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The Neuroscience of Consciousness

Anil Seth | 1:49:38


Two of the three fundamental mysteries about our place in the universe have already been solved. The first was literally about our place in the universe. This is a photograph taken by Voyager One on its journey out of the solar system from a distance of about, I think 6 billion kilometres.And all of human history. In fact, all of the history of life on this planet took place on that pale blue dot. That's the famous pale blue dot photo, that's the Earth from far away. Now, this just emphasizes the point that we've learned since Copernicus, that we are not at the center of the universe, we're just a tiny speck suspended, somewhere out there, in the abyss, we're not so central.

The second mystery is about our relationship to other forms of life. And Darwin pointed out that, again, we're not so special, we're related to all other creatures. We're just some branch or some twig, that beautifully rich and delicate evolutionary trees, sharing much of the machinery of life with even the simplest of our fellow creatures.

And the third mystery is the mystery of our inner universe. That's the mystery of consciousness. Now, consciousness, for me has always been absolutely fascinating. It's the one thing that cannot be an illusion, we could be mistaken about everything else, we could be mistaken about the existence of the external world at all, what it's made of whether it's there can be mistaken, I could even be mistaken about, you know, not wanting Brexit to happen. But I could be mistaken about things that's so fundamental. But I can't be mistaken about the fact that right now I'm having a conscious experience. People might want to question that, but we'll hold questions at the end. If you disagree with that, we'll be in trouble. I mean, I think I'm glad about that, even if it's SEEP. But you'd be surprised, actually, that, that quite a number of philosophers have spent a lot of ink trying to argue that we can be mistaken about the fact that we are conscious, which I think goes down as one of the the sort of silliest sort of forms of philosophy that I've come across.

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