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Being Conscious:

The science and philosophy of consciousness

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  • The Debate

    Being Conscious

    No mystery has puzzled scientists and philosophers more deeply than the problem of how the brain transcends its physical origins. What is consciousness and how is it possible? Can we ever understand the workings of our own minds?

    The Panel

    Mathematician and author of The Emperor's New Mind Sir Roger Penrose, psychiatrist and writer Iain McGilchrist, and controversial postmodern sociologist Steve Fuller ask what it means to be conscious.

  • Find out more about speakers

Jump to what you want to see in the debate
  • The Debate
    Theme One
    Can quantum mechanics explain consciousness?
  • The Debate
    Theme Two
    What do we mean by consciousness?
  • The Debate
    Theme Three
    Can consciousness be explained?
  • The Debate
    Theme Four
    Can explanations of consciousness be entirely neurological?
  • The Debate
    Theme Five
    Can we build an intelligent machine?
  • The Debate
    Theme Six
    Is there something special about humans?
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Annie Gisvold on 05/07/2016 10:27pm

When one speaks of consciousness, perhaps in particular about consciousness as it pertains to and is experienced by human beings, it strikes me as odd that not one of the participants in this conversation hits upon the idea that consciousness has many levels and that there are fluctuations within each level, and that hte quality of consciousness varies all the time, from moment to moment, so to speak. For instance, the great difference between the quality of consciousness of a person when he is asleep and when he is awake should be quite obviously something that ought to be taken into account when talking about consciousness. And what about other levels? Are other levels of consiousness possible for a human being, and if so, what would that mean in terms of a persons life?

Tue Pho on 04/02/2016 2:04pm

Xác định chắc chắn hơn về ý thức là thấy về nó như một sự tự bộc lộ. Nghĩ về ý thức đã là một tiến trình đuổi bắt không thể đem một kết quả thực sự. Một vài kinh nghiệm của các thiền giả sẽ mở rộng dữ kiện hơn cho việc nghiên cứu vấn đề. Trong trạng thái thiền định, mặc dầu tôi không nhìn thấy gì( do nhắm mắt), không nghe gì...tuy nhiên trong tâm trí vẫn hiển hiện những hình ảnh như một cái hoa sen vàng, một vòng tròn thái cực kể các các màu sắc của nó, cũng có thể là một hình kim tự tháp. Một sự mở rộng ý thức sẽ là tâm thức. Và cấp độ cao hơn có thể là thần thức. Tuy vậy, các khảo sát này lại phụ thuộc vào mức độ thiền định của hành giả. Nó không phải là một ảo tưởng nhưng cũng không phải là những hình ảnh của giác quan bình thường.

Catherine Moore on 26/12/2015 2:44pm

Being part of consciousness is like a being a drop of rain in the sea.

Symbols help to uncover mysteries. Ian hinted at that when he talked about certain experiences and spiritualism being possible channels which can 'see' consciousness instead of 'think' about it.

Raghavan Srinivas on 26/03/2014 12:01pm

We attempt to define consciousness. Is it self awareness? Is it the source of intelligence? Is it neurological? Do other beings have consciousness? Are the so called inert or inanimate objects have no consciousness in them or is it we are unable to perceive it as it is beyond our present level of capabilities? I feel that we are a product of consciousness. We still have to overcome our perceived limitations to fathom the real vastness of consciousness with its limitless potentialities.

Raghavan Srinivas on 26/03/2014 11:52am

Consciousness is mostly analyzed through embodiment, leaving a possibility unexplored. That is consciousness is not limited by embodiment, it can independently exist, and in fact the process of embodiment itself owes its origin to consciousness! In other words consciousness can transcend limitations of time and matter. It seems to me,that it is yet another misconception to consider consciousness that has been compartmentalized with its physical starting and end point. It permeates the vast expanse of this universal creation and beyond. Only its visible expression we apprehend through our faculties that are again grossly under utilized! That is we have not yet unraveled our limitless capabilities to transcend our own perceived boundaries with respect to our consciousness. We presume that we can not see without our eyes, we can not hear without our ears and so on. When a device like a cell phone is available what we could not do comes within the realm of a possibility. So it is certain that there is a possibility to go beyond. We must strive.

Naeem Naeem on 13/01/2014 1:23pm

I know that I dont know.

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