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-  1   1 . The mystery of mind A schoolboy, on the way to becoming a writer, notes on the inside cover of his poetry anthology: 1) What is the meaning of the poem and what is the experience? 2) What thought or reflection does the experience lead us to? 3) What mood, feeling, emotion is stirred or created by the poem as a whole? (Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking 41) As readers of literature, we understand the young John Gregory Dunne’s questions to be ours, too, because they address what the work of literature creates—meaning, thought, reflection, mood, feeling, emotion—and because they prompt us to wonder how it is possible that literature creates that which consciousness creates: experience. A philosopher of mind notes about the physical nature of mental experience : If we acknowledge that a physical theory of mind must account for the subjective character of experience, we must admit that no presently available conception gives us a clue how this could be done. The problem is unique. If mental processes are indeed physical processes, then there is something it is like, intrinsically, to undergo certain physical processes. What it is for such a thing to be the case remains a mystery. (Nagel,“What is it like to be a Bat?” 447) The Integrated Mind Introduction n Introduction -  2   And as minded beings, we understand Thomas Nagel’s question to be ours, as well: how can a physical theory of mind account for the subjective character of experience? David Chalmers calls this “the hard problem of consciousness”: The hard problem . . . is the question of how physical processes in the brain give rise to subjective experience.This puzzle involves the inner aspect of thought and perception: the way things feel for the subject.When we see, for example, we experience visual sensations, such as that of vivid blue. Or think of the ineffable sound of the oboe, the agony of an intense pain, the sparkle of happiness or the meditative quality of a moment lost in thought. All are part of what I am calling consciousness. It is these phenomena that pose the real mystery of mind.1 The “easy problem of consciousness” for Chalmers is understanding the brain functions that can be measured, studied, and located organically and behaviorally through cognitive and neuroscience testing, that which defines objective consciousness: the ability to discriminate, categorize, and react to environmental stimuli; the integration of information by a cognitive system; the reportability of mental states; the ability of a system to access its own internal states; the focus of attention; the deliberate control of behavior; the difference between wakefulness and sleep (“Facing” 200). However, what the study of brain function has yet to reveal is why we have subjective consciousness, meaning how is it possible for subjectivity to arise from the physical processes of the brain? Why do we have internal lives? Beyond the processing of information, as in visual or auditory sensation, how is it possible that we have the felt-quality of seeing or hearing, the experience of feeling or thinking about our aliveness? Experience, point of view, orientation, ego, subjectivity, consciousness—these are the words that hold the idea of “mind.”This, as Chalmers puts it, is “the real mystery of mind.” Acknowledged in the neurosciences, the mystery of mind, according to the 1. David Chalmers, “The Puzzle of Conscious Experience,” 62. For his extensive discussion of this puzzle, see Chalmers’s The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory. Other recent important contributions to the literature on consciousness and the nature of mind include The Journal of Consciousness Studies; Paul Churchland’s Matter and Consciousness; Paul and Patricia Churchland’s On the Contrary: Critical Essays, 1987–1997; Francis Crick’s The Astonishing Hypothesis:The Scientific Search for the Soul; Daniel Dennett’s Brainstorms: Philosophical Essays on Mind and Psychology and Consciousness Explained; Gerald Edelman and Giulio Tononi’s A Universe of Consciousness; Richard L. Gregory’s The Oxford Companion to The Mind; Colin McGinn’s The Mysterious Flame: Conscious Minds in a Material World; Thomas Nagel’s The View from Nowhere; Steven Pinker’s How the Mind Works; David Rose’s Consciousness: Philosophical, Psychological and NeuralTheories; and Adam Zeman’s Consciousness:A User’s Guide. The Integrated Mind -  3   neurologist Antonio Damasio, is a major gap in our current understanding of how neural patterns become mental images. The presence in the brain of dynamic neural patterns (or maps) related to an object or event is...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780814270929
Related ISBN
9780814251744
MARC Record
OCLC
868220158
Pages
218
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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