Posted May 14, 2013 by Dr. Henri Montandon in altered states

If the conscious self is an illusion – who is it that’s being fooled?

This weblog – – authored by Peter Hankins started as an attempt to quickly dispense with the problems that others were having with consciousness – a few pithy, essays, world enlightened, job done. As the story goes:

Hankins studied philosophy at University College London until graduating in 1979. Some time later, on hearing John Searle’s Reith Lectures, he thought that it should be possible to straighten out this business of consciousness with a couple of short essays, and he set up a web page to do it. Seven years later Conscious Entities is going strong and the plot continues to thicken.[1]

This is a useful site for students of consciousness science because it is thoughtful and invites comment – just like conversing with a real person.

“There’s some important element of the way the brain works that just doesn’t seem to be computational. But why the hell not?”

He has written brief, useful critiques of some of the well-known luminaries in our consciousness science world: Gerald Edelman, David Chalmers, Roger Penrose, Daniel Dennett, Colin McGinn and John Searle.

“I have noticed as an empirical matter that when someone vigorously criticizes philosophy, they are generally about to offer us some.”

I especially like his attention to less well-known people in the field, because at this stage there is no consensus, there are many convictions still in play, and who knows where the  selections pressures of scientific method will take us?

A few examples: Rodrick Wallace and Roger G. Wallace’s mathematical exploration of Bernard Baars’ global workspace theory – A Spectrum of Consciousness.

Johnjoe McFadden on the conscious electromagnetic information (CEMI) field –
CEMI and meaning.

Sid Kouider on the question of neonatal consciousness – Are babies conscious?

“If qualia can exist in the absence of any subjective self-awareness, that suggests they’re not as tightly tied to people as we might have thought. That would surely give comfort to the panpsychists, who might be happy to think of qualia blossoming everywhere, in inanimate matter as well as in brains. I don’t find this an especially congenial perspective myself, but if it were true, we’d still want to look at personal thisness and how it makes the qualia of human beings different from the qualia of stones.”

As Hercule Poirot might have said, “It gets the little gray cells jumping!”


Dr. Henri Montandon