Discussing the Mystery of Consciousness

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What is consciousness? How can we use language to define it? Is there a way to measure it scientifically? Is it something only humans have, or do animals and plants have consciousness too? Does it require awareness of the self? What does it mean to have consciousness?

These questions inspired “The Mystery of Consciousness,” a recent discussion between neuroscientist Antonio Damasio, M.D., Ph.D., and philosopher David Chalmers, Ph.D., at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan. The conversation was the first public event hosted by the newly formed Institute for Cross-Disciplinary Engagement (ICE) at Dartmouth University, an organization that seeks to create dialogue between the sciences and humanities.

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NYAS Event: Human Consciousness

What do you get when a neuroscientist, a psychologist, an expert in primate cognition, and a philosopher come together to talk about consciousness? A lot of questions. Can we truly ever reach an acceptable definition of consciousness? Is consciousness purely subjective? Is consciousness solely a human trait? Can neuroscience alone explain consciousness? Can a robot be conscious? Every topic relevant to consciousness, except maybe The Matrix movies, was discussed last night at the New York Academy of Sciences lecture, “The Thinking Ape: The Enigma of Human Consciousness.”

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