The Multiverse for Breakfast

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I’m really looking forward to my first in person philosophy talk since the start of Covid, which will take place at the ‘How the Light Gets In‘ festival’ Sunday 19th March. It’s a festival of philosophy and music, which is going to be held in the glorious grounds of Kenwood House on Hampstead Heath in London. I’m going to talk about the science of consciousness, and how the supposedly ‘easy problem’ of establishing neural correlates of consciousness is actually harder that the ‘hard problem’. I’ll also outline a couple of ways forward.

I used to sing in a band in my teens and 20s, performing ‘guitar explorations of the human condition’. But then everyone had babies and we haven’t played for ages. Because this festival does music as well as philosophy, I tried my luck and asked if my band could play. To my surprise, they said yes! So we’re hurriedly trying to remember the songs…worried I’m too old for this caper…

I’m also doing a few other events on the Sunday: breakfast chatting about fine-tuning and the multiverse, a neuroscience and consciousness school with Joanna Bryson, and a panel on the small topic of ‘Life, the Universe and Everything’. I’ve listed all the events I’m doing below.

Most of all, I’m really looking forward to chatting about philosophy in person again…come along if you can!

https://howthelightgetsin.org/festivals/september

Saturday 18th

– 6:30pm: ‘Number and Number’ (my band) will perform in the ‘Stage’ venue

Sunday 19th

– 9am: Philosophy Breakfast on Cosmological fine-Tuning and the Multiverse

– 12pm: IAI School with Joanna Bryson – Neuroscience and Consciousness

– 2pm: Solo talk – The Many Voices of Consciousness

– 5.30pm: Life, The Universe and Everything panel

Tickets available here: https://howthelightgetsin.org/festivals/september

The Author

I am a philosopher and consciousness researcher at Durham University, UK. My research focuses on how to integrate consciousness into our scientific worldview.

3 Comments

  1. John MacKinnon says

    Here’s a slightly different take on all this.

    1) the ‘problem’ of consciousness is not a scientific problem – it can never be solved by normal scientific methods.
    2) what you might describe as naive folk beliefs hold the key to understanding consciousness. There is a huge reservoir of such belief to draw on. These beliefs and experiences are not in any way provable and/or repeatable in the way that the scientific method demands – as is the mind/consciousness.
    So,
    a) it has to be realised that previous cultures were made up of people who were equally as intelligent as we are, and,
    b) a large proportion of these peoples beliefs on consciousness are congruent, even where they had no cultural exchanges.
    c) these beliefs/experiences include e.g. that of a (modern day) woman who for a few moments experienced seeing herself from a viewpoint some distance above her body, walking along and conversing normally, while her ‘consciousness’ was in the viewpoint above*, to that of the Egyptian belief that we have three(?) different ‘ethereal’ bodies – similar schemes have been put forward by modern ‘spiritual’ seekers, to the NDE experiences which have been extensively documented recently.
    d) all this is of course anathema to current scientific and philosophical norms, so I won’t be surprised if you dismiss this as nonsense, but it seems clear to me that this wealth of accumulated knowledge should not be so lightly dismissed, more especially as currently there is a very strong rationalist bias to this sort of enquiry.

    *I’m sorry, but I’ve forgotten my source for this. You could probably find it if this is of any interest to you.

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