Inventing the Self

What is the ontological status of consciousness?

October 28th, 2013 by Jason Scaglione · 1 Comment

In what way does it exist?

In the midst of McCarthy Jones’ ocean of acronyms it hits me again: that squirmy, Alva Noë feeling—that there’s something else going on. McCarthy Jones is upfront enough, but what does it mean that “brains do not hear voices,” but “people do”? What is the connection between the state of an SZ:AVH+ brain and the phenomenal experience of Rufus May? It’s fascinating the range of data that has been collected, and the simple steps toward understanding different parts of the brain such ventures bring. But in the thick of it all I feel like we’re losing the forest for the trees. Where are we? What were we looking for again?

Something Noë relates in that interview comes to mind, about how no amount of physical examination of a coin will reveal its value. I felt something like that; like we could spin our wheels all day, using all manner of imaging techniques, yet gain little ground understanding a conscious mind. It almost makes me think about the body as something more like a material condition among others (like say environment), which conditions the arrival of consciousness in the way elements of a climate condition the arrival of a tornado.

Kind of an aside to close: I was pretty amazed at the part McCarthy Jones relays early on, about electrostimulation of peoples’ brains to induce perception. I will enjoy puzzling over that for awhile, I’m sure. Also, can I just point out: Penfield and Perot apparently did that experiment incidentally, just because they, like, kind of had their patients’ brains open anyway.


Take that as yet unfounded IRB.

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