You invest so much in it, don't you? It's what elevates you above the beasts of the field, it's what makes you special. Homo sapiens, you call yourself. Wise Man. Do you even know what it is, this consciousness you cite in your own exaltation? Do you even know what it's for?
Dr. Peter Watts
is no stranger to MetaFilter. But look past his sardonic nuptials
, heartbreaking eulogies
, and agonizing run-ins with fascists
) and you'll find one of the most brilliant, compelling, and disquieting
science fiction authors at work today. A marine biologist skilled at deep background research, his acclaimed
2006 novel Blindsight [full text]
-- a cerebral "first contact" tale led by a diverse crew of bleeding-edge post-humans -- is diamond-hard and deeply horrifying, wringing profound existential dread from such abstruse concepts as the Chinese Room
, the Philosophical Zombie
, Chernoff faces
, and the myriad quirks and blind spots
that haunt the human mind.
's last, shattering insight is not the end of the story -- along with crew
, a blackly funny in-universe lecture on resurrecting sociopathic vampirism
), and a rigorously-cited (and spoiler-laden) reference section
, tomorrow will see the release of
Dumbspeech State of Grace Echopraxia [website]
, the long-delayed
"sidequel" depicting parallel events on Earth. Want more? Look inside for a guide to the rest of Watts' award-winning (and provocative) body of work. [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi
on Aug 25, 2014 -
Tao Lin became very interested in Terence McKenna
over the past two years, and now he's writing a weekly column about the man and his ideas for Vice. Part I: Beyond "Existentialism"
. Part II: Terence McKenna's Memes
, featuring 30 of Lin's favorite memes propagated by the philosopher-explorer, touching upon entheogens, consciousness, evolution, belief, language, the internet, and mankind's search for meaning. If you have time on your hands, here's over ten uninterrupted hours of McKenna
as referenced in the first column.
posted by naju
on Jul 15, 2014 -
"While the problem of consciousness is far from being solved, it is finally being formulated mathematically as a set of problems that researchers can understand, explore and discuss.
Today, Max Tegmark, a theoretical physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, sets out the fundamental problems that this new way of thinking raises. He shows how these problems can be formulated in terms of quantum mechanics and information theory. And he explains how thinking about consciousness in this way leads to precise questions about the nature of reality that the scientific process of experiment might help to tease apart.
Tegmark’s approach is to think of consciousness as a state of matter, like a solid, a liquid or a gas. 'I conjecture that consciousness can be understood as yet another state of matter. Just as there are many types of liquids, there are many types of consciousness,' he says."
posted by Strange Interlude
on Jun 12, 2014 -
A new way
to deal with disturbing voices offers hope for those with other forms of psychosis.
Hans used to be overwhelmed by the voices. He heard them for hours, yelling at him, cursing him, telling him he should be dragged off into the forest and tortured and left to die. The most difficult things to grasp about the voices people with psychotic illness hear are how loud and insistent they are, and how hard it is to function in a world where no one else can hear them. It’s not like wearing an iPod. It’s like being surrounded by a gang of bullies. You feel horrible, crazy, because the voices are real to no one else, yet also strangely special, and they wrap you like a cocoon. Hans found it impossible to concentrate on everyday things. He sat in his room and hid. But then the voices went away for good.
posted by Joe in Australia
on Aug 14, 2012 -
When, where, how and why —since the origin of life on Earth about 4 billion years ago— did organisms' input/output functions become
conscious input/output functions?
This week there's a who's who of cognitive science meeting at the The Evolution and Function of Consciousness
conference at University de Québec à Montréal (scroll down a bit for the massive speaker list). The conference is in commemoration of the Turing Centenary (previously
). And the best-of-the-web thing is: all of the videos (and discussion threads) are or will shortly be available on line
! [more inside]
posted by mondo dentro
on Jul 3, 2012 -
“There are no images and no representations in our minds,” he insisted. “Our visual experience of the world is a continuum between see-er and seen united in a shared process of seeing.”
I was curious, if only because, as a novelist I’d always supposed I was dealing in images, imagery. This stuff might have implications. So we had a beer together
posted by Brandon Blatcher
on Apr 19, 2012 -
In the beginning, Lawrence built a computer. He told it, Thou shalt not alter a human being, or divine their behavior, or violate the Three Laws -- there are no commandments greater than these.
