Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Consciousness = complicated!

Its possible that I'm only interested in this because I used to teach philosophy, but the latest "infographic" from the fabulous blog Information is Beautiful fascinates me. It's called "What Is Consciousness?" and I think it does a great job demonstrating how complex the scientific and philosophical positions/theories are about consciousness, and it's a good example of how a web interface can make a VERY complex subject accessible (at least a bit) and engaging. You get to choose a combination of three positions/theories about consciousness and answer a few demographic questions, then you are given a label for your philosophical positions (holler back at me, other "Emergent Dualistic Epiphenomenalistic Cognitivists"!)

I don't pretend to understand my label means or the implications of these different positions/theories, but I thought it was fun (really!) and thought provoking. I wouldn't go this "deep" into consciousness theories in a psych class, but maybe some students would be intrigued by it.

Other sources that help me think more deeply about consciousness: Daniel Dennet's and Douglas R. Hofstadter's thought experiments in The Mind's I (and other places), and Michael Gazzaniga's work on "split-brain" patients (these videos are a MUST use in a psych class, I think).

posted by Rob McEntarffer

1 comment:

Neezes said...

I agree about the split brain patients - I was watching an item on that with a class the other day. It's strange to think that the hemispheres might each have their own consciousness - one thing that I found frustrating from intro psych textbooks on this subject was that there was very little on what it felt like from the patient's point of view - focus just on experimental results.