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Time : a flat circle :: Consciousness : a state of matter?

"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 - 235 comments

Alexander Shulgin: Godfather of psychedelics has died (1925-2014)

Alexander Shulgin has died at 88. Infamous for TIHKAL and PIHKAL, chemistry manuals for psychonauts, the chemist pioneered psychedelic research primarily through self-experimentation. He is survived by his wife Ann.
posted by bodywithoutorgans on Jun 2, 2014 - 75 comments

The Mind Readers

Thousands remain trapped between life and death. Three scientists are working to free them.
Another story from Mosaic Science via Longreads.
Extras:
A Measure of Consciousness
Proof of Life
Near-death Experience
posted by Joe in Australia on Apr 26, 2014 - 9 comments

mais comme bonnes à penser

Animals aren’t tools for thinking. Animals are some of the basic building blocks of thought itself
When he’s teaching, my friend the writer William Fiennes sometimes asks students to write about an encounter they have had with an animal at some time in their lives. What they soon discover is that the animal is always some unspoken aspect of themselves. The rat in the compost bin. The teenage girls escaping from a predatory geography teacher who stumble on a sheep giving birth. The deer shot by two boys who’ve stolen a gun. Put an animal in a story and it is never just an animal.
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Mar 29, 2014 - 45 comments

Documentaries Galore

Over 150 documentaries available free online on science, consciousness, and several other topics. Occasional link is broken.
posted by gman on Jan 28, 2014 - 19 comments

Final Moments of Karl Brant

The Final Moments of Karl Brant. "In the near future, a neurologist and two homicide detectives use experimental brain taping technology to question a murder victim about his final moments." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Jul 31, 2013 - 33 comments

the power and beauty of mathematics

An eternity of infinities (via) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Feb 2, 2013 - 23 comments

Are you awake?

What does it mean to be conscious? The point of view of anesthesiology.
posted by Obscure Reference on Jan 5, 2013 - 42 comments

On Being Nothing

"... bitterness, instead of a form of disillusionment, is really the refusal to give up your childhood illusions of importance" - Brian Jay Stanley
posted by mrgrimm on Sep 17, 2012 - 100 comments

Living With Voices

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 - 79 comments

Cog Sci video goodness at UQAM

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 - 46 comments

Ain't no spoon or fork or knife.

“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 - 25 comments

Sacred Economics and Beyond

"It’s a very ancient idea that the universe runs by the principles of the gift...in fact the purpose for our existence, the reason why we’re here, is to give." Writer Charles Eisenstein speaks on his book Sacred Economics: Money, Gift, and Society in the Age of Transition.
posted by velvet winter on Feb 7, 2012 - 41 comments

Deus Est Machina

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 - 39 comments

Putting Des Cartes before the horse

"The 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 - 32 comments

Eckhart Tolle Live Meditation

“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 - 83 comments

Computational Theology

Author and Mefi's Own Charles Stross presents Three Arguments Against The Singularity
posted by The Whelk on Jun 24, 2011 - 188 comments

Humans, Version 3.0

Humans, Version 3.0. "The next giant leap in human evolution may not come from new fields like genetic engineering or artificial intelligence, but rather from appreciating our ancient brains." [Via] [more inside]
posted by homunculus on Feb 28, 2011 - 15 comments

The Soul Niche

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 - 17 comments

What's it like to be Peter Hacker?

"The whole endeavour of the consciousness studies community is absurd – they are in pursuit of a chimera" - Peter Hacker on philosophy
posted by Gyan on Oct 25, 2010 - 145 comments

Where am I?

