004). The Neural Correlates of Consciousness (NCC) can be defined as the minimal neuronal mechanisms jointly sufficient for any one specific conscious percept (Crick & Koch 1990). The Neurobiological Approach to Consciousness Consciousness is a puzzling, state-dependent property of certain types of complex, biological, adaptive, and highly interconnected systems. A science of consciousness must strive to explain the exact relationship between phenomenal, mental states and brain states. The Neural Correlates of Consciousness Progress in addressing the mind-body problem has come from focusing on empirically accessible questions rather than on eristic philosophical arguments. Level of Arousal and Content of Consciousness

Evolution - Conscious Evolution Conscious Evolution Evolution is happening right now in and around us. It is influenced by all that we do and don't do, and all that we are and are not. Whether we are aware of it or not, we have a lot to do with how evolution unfolds, especially right here on Earth. Recent offspring in life's 13.7 billion years of cosmic, planetary, biological and social evolution, we are on the leading edge of the evolutionary process. Evolution has given us a special kind of consciousness, one that creates -- and is thoroughly conditioned by -- our languages, cultures, stories, and built environments. Part of that maturing process is learning the dynamics through which evolution does its transformational work. To the extent we do this, we are evolution -- or at least one significant facet of it -- becoming conscious of itself. All the crises of our age are manifestations of our challenge to consciously evolve. Something is Emerging - brief notes on conscious evolution What is Consciousness? See also

Institute of Noetic Sciences | Consciousness | Science | Spirituality | Wisdom Research on Near Death Experiences I just returned from an exciting conference held at the biotech company, Promega. The meeting was entitled Final Passages: Research on Near Death & the Experience of Dying. This eleventh in a series of bioethics forums was held in Madison, WI, April 26–27, 2012, and focused on scientific research into social and ethical issues around dying and near-death experiences. A stellar lineup of global experts addressed a wide range of topics as well as the implications of current research for understanding consciousness. The conference was introduced and chaired by Bill Linton, the founder and CEO of Promega. The first lecture was by Pim van Lommel, MD, a cardiologist from Holland. NPR reporter Steve Paulson then conducted an interview with neurosurgeon Eben Alexander, who described in detail his own near-death experience. The next speaker was Raymond Moody, MD, PhD, who described what he calls “shared death experiences.”

Consciousness Representation of consciousness from the seventeenth century At one time consciousness was viewed with skepticism by many scientists, but in recent years it has become a significant topic of research in psychology, neuropsychology and neuroscience. The primary focus is on understanding what it means biologically and psychologically for information to be present in consciousness—that is, on determining the neural and psychological correlates of consciousness. The majority of experimental studies assess consciousness by asking human subjects for a verbal report of their experiences (e.g., "tell me if you notice anything when I do this"). Issues of interest include phenomena such as subliminal perception, blindsight, denial of impairment, and altered states of consciousness produced by drugs and alcohol, or spiritual or meditative techniques. Etymology and early history[edit] John Locke, British philosopher active in the 17th century In the dictionary[edit] Philosophy of mind[edit]