Consciousness: The Great Illusion?

By Alison Gopnik, the New York Times

An excerpt: Humphrey, an emeritus professor of psychology at the London School of Economics, may not have solved the mind-body problem, and there is something to be said for the awkward geekery of philosophical analysis and experimental data. But he has some really interesting and original ideas about consciousness.

Many philosophers say it’s impossible to explain our conscious experience in scientific, biological terms at all. But that’s not exactly true. Scientists have explained why we have certain experiences and not others. It’s just that they haven’t explained the special features of consciousness that philosophers care about.

For example, why does the moon look so much larger when it’s at the horizon than when it’s overhead, at the zenith? This is a question about conscious experience — about how the world looks to us — not about behavior and brains. And there is a clear and convincing evolutionary explanation.  

Read the article.

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons.

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