Meetup type: Moderated discussion (attendees should watch the 2 videos and read the 2 articles before the meetup)
- Antonio Damasio: The quest to understand consciousness
Every morning we wake up and regain consciousness -- that is a marvelous fact -- but what exactly is it that we regain? Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio uses this simple question to give us a glimpse into how our brains create our sense of self. His research in neuroscience has shown that emotions play a central role in social cognition and decision-making. His work has had a major influence on current understanding of the neural systems, which underlie memory, language, consciousness.
- Dan Dennett: The illusion of consciousness
Philosopher Dan Dennett makes a compelling argument that not only don't we understand our own consciousness, but that half the time our brains are actively fooling us. He argues that human consciousness and free will are the result of physical processes and are not what we traditionally think they are. His 2003 book Freedom Evolves explores the way our brains have evolved to give us -- and only us -- the kind of freedom that matters, while 2006's Breaking the Spell examines religious belief through the lens of biology.
- Gary Gutting: Mary and the Zombies: Can Science Explain Consciousness?
We trust science because its claims are based on experience. But experience itself is a subjective reality that seems to elude the objectivity of scientific understanding. We know that our experiences—of seeing red, feeling pain, falling in love and so forth—depend on physical systems like the brain that science can, in principle, exhaustively explain. But it’s hard to make sense of the idea that experiences themselves could be physical.
- Gary Gutting has written a follow-up article examining the comments received regarding the above article.
The first 2 items consider consciousness a materialistic phenomenon and Gary Gutting has a non-materialistic leaning towards the subject. Another resource rooting for the latter vision is The Institute of Noetic Sciences (see their overview and vision).
Meetup charge: free, but attendees should order something for themselves from the restaurant. You can order from the self-service in the upstairs when you arrive or during our meetup.
Group's policy on RSVPs: Every member is expected to respect their RSVP for each event and keep it up to date. Two instances of non-respect of the RSVP will lead to the member being removed from the group. The waiting list is on Automatic which means that the first person on the waiting list gets in automatically, as soon as a spot opens up. If the person can no longer attend, they must change their RSVP to No as soon as possible and certainly before the meetup starts.