If your brain and body were separated, which one would be "you?" Philosopher Daniel Dennett explores what might happen in that event. (Previously)
posted by Obscure Reference on Aug 26, 2010 - 212 comments

LSD and psychotherapy in 1958

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 - 12 comments

We Are On the Verge of a Shift to Biosphere Consciousness

Towards the empathic civilisation
The human race is in a twilight zone between a dying civilisation on life support and an emerging one trying to find its legs. Old identities are fracturing while new identities are too fragile to grasp. To understand our situation, we need to step back and ask: what constitutes a fundamental change in the nature of civilisation? The great turning points occur when new, more complex energy regimes converge with communications revolutions, fundamentally altering human consciousness in the process.
posted by kliuless on Mar 20, 2010 - 13 comments

The Purpose Of The Universe And Other Easy Questions

The Disenchanted Naturalist's Guide to Reality (see also)
posted by anotherpanacea on Feb 9, 2010 - 31 comments

You might think it's just a haircut, but lawn mowers actually decapitate your lawn

Do plants have a consciousness? Michael Pollan seemed to argue they do in The Botony of Desire (original book) and that they were inextricably involved in co-evolution with their human cultivators, affecting human development, perhaps as much as the humans who are selectively choosing traits in plants. If that’s true, that plants are conscious, is it okay to eat them?
posted by Toekneesan on Dec 22, 2009 - 99 comments

Signatures of Consciousness

12 years in the making, a good working hypothesis about the nature of conciousness. [more inside]
posted by AceRock on Dec 4, 2009 - 72 comments

Feeling 'Selfy' ? Regarding 'The Ego Tunnel: The Science of the Mind, and the Myth of the Self' by Thomas Metzinger

Natasha Mitchell: So it's not a little man or woman inside our heads...

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?
[more inside]
posted by y2karl on Oct 14, 2009 - 56 comments

Erik Davis'

Expanding Mind - "This week's guest is Dennis McKenna, ethnobotanist, expert in the pharmacology of ayahuasca and other visionary plants, and brother of legendary mushroom bard Terence McKenna." (via) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Aug 9, 2009 - 32 comments

Afterlife and the Mind

Never Say Die: Why We Can't Imagine Death. Why do we wonder where our mind goes when the body is dead? Shouldn’t it be obvious that the mind is dead, too? Examining self-consciousness and mortality.
posted by amyms on Oct 16, 2008 - 219 comments

Wilder Penfield

Wilder Penfield, Neural Cartographer.
posted by homunculus on Aug 28, 2008 - 14 comments

The Limits of fMRI

Picturing our thoughts. "We're looking for too much in brain scans." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Aug 19, 2008 - 16 comments

The Ethnosphere

"Cultures at the far edge of the world" (YT) and "The worldwide web of belief and ritual" (YT). Two TED talks by anthropologist and explorer Wade Davis (previously) on the diversity of the world's indigenous cultures and their beliefs, and the richness of the "Ethnosphere," which he describes as "the sum total of all thoughts and dreams, myths, ideas, inspirations, intuitions brought into being by the human imagination since the dawn of consciousness." [Via Mind Hacks]
posted by homunculus on Jun 21, 2008 - 12 comments

The Overview Effect

Do Our Brains Change When We Travel in Outer Space? A book of compiled accounts of astronauts and cosmonauts called The Overview Effect puts forth anecdotal evidence towards that end. The Overview Institute declares it as fact and aims to induce the change in as many people as possible. One space tourist has volunteered to be a human guinea pig in 2009.
posted by Burhanistan on Jun 2, 2008 - 27 comments

Questioning Consciousness

Questioning Consciousness. "To understand consciousness and its evolution, we need to ask the right questions." By Nicholas Humphrey, who was previously discussed here. [Via Disinformation.]
posted by homunculus on Jan 30, 2008 - 51 comments

How well do you know your own thoughts?

"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 - 34 comments

The span of a thinking being is the span of a single thought.

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 and here.) [more inside]
posted by rudster on Nov 16, 2007 - 12 comments

To Read or Not to Read

MindPapers - David Chalmers organizes, streamlines and expands his collection of papers related to mind and neuroscience.
posted by Gyan on Oct 25, 2007 - 32 comments

Philosophy and Neuroscience

The Philosophy and Neuroscience Movement (PDF). A paper by Andrew Brook and Pete Mandik on the relationship between neuroscience and philosophy. [Via MindHacks.] [more inside]
posted by homunculus on Oct 5, 2007 - 15 comments

free-willy?

