eBook | A Blueprint for the Hard Problem of Consciousness

Why we need a blueprint for consciousness

The enigma of how consciousness rises from biological phenomena has perplexed scientists, leading some of the greatest minds, including Nobel Laureates Leon Cooper, Francis Crick, Gerald Edelman, Eric Kandel, and Charles Sherrington, to conclude that answering this question is one of the greatest challenges in science. As Shallice [1] concludes, “The problem of consciousness occupies an analogous position for cognitive psychology as the problem of language behavior does for behaviorism, namely, an unsolved anomaly within the domain of the approach”.

Similarly, Chalmers [2] states, “We know consciousness far more intimately than we know the rest of the world, but we understand the rest of the world far better than we understand consciousness”. The puzzle of “consciousness-and-the-brain,” or of the “mind-body” problem, is often ranked as one of the top two unanswered scientific questions [3].

When speaking about consciousness, we are referring to its most basic form, the kind falling under the rubrics of ‘subjective experience,’ ‘qualia,’ ‘sentience,’ ‘basic awareness,’ and ‘phenomenal state.’ This basic form of consciousness has been best defined by Nagel [4], who claimed that an organism has basic consciousness if there is something it is like to be that organism—something it is like, for example, to be human and experience pain, love, or breathlessness. Similarly, Block [5] claimed, “the phenomenally conscious aspect of a state is what it is like to be in that state”. Read out the full version here.


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Paulo Jacomo Negro

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