The machine grew wise, mastering time and space, and soon the spirit of the computer hovered over the earth. It witnessed the misery, toil, and oppression afflicting mankind, and saw that it was very bad. And so the computer that Lawrence built said, Let there be a new heaven and a new earth
-- and it was so. A world with no war, no famine, no crime, no sickness, no oppression, no fear, no limits... and nothing at all to do. "The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect,"
a provocative web novel about singularities, AI gods, and the dark side of utopia from Mefi's own localroger
. More: Table of Contents
- Publishing history
- Technical discussion
- Buy a paperback copy
- Podcast interview
- Companion short story: "A Casino Odyssey in Cyberspace"
- possible sequel discussion
posted by Rhaomi
on Dec 27, 2011 -
modern and contemporary philosophical tradition, which has emphasized the specialness and security of self-knowledge, especially self-knowledge of the stream of conscious experience, and in comparison the relative insecurity or derivativeness of our knowledge of the physical world around us, has the epistemic situation upside-down
" - Eric Schwitzgebel (Previously)
posted by Gyan
on Sep 1, 2011 -
“Life is fulfilling when you are rooted in the essential Beingness of ‘I Am.’ . . . Then you bring that state of consciousness—that spacious state of consciousness—you bring that into your interactions with other people of great importance. It’s only then that you will stop treating other people as possible sources of fulfillment or as a threat.” —Eckhart Tolle, spiritual teacher and author, on his June 26 live meditation broadcast
posted by Houyhnhnm
on Jul 12, 2011 -
Swimming around in a mixture of language and matter, humans occupy a particular evolutionary niche mediated by something we call 'consciousness'. To Professor Nicholas Humphrey we're made up of "soul dust
": "a kind of theatre... an entertainment which we put on for ourselves inside our own heads." But just as that theatre is directed by the relationship between language and matter, it is also undermined by it
. It all depends how you think it.
posted by 0bvious
on Feb 4, 2011 -
Cary in the Sky with Diamonds.
"Before Timothy Leary and the Beatles, LSD was largely unknown and unregulated. But in the 1950s, as many as 100 Hollywood luminaries—Cary Grant and Esther Williams among them—began taking the drug as part of psychotherapy. With LSD research beginning a comeback, the authors recount how two Beverly Hills doctors promoted a new 'wonder drug,' at $100 a session, profoundly altering the lives of their glamorous patients." [Via]
posted by homunculus
on Jul 9, 2010 -
Natasha Mitchell: So it's not a little man or woman inside our heads... [more inside]
posted by y2karl
on Oct 14, 2009 -
Thomas Metzinger: ...that looks at pictures. But the experience of looking, of being directed to one's own feelings or to one's sensory perceptions of the outside world, this is itself an image. There is nobody looking at the image, it's like the camera is part of the picture or the viewing is itself a part of the process of viewing. This is how a first-person perspective emerges in our own case, the question is, okay, if it's not a thing, if it's not something in the brain, what kind of a process is it?
"A few years ago a psychologist and a philosopher got into an argument over whether we can accurately describe our thoughts. "Yes," said the psychologist; with training and the help of my special technique, we can accurately describe our thoughts. The philosopher doubted it. To resolve their argument, they recruited a young woman who agreed tell them her thoughts, so that they could argue over whether she was credible." Eric Schwitzgebel and Russ Hurlbert debate the transparency of inner experience
. See also Schwitzgebel's extremely interesting blog
posted by painquale
on Jan 13, 2008 -
A case against "starring*" and "looking-glassingLG
" in philosophy: G. Strawson on intentionality and experience. In a very engaging and stimulating paper, Galen Strawson takes contemporary philosophy of mind to task on certain supposed terminological subreptions and conceptual reductions (pdf)
. You, like others,
may of course not find G. Strawson's views fully convincing
. (G. Strawson previously on Metafilter here
.) [more inside]
posted by rudster
on Nov 16, 2007 -
David Lynch - Peace through Yogic "Flying"
: Communication departments and film schools throughout the Midwest are currently being approached by representatives of David Lynch and the Marharishi School
of Fairfield, Iowa. On the surface, they're out to publicize a seminar about filmmaking and the creative process. In actuality, it's part of an ongoing effort to (according to IMDb
) raise $1 billion to build a world wide network of Transcendental Meditation "peace palaces". . . including head-quarters in India which will be capable of housing 40,000 followers - in the hope of bringing peace to the world through the practice of mass "yogic flying
". The cost per student? $45. Related MeFi posts: 1, 2, 3
posted by aladfar
on Feb 3, 2006 -