Sunday, July 21, 2013

Owen Flanagan - Why the Hard Problem of Consciousness Is Not So Hard

The "hard problem of consciousness," a phrase coined by philosopher David Chalmers, refers to the challenge of explaining how and why we have qualia or phenomenal experiences — how the mass of sensations we experience acquire characteristics, such as colors, sounds, or tastes.

Owen Flanagan, philosopher and neurobiologist, believes the hard problem is not really all that hard.
Flanagan has proposed that there is a "natural method" to go about understanding consciousness that involves creating a science of mind. Three key elements of this developing science are: 1) paying attention to subjective reports on conscious experiences, 2) incorporating the results from psychology and cognitive science, and 3) including the results from neuroscience that will reveal how neuronal systems produce consciousness. Flanagan is also responsible for bringing attention to the relevancy of empirical psychology on the way we think of moral psychology. His efforts spawned the modern field of moral psychology.[1]

Flanagan has argued previously (see The Problem Of The Soul: Two Visions Of Mind And How To Reconcile Them, 2003) that the mind and the brain are essentially identical.

Needless to say, readers of this blog will know that I find such views incredibly reductive. The human mind is emergent from the brain, and it exists in a particular and specific worldspace—a particular quadrant, level, line, state, and type. The mind is a sensorimotor, subjective, intersubjective, cultural, environmental (physical, political, economic, etc), and temporal experience, all of them simultaneously, without exception.

Owen Flanagan: Why the hard problem of consciousness is not so hard

Published on May 21, 2013

The brain is a horrendously complex and poorly understood system that poses both an immense challenge -- and possibly rich rewards -- to neuroscientists, psychologists, philosophers, and computer scientists. To celebrate Waterloo's recent establishment of the Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience, which integrates these approaches to the brain, and to highlight the already established Cognitive Science Program, we have invited internationally renowned speakers to present generally accessible lectures from each of these perspectives.
Here is some bonus Flanagan - in this discussion he defends the Naturalist approach in neuroscience and the philosophy of consciousness.

Owen Flanagan and Alex Rosenberg - The Significance of Naturalism

Owen Flanagan (left) and Alex Rosenberg (right) on the significance of naturalism.
OCTOBER 6TH, 2011 
Naturalists believe that the world is scientifically intelligible (at least in principle). Thus, naturalists doubt the reality of anything that cannot fit into a scientific worldview. How discomforting are naturalists’ doubts? Can naturalists coherently regard life as meaningful? Rosenberg is happily pessimistic about the answers to such questions. In this conversation, Rosenberg defends his pessimism, and Flanagan resists it. They discuss whether Darwin banished purpose (17:27), why naturalists get up in the morning (34:30), and morality and politics from a naturalist perspective (49:45), among other topics.
Post a Comment