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Ben the Neuroscientist

  • 1. What would an explanation of consciousness look like? Would Ben’s discovery of Ben’s complex and how it relates to consciousness constitute a causally valid explanation for consciousness? Are the criteria he follows adequate? If not, is there something missing?
  • 2. Would it be possible to prove to Ben that consciousness is no mystery? How might someone try to do that? What are some of the things that person might say to Ben?
  • 3. Newton formulated the law of gravity but nevertheless felt that gravity was mysterious. It is unclear that he would change his mind with knowledge of the latest physics. The problem for Newton seems to be that natural law is insufficient for explaining gravity. He needs something more. Ben also wants something more than the lawlike explanation he has. What might it be that Newton and Ben are after? Do their mysteries depend on misunderstandings of scientific explanation?

Consciousness and Blindsight

  • 1. Is there an evolutionary advantage to consciousness? How might someone argue there isn’t? How would you argue for an advantage?
  • 2. In what sense is blindsight seeing? Suppose someone claimed it isn’t a matter of seeing, because blindsighters are unaware of seeing anything. Is this a valid claim, and why, or why not? How might one argue against it?
  • 3. Should we say that a blindsighter is right in claiming not to have seen visual stimuli in an experiment even if the blindsighter behaved as if he or she was seeing it? How might someone argue that we shouldn’t say so and that the whole phenomenon of blindsight doesn’t exist? What reasons might such a person give? Would they be good reasons?
  • 4. How should we think about blindsight, blind smell, and other blind versions of perception? Are they really forms of perception? Does it make sense to speak of deep unconscious perception we cannot ever become aware of?
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