According to this guy, you’re not ultimately morally responsible for choosing whether to snark or not to snark in response to this FPP. A discussion of the philosophical problems surrounding freewill from British Analytic philosopher Galen Strawson. (Oh, and while we’re at it, let’s throw in this unrelated review of Strawson’s latest work on consciousness, just for an extra splash of color.)
posted by saulgoodman on May 23, 2007 - 115 comments

In the Moment

Consciousness is a mystery, and Paul Broks thinks Nicholas Humphrey (not to mention jazz guitarist Pat Martino) may have some answers.
posted by cgc373 on Mar 30, 2007 - 25 comments

Sea squirts are totally sweet

Sea Squirt Regrows Entire Body from One Blood Vessel. Most famous as the creature that settles down and eats its own brain (though that is not exactly correct), it appears the humble sea squirt has spectacular regenerative abilities as well, thanks to regeneration niches packed with stem cells. All glory to the sea squirt!
posted by homunculus on Mar 6, 2007 - 19 comments

Science

Free Science and Video Lectures Online A nice blog collecting science videos. The most recent post on Cognitive Computing, Consciousness, Science Philosophy and Mind Video Lectures has some hum-dingers.
posted by MetaMonkey on Dec 30, 2006 - 10 comments

Do animals know more than we think?

A recent article recently came out in the Wall Street Journal, which cited new study from Stanford about animal consciousness. Elephants grieve, bees create mental maps, dolphins recognize themselves in mirrors. Snakes have more brain cells than humans, and chickens worry about the future. What are your thoughts? Does this change the way we treat animals?
posted by PetBoogaloo on Nov 3, 2006 - 86 comments

Switching off self-awareness

Researchers have found that prolonged concentration on a difficult task actually switches off a person's self awareness. Fancy experiencing this sensation for yourself? That would be an oxymoron in existence. Just lay back and let the orgasm take hold.
posted by 0bvious on Apr 20, 2006 - 31 comments

David Lynch - Peace through Yogic "Flying"

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 - 25 comments

I'm blue, da boo dee, da boo die...

Blue Gene bears Blue Brain beats Deep Blue. Dr. Henry Markram answers questions in the FAQ. Neurons are beautiful. Blue Gene/L is now the fastest supercomputer in the world. IBM Research rocks. Deep Blue beat Kasparov almost a decade ago. Feeling Blue?
posted by reflection on Jan 29, 2006 - 10 comments

The Origin of Art in Entoptic Phenomena

The Origin of Art in Entoptic Phenomena Relatively recent research suggests cave art is neither simply 'art for art's sake' nor 'hunting magic', rather a representation of entoptic phenomena associated with hallucinations during altered or trance states of consciousness. These images are common to modern and prehistoric humans all over the world, and can be readily found in contemporary art. (see also some further reading, cool entoptic Kutie Catcher, AskMe)
posted by MetaMonkey on Jan 29, 2006 - 13 comments

The concept of the Transhuman: human, the self, consciousness and their effects on the law

The first Transhuman Conference On the Law of Transhuman Persons: Whether or not you believe humans are set to evolve into gods, or AI is destined to achieve self-awareness the idea of the Transhuman is a thought provoking concept. Philosophers have debated the nature of the self, of the human for millennia. Is it time to start drafting new laws to govern all possible sentient beings on this planet? or is it all just a science of fiction? a comfortable humanist illusion?
posted by 0bvious on Dec 13, 2005 - 37 comments

This so called reality

If the universe is a hologram and the healthy human brain a valve of consciousness then where'd this mental infinity come from? Are we simply living the simulacrum? Or does Pi protect us all, forever, infinitely?
posted by 0bvious on Nov 22, 2005 - 39 comments

Consciousness

Who are YOU?
posted by Gyan on Aug 7, 2005 - 47 comments

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