John Searle studies consciousness — which, as he points out in today’s talk, is a “curiously neglected subject in our scientific and philosophical culture.” Curiously — because it is, after all, a pre-condition for anything else we think about. And yet neglected — because consciousness is a subject that makes scientists huffy (they see it as something subjective) and that makes philosophers uncomfortable (since it speaks to the mind and body being of different realms).
In this talk, Searle lays out a simple way to understand this complex phenomenon: as a condition of our biology. As he puts it, all states of consciousness are the result of neurobiological processes in the brain. “Consciousness is a biological phenomenon like photosynthesis, digestion or mitosis,” he says. “Once you accept that, most though not all of the hard problems about consciousness evaporate.”
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