Secrets of the Mind is a lively IAI discussion of consciousness. Iain McGilchrist speaks intriguingly of matter being a phase of consciousness, and suggests the brain might simply be an expert transducer. Nicholas Humphrey, who seems to irritate McGilchrist quite a lot, thinks it’s all an illusion. As McGilchrist says, illusions seem to require consciousness, so there’s a problem there. I also wonder what it means to say that pain is an illusion. If I say a fairy palace is an illusion, I mean there is no real palace out there, just something in my mind, but if I say a pain is illusory, what thing out there am I denying the reality of? Roger Penrose unfortunately talks mainly about his (in my view) unappealing theory of microtubules rather than his more interesting argument against computationalism. His own description here suggests he settled on quantum mechanics just because it seemed the most likely place to find non-computational processes, which doesn’t seem a promising strategy to me.

Ultimately those secrets remain unrevealed;  McGilchrist (and Penrose in respect of the Hard Problem) seem to think they probably always will.

One Comment

  1. 1. Lloyd Rice says:

    Are we destined to talk around and around and around about this? I think not. I believe that computational studies will open up the field within … 10 … 20 ..? years. We will build things that behave as we do in the sense that they say they experience the same kinds of things we talk about. In my view, the cerebrum has a lot to do with it, in the sense of being positioned to integrate sensory inputs from lots of places, including internal bodily feedback. Penrose wonders about the cerebellum. But it has a lot of other things to do. It’s not in an integrative role. The same could be said for the striatum, just to name one of many other parts of the brain that do specific things. The frontal lobes are different. They are positioned for generality.

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