Consciousness

Home » Uncategorized » Consciousness is not mysterious. It’s just the brain describing itself—to itself.

Consciousness is not mysterious. It’s just the brain describing itself—to itself.

In this interesting piece, Michael Graziano, the researcher who wrote Consciousness and the Social Brain (in between children’s books and musical pieces), expands on how consciousness is essentially the result of a process in which the brain re-describes itself to itself, kind of the brain representing itself. Graziano, together with his wife Sabine Kastner, puts forward the idea that the origin of this capacity lies in being a social species that has Theory of Mind. So, rather than assuming we have introspective capabilities that we can turn to others, the idea is that over the course of evolution we developed ways of predicting what others will do, using some sort of model of what the other is, and eventually we learned to turn that model on ourselves, the brain thus learning to inspect its own processes.

Philosopher Peter Carruthers made a philosophical case about this some time ago in an interesting paper (which however relies a lot on the notion of representationalism), and Axel Cleeremans, Antoine Pasquali, and I put forward similar ideas suggesting that there are multiple levels in which a brain can represent its content to itself, modelling how it might do so (digest general article; theory article 1; theory article 2; neural network modelling article)


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