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How We Build Perception from the Inside Out


Dr. Anil Seth




The cognitive neuroscientist Anil Seth talks to Aeon about consciousness as a prediction, not a perception, of ‘reality’


Are we going to be talking about conscious experience? Could you just begin by saying what you understand I conscious, it's quite hard to come up with a definition everybody agrees with scientifically, but we are all familiar with what consciousness is some sense, it's the most familiar thing to any of us. It's what we lose when we fall into a dreamless sleep, or if we have anesthesia in the operating theatre, and then it's what comes back when we regain wakefulness in the morning, or when we come out of anesthesia, consciousness is really any kind of subjective experience.

I don't think it's simply thinking or being aware of beliefs or of particular senses, any kind of experience at all counselors consciousness, I think the best definition from philosophy about this is that for a conscious organism, there is something it is like to be that organism. Whereas for you, for a table or a chair, there is nothing, it is like to be a table or a chair, let's suppose but for a person, for a monkey, for an octopus, maybe for a honeybee, there is something that is like to

be that creature.

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