The scientific study of consciousness used to be taboo just a few decades ago, but it is now in its heyday. Consciousness research captures the imagination of laypeople, attracts research funding, and sells books. Amongst neuroscientists, the dominant position is this: whatever consciousness is, it must somehow emerge somewhere in the brain. Where else could it be? The challenge then is to find out how subjective experience springs from neural activity. But does it? By what kind of modern alchemy is the water of the matter supposed to be transformed into the wine of experience? We are never told. Instead, materialism excels at selling old metaphysical commitments as new scientific data. In addition, materialism is promissory by necessity: the grand resolution is at hand but always lies ahead – the best is yet to come. Moreover, and despite the impressive tools available, such a conception of the physical world dates back to the nineteenth century – ironically, physicalism is embraced by virtually everyone except physicists themselves. In sum, the blind spot of the neuroscience of consciousness is paradoxical: a mind studies other brains and declares itself illusory, epiphenomenal, or emergent at best. Here, rather than trying to answer how “matter makes mind”, Alex Gomez-Marin questions whether it does, and what this entails for science writ large. He argues that the science of consciousness is at a sweet crossroads: either we continue doing science as usual with ever fancier tools and bigger data or we seize the opportunity to craft a new idea of science.
On Saturday November 6, Alex will open our monthly Community Call with a presentation and followed by discussion and Q&A.
THIS EVENT IS FREE AND OPEN TO EVERYONE!
Join our Zoom meeting via the following link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89671398135
If you would like to participate, have any questions or need any help just contact Eleanor Peat: firstname.lastname@example.org
Alex Gomez-Marin is a theoretical physicist turned cognitive neuroscientist. He was awarded his PhD in physics in 2008 by the University of Barcelona. He also holds a Masters in Biophysics from the same university. He was a postdoctoral researcher at the EMBL-CRG Centre forGenomic Regulation and at the Champalimaud Center for the Unknown, where he studied worms, flies and mice. Since 2016 he has been the head of the Behavior of Organisms Laboratory at the Instituto de Neurociencias (CSIC-UMH) in Alicante, Spain. The mission of his group is to establish neuro-ethological principles across species. His latest research concentrates on machines and humans in real-world situations, combining computational techniques with theoretical biology and continental philosophy. You can follow him at @behaviOrganisms and read his work here: https://behavior-of-organisms.org/read-us