Thursday, September 30, 2021

Consciousness from life’s push against entropy

By Mathew Goldstein

Anil Seth is Professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience at the University of Sussex. He was recently interviewed by Quanta Magazine. The interview has a link to his very good TED talk regarding what consciousness is about which has been viewed over 12 million times. The interview and the TED talk overlap, but to understand his argument it is better to consume both. The TED talk demonstrates that what we believe impacts what we perceive (and vice versa), with perception described as a useful “controlled hallucination”. He argues that consciousness arises from within life’s essential property of self-regulation in opposition to entropy and that as we identify the set of properties and mechanisms that underlie consciousness the “hard problem” of consciousness will dissolve much like the “hard problem” of life dissolved as the set of properties and mechanisms that underlie life were identified. 

A short, interesting article by him was published on August 2020 by the Institute of Ideas and Arts “Catching sight of your self”. He argues that our sense of self, our sense of free-will, etc. are perceptions like our perception of color. They are all “forms of experience” that “represent really-existing things or processes in ways that are useful to the organism.” He has a web site and a blog