Blog #29: CHALMERS

Notes and questions about Chalmers

  • Stream of consciousness constant narrative 
  • “At the heart of this movie is you” “this movie is your stream of consciousness”
  • Consciousness is part of all humans
  • Consciousness is what makes life worth living (brain dead people)
  • Most mysterious phenomena in the universe, why are we consciousness in the first place. Why aren’t we just robots?
  • To integrate consciousness into science we need to use radical ideas
  • There can never be a science of consciousness??? Searle?


  • We are studying consciousness and the brain through correlations (disproven by hume)
  • Science of correlation and not the explanation, we know that there’s a connection, but not why. If we don’t know why, how can we know that the connection is valid?
  • Questions about behavior are easier than questions about consciousness
  • Why is it all this behavior is accompanied by subjective things
  • There is a chain of explanations (physics explains chem then bio then psychology, but consciousness is missing from this picture because we don’t know how to incorporate into our scientific view of the world
  • It is an anomaly
  • We need crazy ideas before science 
  • Reductionist brain-based theory of consciousness
  • Dan Dennet: the subjective experience is an allusion and confusion 

  • 2 crazy ideas 
  • 1: consciousness is fundamental (that’s how we do things in physics, so why not consciousness bc we build up the world up from there.) Sometimes that we need to expand the fundamentals. If you can’t explain consciousness with the current fundamentals you need to make more. So make consciousness a fundamental itself. This opens up a new category of science for it. We’re after simple things.
  • 2: consciousness might be universal. Everything might have some degree of consciousness. This is called panpsychism. Pan for all, psych for the mind. Everything has some elements of consciousness feeling. Less counterintuitive to other cultures. Panpsychism is very similar to animism (have life and spirit) which contradicts the western fundamental scientific view. 
  • Giulio Tononi (phi) and that it goes along with consciousness
  • The amount of phi consciousness gets smaller with some things but it is still non-zero
  • High phi means high consciousness
  • Take physics to describe the flux of consciousness
  • May have social and ethical consequences
  • Jainism people believe everything is conscious
  • Relates to Descartes (inquiry, cogito, opposing panpsychism)
  • Descartes would believe in panpsychism 
  • If you make something material you are making it possible to be investigated 
  • Disagrees with Searle because he thinks that computers are conscious because he is a pan-psychist (complex consciousness)
  • Real AI is trying to model human experience 
  • Samantha and “Her” raises ethical issues 
  • Doesn’t know if we create a collective consciousness out of our individual ones

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