Link to Susan Blackmore
Stuart Sutherland, 1989: "Consciousness is a fascinating but elusive phenomenon; it is impossible to specify what it is, what it does, or why it evolved. Nothing worth reading has been written on it."
Christof Koch, 2004: "We live at a unique point in the history of science. The technology to discover and characterize how the subjective mind emerges out of the objective brain is within reach. The next years will prove decisive."
Exemplars: perceptions, emotions, thoughts.
Prototypical features: awareness, attention, experience.
Explanations: consciousness causes action; consciousness is caused by attention?
1. Dualism: consciousness is a spiritual state, independent of body (Descartes, Chalmers).
2. Idealism: everything is consciousness (Rescher).
3. Identity theory: consciousness is a brain state (Smart, later Churchlands, Thagard).
4. Functionalism: consciousness is a functional state, so a computer or a force field could be conscious.
5. Eliminative materialism: consciousness is one of those features of folk psychology that will be eliminated as science develops (early Churchlands).
6. Mysterious materialism (McGinn): Consciousness is somehow material, but we will never be able to figure out how.
7. Consciousness is an illusion (Blackmore, Dennett?).
8. Consciousness is a mathematical quantity (Tononi, Koch).
Thagard: Why cognitive science needs philosophy and vice versa.
What is a mental state?
1. Dualism: mental state = non-material state of spiritual mind. E.g. Descartes, Eccles, religious views.
2. Idealism: everything is mental. Pan-psychism: everything is conscious, at least to a degree.
3. Identity theory: mental state = brain state. E.g. JJC Smart 1950s
4. Functionalism: mental state = functional state of an information processing system. There is an underlying physical state (functionalism is a kind of materialism) but the physical state places no constraints on mental states.
5. Eliminative materialism: do not try to equate mental states with anything, since our theory of mental states is just part of folk psychology which is largely false. Instead, replace talk of mental states with theories drawn from human neuroscience. Reject functionalism because it is crucial that thinking is based in human brains. Paul and Pat Churchland.
6. Mysterian materialism: mental states are physical states, but are far too weird and complicated to be explained scientifically.
Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary study of mind and intelligence, including philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, linguistics, anthropology, and artificial intelligence.
History of philosophy: Plato, Aristotle, empiricists, rationalists.
Origins of experimental psychology in 1870s: Wundt, James, behaviorists
Computer analogy: thinking is representation + processing, a kind of computation.
This is a hypothesis, and might be false.
Challenges to cognitive science:
Aim: use theoretical neuroscience to explain (provide mechanisms for) all aspects of cognition, including rules, concepts, imagery, parallel constraint satisfaction, analogy, and emotion.
Computational Epistemology Laboratory.
This page updated Sept. 9, 2013