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Alva Noe

  • 1. Why does Noe think neuroscientists are lost and don’t even know it? What is it about their view of consciousness he thinks is wrong?
  • 2. Why does Noe think there are no neural correlates of consciousness? What account does he offer instead?
  • 3. How are life, the mind, and consciousness related, according to Noe?
  • 4. How does Noe argue that the case of the rewired ferret cortex supports his view of consciousness? What does he think determines the character of visual experience?
  • 5. How does Noe view the possibility of a conscious brain in a vat? How does he argue against this possibility? Do you think there could be a conscious brain in a vat? Why, or why not?
  • 6. What is Noe’s view of biology? How might it be different from our common understanding? Why do you suppose he adopts this view?
  • 7. Why does Noe claim that bacteria have minds? Could you disprove this claim? Could you prove that anything—for example, a dust particle—is not conscious?
  • 8. What would it take to build a conscious robot for Noe? How important would its external behavior be? Why doesn’t Noe rule out the possibility that it could have a digital computer for a brain?

Summary Questions

  • 1. Does externalism defeat radical skepticism about consciousness? Are externalists in a better position to solve the problems of knowledge of the external world and other minds? Can the externalist prove, for example, that we are not brains in vats? Why, or why not?
  • 2. We have examined two forms of externalism in this chapter: content and vehicle externalism. Are they promising for explaining conscious experience? Why, or why not?
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