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From the biological self to psychological self

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In his book On Consciousness, David Chalmers famously argued that a thermostat might be conscious and that consciousness might even be associated in some way with a rock or an electron. Although empirically-minded people find it hard to take this seriously, Chalmers rightly stated that anyone who thought that the thermostat idea was ‘crazy’ was obliged to explain why.

I believe the short explanation for why the thermostat is not conscious is that it is stuck to the wall. The longer explanation I will venture is that consciousness is a feature of mobile, self-propelled, self-protective biological individuals. We should not be intimidated by ‘zombie-twin’ arguments involving possible worlds into thinking that the ‘hard problem’ is completely resistant to scientific enquiry and reflection.

This talk is part of the CamPoS (Cambridge Philosophy of Science) seminar series.

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