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Part 7 of Mind-Body Philosophy Series at Meditation Center

mind body 7

By Frank Simons

The Meditation Center presents part 7 of 24-part Great Courses series Mind-Body Philosophy, entitled “Mistakes about Our Own Consciousness,” at 5:30pm, Thursday February 22, at the Center, callejón Blanco 4.

Nothing is more intimate and immediate to us than our own consciousness. Surely we can’t be wrong about what we see, hear, taste, smell, and feel. We can be wrong about the external things we think we hear: music could be live rather than recorded, for example. But we are not wrong about how things seem to us. Surely the core of that idea is right. Or is it? The focus of this lecture will be the ways we can be wrong, surprisingly wrong, even about our own consciousness.

Consciousness is like watching a movie. This inner-theater representation may come in handy, but it won’t do as a complete description of consciousness. It doesn’t include all the senses. And it only makes sense if there is a spectator. How does that inner person see the screen? We use the picture metaphor in describing memories—what it’s like to remember something or someone, what it’s like to imagine. But the metaphor doesn’t fit all that well. You can remember what a penny looks like, but you are unlikely to remember the details. So remembering is not much like a picture.

Blind spots are another case in which we use the picture metaphor for consciousness. The basic physiological explanation for the blind spot is as simple as that for color blindness. Impulses from the retinal cells are transferred to the brain by binding over a million nerve fibers into a single optic nerve. The blind spot is there because the optic nerve makes things too crowded for light-detecting photoreceptors. Daniel Dennett says the brain merely registers that there is more of the same in the area of the blind spot. It tells you not to expect anything different there, so you don’t.

Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Stony Brook Patrick Grim has provided his students with invaluable insights into issues of philosophy, artificial intelligence, theoretical biology, and other fields. Professor Grim was awarded the university’s presidential and chancellor’s awards for teaching excellence and was elected to the Academy of Teachers and Scholars.

There will be an opportunity for discussion following the video.

Presentations of the Center are offered without charge. Donations are gratefully accepted.


Video Presentation

Mind-Body Philosophy Part 7: Mistakes about Our Own Consciousness

Thu, Feb 22, 5:30pm

Meditation Center

Callejón Blanco 4

Free, donations accepted

044 415 156 1950



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