These pages are devoted to short discussions of some of the major thinkers and theories about consciousness. The selection of topics is idiosyncratic and there are still some regrettable omissions. The pieces are meant to be brief and lively,and written from a distinct point of view (sometimes more than one point of view), and this naturally makes it difficult at times to do full justice to the views or the people under consideration. But no-one is mentioned here who I do not sincerely respect and admire, however much I may think they are mistaken on some points. Clearly the only way to get a full understanding of what someone is saying is to read their own books or papers, a course I heartily recommend.
One possible source of confusion is that some of the discussions here are presented as dialogues between two different characters. One of these, whom I think of as ‘Blandula’, after the Emperor Hadrian’s verse* addressed to his own soul, is represented by a sort of cherub, and is suspicious of reductive and materialist ideas: the other, (‘Bitbucket’, represented by an abacus) takes the opposite view. I hope this helps both sides to benefit from vigorous advocacy, but the two characters are merely figments of my imagination and I cannot supply email addresses for either of them.
I hope, in any case, that you find something here interesting or amusing. Criticisms, suggestions, and queries about the site will be attended to as quickly as my amateurism, restricted intelligence, incompetence, sloth, and generally bad attitude to work and customer service permit.
*This is the poem: it’s carved on Hadrian’s tomb.
Animula vagula blandula,
Hospes comesque corporis,
Quae nunc abibis in loca,
Pallidula, rigida, nudula,
Nec, ut soles, dabis iocos.
This is my translation – a bit free, obviously..
My little pale and wandering soul
My body’s guest and friend,
Wherever will you go to now,
When we have reached the end?
So white and clenched now you’re outside,
No covering for you;
No body now to share some fun
The way we used to do.