Chalmers and Qualia

In preparation for following up all the neuroscience pointers to the existence of pre-cognitive “qualia” being processed in the brain (at least I think that’s what’s being pointed at – I may be misunderstanding something) I was updating my link to David Chalmers’ Univeristy of Arizona site, and the expected upcoming consciousness conference, when I noticed he’s moved …. back to Australia. Since August 2004 apparently.

On-line consciousness papers collected by Chalmers.

The hard problem of consciousness is described by David as follows

[QUOTE]If any problem qualifies as the problem of consciousness, it is this one. In this central sense of “consciousness”, an organism is conscious if there is something it is like to be that organism, and a mental state is conscious if there is something it is like to be in that state. Sometimes terms such as “phenomenal consciousness” and “qualia” are also used here, but I find it more natural to speak of “conscious experience” or simply “experience”. Another useful way to avoid confusion (used by e.g. Newell 1990, Chalmers 1996) is to reserve the term “consciousness” for the phenomena of experience, using the less loaded term “awareness” for the more straightforward phenomena [described earlier]. If such a convention were widely adopted, communication would be much easier; as things stand, those who talk about “consciousness” are frequently talking past each other. The ambiguity of the term “consciousness” is often exploited by both philosophers and scientists writing on the subject.[UNQUOTE]

Found this problem with Zeman, less so with Austin and Edelman.

In explaining “Consciousness, the Hard Problem” David summarises these approaches.

  • deflationary approaches (e.g. Dan Dennett, Pat Churchland),
  • nonreductive analyses (e.g. Colin McGinn, David Hodgson),
  • neuroscience or cognitive science approaches (e.g. Francis Crick & Christof Koch, Bernard Baars),
  • physics-based perspectives (e.g. Stuart Hameroff & Roger Penrose, Henry Stapp),
  • new fundamental ontologies (e.g. Benjamin Libet, Piet Hut & Roger Shepard),
  • phenomenological approaches (e.g. Francisco Varela, Max Velmans).

Closer To Truth entry here.
All In The Mind entry here.

I wonder what will happen to the Arizona Consciousness and Quantum Mind conferences? The next Science of Consciousness conference is in Copenhagen, August 2005.

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