Feb 6, 2008 · 7:00 PM
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Our next meeting is next Wednesday, Feb 6th at 7 PM. My apologies for the website saying the next meeting was Feb 13th... there was an "auto announcer" I hadn't turned off yet. (New guy syndrome). I look forward to seeing both new faces and familiar faces. A good time portends!!!
Our next topic will be "What is consciousness?"
We all think we're conscious, sentient beings, which is why we've chosen to join the Philosophy meetup, i.e. "I think, therefore I am". But just *what* is consciousness? Is the sum greater than the parts? Science tell us our mind is an emergent behavior from a collection of neurons we call a brain, but what is this experience called consciousness? Some questions to get those philosophical juices flowing:
Does everyone experience consciousness in the same way?
Is this nothing more than "software running on hardware" or is there something deeper to our consciousness that transcends the molecules making up our brain? Indeed, does consciousness only reside in the brain or is it distributed about your body or beyond?
Do we humans have a monopoly on consciousness? Are our fellow creatures conscious? Can a silicon computer one day be conscious? And what are the moral ramifications to these questions... is it killing if we pull the plug?
And a different tack entirely: How many heads do you have?
Your head obviously exists "inside" the "external universe" and "outside" your brain which contains the model of the "external universe".
But of course, you can visualize your head as part of the model which exists inside your head. This head we perceive exists inside some other head which we cannot perceive because it is outside. This second head contains your model of the universe, your model of this galaxy, your model of Earth, on down to your inner model of your home and finally a model of your head within all this. The model of your head occupies much less space than your "real" head. So where is the consciousness? Is the head outside more real than the head inside? Do you really have 2 heads???
Finally, some web based reading for those of you predisposed... Did you know you can get a college degree in consciousness? Try the Center for Consciousness at the University of AZ:
And a bazillion papers on both the philosophy and science of consciousness: