Sunday, June 26, 2011

TEDxSydney - David Chalmers - The Extended Mind


A nice talk from former U of Arizona philosophy professor and ongoing co-chair of the Toward a Science of Consciousness Conference, held in Tucson and other international locations on alternating years. He is perhaps most known for the extended mind theory theory of consciousness (co-authored with Andy Clark in 1998) and for defining the "hard problem" of consciousness, explaining how and why we have qualitative phenomenal experiences.

His most recent book was The Character of Consciousness (2010).

This is an important area of exploration - for centuries, mind was something abstract and poorly understood. As science replaced religion as the dominant paradigm, mind has increasingly been reduced to brain, a very materialistic perspective that ignores or even rejects subjectivity and phenomenal experience.

Yet, at the same time, people such as Kenneth Gergen, Lev Vygotsky, Jerome Bruner, and even the Freudian psychoanalyst Harry Stack Sullivan have advocated for an interpersonal understanding of mind and consciousness. But these perspectives only cover three of the four experiences of mind - the biological, the subjective, and the interpersonal. What Chalmers and Clark (and others who have proposed similar ideas) have done is bring in the fourth realm of mind, the technological. This allows for a fully integral understanding of mind.
David Chalmers is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Centre for Consciousness at the Australian National University.

Chalmers is interested in the relationship between mind, brain and reality. He is best known for formulating the "hard problem" of consciousness and for his arguments against materialism.

His 1996 book The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory was highly successful with both popular and academic audiences. In 2010 he gave the John Locke Lectures at the University of Oxford. These will shortly be published as his book Constructing the World . He also works on language, metaphysics, and artificial intelligence.

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