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Consciousness - what is the problem, and how should it be addressed?

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[opening paragraph]: Imagine you are a scientist (or anthropologist?) from Mars observing Gary Kasparov playing a tournament with a chess computer. Would you have any reason to postulate consciousness in one player, but not the other? What is consciousness? How does the body produce it, and what is it for? Most people do not realize that there is a problem here because our conscious experience is the thing we know best. We are all familiar with the colours, smells and scenes around us, the pains and itches we feel and the thoughts that are in our heads. Our world consists (and some might say exclusively consists) of conscious experiences. By ‘conscious experience’ I mean anything that you have an awareness of, absolutely anything. I do not mean anything recondite like your capacity to reflect upon your own experiences, something which one might suppose that only we as human beings have and animals do not. I mean the absolute basics, like feeling pain.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institute of Psychiatry, De Crespigny Park, Denmark Hill, London SE5 8AF, UK

Publication date: January 1, 1995


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