In this TED talk Australian philosopher David Chalmers gets to the heart of the matter regarding consciousness ….. the deep issues that have fascinated me for most of my life and in my search for answers have stimulated my writing.
I am of the opinion that human beings can be split into two groups …. those for whom the questions raised here by Professor Chalmers are of absolutely no interest whatsoever … indeed these individuals do not see ANY mystery here …. and thos…e of us who believe this to be THE most important question of all.
These two groups will never appreciate each others position because for one group material is all there is. There is nothing else. As thought and consciousness are non-material things they don’t actually exist. They deny that they are anything other than their brain processes; they are simply an “epiphenomenon” of electricity reacting with chemicals within the skull. There is nothing else.
For the other group consciousness is prime … for them ALL experience is consciousness. The outside world may or may not exist as it is perceived because that is all we ACTUALLY do …. perceive. In effect the process here is that something is perceiving something … and that “perceiver” is self-aware, referential consciousness. For this group the huge mystery is how something totally non-physical (thought and awareness) can exist within a totally materialist universe. I am a fully paid-up member of that second group. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t even have some of the answers. Indeed my questions vastly outnumber my answers and as I get older and learn more so my questions increase.
Sadly the other group have all the answers … they know they are right and that there is nothing at all odd about consciousness … it just is.
In this talk David Chalmers gets right down to the real issues … and doesn’t pull any punches ….. and all credit to him.