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Tuesday 7 April — New Scientist Live: Consciousness and the Extended Mind

For those who happen to be in Edinburgh and are interested in consciousness. Or, like, it’s spring break and you’re spending some days down south. You might want to check out the Edinburgh International Science Festival

— in particular the debate on Consciousness and the Extended Mind, with some absolute hot shots there!

“It’s one of the biggest questions of our existence. What is consciousness? Millennia after Aristotle and Hippocrates wrestled with the concept of the mind and self-awareness, neuroscientists, roboticists and psychologists are starting to pin down answers. Join a panel of experts for an evening of lively debate on what we know about the workings of our brains and how our minds extend into our bodies and the world around us – through walking sticks, prostheses, body swaps and machine melds. Philosopher Andy Clark from the University of Edinburgh will be your guide. Artificial intelligence pioneer Margaret Boden of the University of Sussex and neuroscientists Patrick Haggard and Micah Allen from University College London will join him to discuss what we can learn about ourselves from creating artificial consciousness and whether revealing the brain’s inner workings will solve the hard problem of consciousness – how a kilogram or so of nerve cells conjures up the seamless kaleidoscope of sensations, thoughts and emotions that occupy our every waking moment.”

Speakers’ websites:

Micah Allen is also an avid blogger and universal spreader of information on neuroscience and consciousness, so check him out at, or his Twitter-account.

New awesome set of consciousness papers

From the Thomas Metzinger lab, in collaboration with Jennifer Windt and Ying-Tung Lin, comes this great collection of target papers, each with commentary and reply (heavy on philosophical approaches, but far from exclusively so!)

Look at the list of contributors — a grand set of specialists if ever I saw one. Especially the discussion/reply format is a welcome addition to the more topical Blackwell and the Oxford encyclopaedic ones.

TEDblog — The hard problem of consciousness: David Chalmers at TED2014

I’ll be posting the video as soon as it becomes available through TED; in the meanwhile, read a synopsis here:

EDIT: here is the link to Chalmers’ TED talk on the hard problem of consciousness


The Web’s Largest Database of Consciousness Papers

Years ago philosopher David Chalmers put together a database of online papers on consciousness – it now contains about 7734 free online available papers neatly categorised:

It is truly Ali Baba’s cave, especially because they are topically organised.

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has a excellent primer on the basics of the Philosophy of Consciousness. It is a useful introduction to the topic and would be good background reading to those who struggle a bit with Philosophical aspects of the course.

Consciousness through the Minds of Philosophers: Materialism

The soul persists but the body does not, many religions hold, but what if consciousness is just a result of the physical and nothing more? This is what modern materialists hold.

Materialism; a brief history

Materialism rose through the ranks with the advent of (more…)

Consciousness Through the Minds of Philosophers: Dualism

Exploring the true nature of consciousness has plagued the minds of philosophers and scientists alike for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. If you study consciousness, however, you already have a philosophical view on consciousness perhaps without knowing it. A view you might hold is dualism: that a conscious mental state is something non-physical at least in some way. Specific dualist theories may differ on the amount of the non-physical, depending on your view of what….

Dualism; a brief history

Historically, intelligence and thought was considered something non-materialistic and unknowable in the physical – something akin to the soul. This emphasis on the mind rather than the body orginates with Plato, who believed the world to be made of several elements including t (more…)