Blog #27: Consciousness is Hard to Spell

I was absent today, but I interviewed Olivia, Anthony, and Emily for what I missed. In class, we went over our next project which will entail interviewing different teachers about their teaching philosophies. We also watched 13 minutes of John Searle’s Ted Talk on consciousness, which I have taken notes on below. However, I’m sad that I missed the Scottish comedian video.


  • Consciousness is not part of the physical world (it belongs to the soul)
  • It either exists or it doesn’t exist at all
  • It does not belong to science
  • Science is objective and consciousness is subjective, therefore consciousness is not related to science 
  • Consciousness is a biological phenomenon like photosynthesis 
  1. It does not exist it is an illusion
  2. Maybe it exists, it’s a computer program running in the brain
  3. Consciousness is heavily influenced by behavior  
  4. Maybe consciousness exists but it can’t make any difference to the world 
  • Common sense definition: consists of all those states of feeling, sensations, awareness. It begins in the morning when you wake up and goes on until you die or go unconscious.
  • Dreams are a form of consciousness.
  • The mind-body problem can be solved: all of our conscious states are caused by lower-level neurological processes in the brain. They are realized in the brain as higher-level features.  
  • Your brain can go from consciousness to unconsciousness based on the molecules in our brain
  •  If it consciously seems to you that you are conscious, then you are conscious 

FEATURES of consciousness

  • It’s real and irreducible, you cannot get rid of it
  • Conscious states have a qualitative character to them
  • Conscious states are subjective because they only exist as experienced by a human or animal subject
  • Comes in unified conscious fields 
  • Functions causally in our behavior 

Early objection responses:

  • If consciousness exists it’s a computer program running in our brain (we know that’s wrong) Human consciousness has something more than that. Consciousness creates an observer-independent reality. The things we observe are only relative to conscious observers. Some computations are intrinsic. 

Stopped: 13:13

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