Consciousness Studies/Notes for the Contributors

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Please ensure that your proposed contribution has not been covered elsewhere in the text. (The sections on what needs to be explained and phenomenal and access consciousness should certainly be read before making a contribution). The term materialist is used frequently in the text to describe someone who believes that nineteenth century science is adequate to explain the world (Whitehead's usage), the opposite of materialism is not spiritualism etc. - both modern physicalists and dualists are opposed to old fashioned materialism.

Please ensure that references and, preferably, links to original sources are provided for each assertion. These should be added to the "references" sections for each module.

An attempt has been made to give the book the sort of structure that might be expected in a science textbook (history, the empirical problem, experimental data, theories). The book is structured as follows:

  • The problem of consciousness. What are all the problems that need to be explained when investigating consciousness? Specific theories of consciousness do not go here.
    • Description of the empirical problem.
    • The conflict. The debate about WHEN and WHERE of phenomenal consciousness and whether such a when and where could exist at all.
    • Breaking down the philosophical and scientific problems. The when and where of the world. Demonstrating that the problems of consciousness have repercussions extending into the nature of space and time itself.
    • The idea of machine consciousness. This is about the somewhat separate problem of whether machines could be conscious.
    • Consciousness and the measurement problem. Another somewhat separate problem.
  • Historical Review - placed here rather than after the introduction because it is a deeply academic review that might "put off" readers who have not had their interest kindled.
  • Contemporary explanations.
  • Other explanations. Yes, less widely known theories can go here, on separate pages or linked.

As can be seen from the structure of the book, this text is largely about the form of "consciousness" that is of interest to neuroscientists. Perhaps a second part of this book, classified under "philosophy" rather than "neuroscience" is required to explain the consequences of naive and direct realism in sociological and political theory and the consequences of idealism and dualism in religious thought.

The book is designed for undergraduate neuroscience and philosophy modules on consciousness.