Political Perspectives on 04/07/09

Air date: 
Tue, 04/07/2009 - 9:00am - 9:30am

Host Per Fagereng speaks with Alva Noë about the brain and consciousness. Noë’s controversial new neuroscience book Out of Our Heads: Why You Are Not Your Brain and Other Lessons from the Biology of Consciousness, which argues that consciousness does not arise in the brain, has received glowing praise from the likes of Oliver Sacks, Daniel Dennett,and Hilary Putnam

Our culture is obsessed with the brain—and today neuroscientists and cognitive scientists widely agree that the human self is essentially a brain in a vat on a fleshy life support system. That our personalities and our ability to think and have a first person perspective can be explained entirely by chemical reactions within the brain. But after decades of research, scientists are still clueless as to how the brain gives rise to consciousness. Noë argues that the reason for this is staring us in the face: consciousness doesn’t arise in the brain. Consciousness is not a bodily process like digestion, but rather an activity in which the brain is involved. We are not our brains. And neuroscience and cognitive science will continue to stall on the problem of consciousness until this is examined. Alva Noë is a cognitive scientist and professor of philosophy of UC Berkeley.



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