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Death: the skeleton key of consciousness studies?

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The role of consciousness in contemporary scientific thought is similar to the role of death in everyday emotional life. It is usually ignored or denied outright, frequently obsessed over, and is sometimes the inspiration for uncharacteristic breaches of common sense. It is time to state the obvious. The problem of consciousness is deeply interwoven with the problem of death. And yet death is rarely mentioned in relation to consciousness studies. Consciousness is the thing of consequence that dies. Surely this explains a great deal of why there is such an energetic conversation about consciousness, and why passions are so often raised concerning a subject whose basic nature is so elusive and disputed.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Computer Science, Columbia University, 500 W 120th Street, New York, NY 10027, USA.

Publication date: February 1, 1997


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