Consciousness

Paulson:  Now, if you talk to brain scientists, most will say it's just a matter of time before science unlocks the mysteries of the mind and they usually say neuroscience is the path to do this. I mean this is the discipline that will crack the puzzle of consciousness. What do you think?

Chalmers:  Well, I think it's reasonable to think that brain science and neuroscience is going to be a huge component of whatever the ultimate solution is but I think it's also, if you talk to some of those brain scientists, maybe late at night off the record, I think you'll find that there's about as big of diversity of opinion among brain scientists about the problem of consciousness as there is among philosophers. That is almost everyone will recognize that at least right now we're not even close to a solution. And maybe the division is between those who think that, 'well, if we just eventually keep doing it we'll come across something and that will be the key to the solution.' And people who think, 'Well, no we need to be doing something fundamentally different from what we're doing now to get to consciousness.'

I mean the basic worry is that if we're dealing with questions of explaining say behavior, from the third person point of view then it looks like the brain approach is pretty good - treat the mind as a giant computer and see what it gives rise to. But if we're interested in the problems of consciousness from the first person point of view there's just this basic mystery - why does all this processing in the brain give you a first person point of view. I think every now and then an ambitious neuroscientist writes a book claiming to solve the problem but I don't think even most neuroscientists have been too convinced by that so far.

- David Chalmers interviewed by Steve Paulson, July 24, 2012.

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