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Final Installment of Mind-Body Philosophy series at Meditation Center

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By Frank Simons

The Meditation Center presents the 24th and final part of the Great Courses series Mind-Body Philosophy this June 21. The title is “A Philosophical Science of Consciousness?”

This lecture tackles the question of how to integrate a better philosophy of consciousness and a better science of mind. Throughout this series, in addition to the philosophical and scientific approaches, we also have also considered the information-theoretic approach; we can learn about the mind by trying to build information processing devices that mimic mental functioning. But none of these approaches can give us the answers we are after. The hard problem of consciousness remains unexplained.

Sometimes the problem is phrased in very strong terms. The realm of science is the realm of objectivity. The realm of consciousness is precisely the opposite; it is the realm of the subjective, the essentially private. A science of consciousness is therefore a contradiction in terms, or so the reasoning goes. The real conclusion is simply that objective access to the subjective realm is necessarily indirect. That’s not so different from much of the rest of our science, which similarly relies on indirect indicators.

What is the link between the material brain and subjective experience? The answer would go something like this: In the first step, we would be able to see that consciousness has been evolutionarily selected for because it does whatever it does. In the second step, the formal sciences would give us a functional description of the process involved. In the third step, work in the brain sciences would show us how the brain makes that abstract function concrete. Might not that give us an answer to the hard problem?

It is possible the hypothesis that we’ll never know how consciousness happens is correct. But, if accepted, it would guarantee that we’ll never know. We have an intellectual obligation to try to figure things out—including consciousness.

Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Stony Brook Professor 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 24: “A Philosophical Science of Consciousness?”

Thu, Jun 21, 5:30pm

Meditation Center

Callejón Blanco 4

Free, donations accepted

044 415 156 1950




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