Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I Say I Am Conscious, Therefore I Am

A fascinating article (here) by Princeton neuroscientist Michael Graziano at Aeon on the hard problem of consciousness. Here's what I take to be the take-home point:
The most basic, measurable, quantifiable truth about consciousness is simply this: we humans can say that we have it. We can conclude that we have it, couch that conclusion into language and then report it to someone else. Speech is controlled by muscles, which are controlled by neurons. Whatever consciousness is, it must have a specific, physical effect on neurons, or else we wouldn’t be able to communicate anything about it. Consciousness cannot be what is sometimes called an epiphenomenon — a floating side-product with no physical consequences — or else I wouldn’t have been able to write this article about it.

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