Mr. Eccles Presents | Mindscape: David Chalmers on Consciousness, Etc.

Blog post with show notes, audio player, and transcript:…


The “Easy Problems” of consciousness have to do with how the brain takes in information, thinks about it, and turns it into action. The “Hard Problem,” on the other hand, is the task of explaining our individual, subjective, first-person experiences of the world. What is it like to be me, rather than someone else? Everyone agrees that the Easy Problems are hard; some people think the Hard Problem is almost impossible, while others think it’s pretty easy.

Today’s guest, David Chalmers, is arguably the leading philosopher of consciousness working today, and the one who coined the phrase “the Hard Problem,” as well as proposing the philosophical zombie thought experiment. Recently he has been taking seriously the notion of panpsychism.

We talk about these knotty issues (about which we deeply disagree), but also spend some time on the possibility that we live in a computer simulation. Would simulated lives be “real”? (There we agree — yes they would.)

David Chalmers got his Ph.D. from Indiana University working under Douglas Hoftstadter.

He is currently University Professor of Philosophy and Neural Science at New York University and co-director of the Center for Mind, Brain, and Consciousness.

He is a fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities, the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Among his books are The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory, The Character of Consciousness, and Constructing the World.

He and David Bourget founded the PhilPapers project.

Dan Dennett discusses consciousness & self-deception

We fool ourselves with frightening regularity, and to me, a fundamental difference between skeptics and true believers is the tendency of the latter to convince themselves that they cannot be fooled, that none can take advantage of them, even to the extent of thinking themselves immune to self-deception, the first and most basic of all deceptions, ultimately leading to vulnerability to any bamboozle that saunters up to them.

And I’ve seen this happen with some pretty smart, well-educated, and sane people, who use their sharp wits and good education to better effect in keeping themselves fooled on some very important issues, by crafting clever, very clever, too clever, arguments in my view, that sound perfectly rational to the unwary, but the argumentation strategies and language used betraying their specious nature and raising a host of red flags.

Arguments so clever and well-articulated that their makers notice nary a thing wrong…

Daniel Dennett here discusses the issue of how our brains actively fool us, and how it can and does go on in even the most skeptical of us, requiring extreme caution whenever we are tempted to think with our proverbial gut, and in acting on it, getting us into a lot of trouble in the process.