PH100 Lecture Notes

They can be explained scientifically they admit of a

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They can be explained scientifically: they admit of a computational or neurological explanation The hard problem of consciousness It is hard because it is recalcitrant to scientific explanation. The problem of consciousness persists despite the progress that we have made in the empirical sciences of the mind. What is the hard problem of consciousness? It is the problem of explaining the subjective qualitative character of experience. If we are to understand consciousness scientifically, we need to provide an account that explains why certain brain processes give rise to certain sensations. Functional Explanation Question : What makes the easy problems of consciousness easy and the hard problem hard? Answer: The easy problems are easy because they are amenable to a functional explanation. But the hard problem isn't. EXAMPLE: The reportability of mental states Before we provide a solution to this problem, we need to understand clearly what it means for a certain system to have the capacity to report on its internal states. To be able to report on internal states, the system must have information about those internal states Also needs to provide a report about those states. Once we have successfully specified this mechanism, then our work is over. CONLUSION: the easy problems of consciousness are because the admit of a functional explanation and because the empirical sciences of the mind are good at providing functional explanations October 2, 2012: The problem of consciousness cont. The hard problem of consciousness Even if you tell me everything that there is to be said about the function of all the mechanisms that are related to experience, you would still not have provided an explanation of why experiences have a certain phenomenal character. - Chalmer A case-study: The neurobiological theory of consciousness by Crick and Koch They believe the problem of consciousness can be solved only by explanations at the neural level What gives rise to consciousness is the synchronized firing of a set of neurons in the cerebral cortex at a certain frequency Suppose they are right: type of synchronized firing is correlated with consciousness. Have they provided a solution to the hard problem of consciousness? Chalmers: No
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Different approaches that cognitive scientists and neuroscientists have taken in response to the hard problem of consciousness: Instead of explaining experience, they explain something else. Some deny that there is a hard problem. Some claim to be providing a solution, but heir solution isn't clear Some explain the structure of experience Some locate the substrate of consciousness Need an “extra” ingredient Can't be physical (Chalmers) If the missing ingredient is physical, then it means that a physical account of consciousness is possible. Still an unanswered question: Why should this process give rise to experience?
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  • Fall '10
  • PeterBokulich
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