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The Hard Problem of Consciousness: A Contemporary Philosophical Debate

November 21 @ 8:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Green College Resident Members’ Series

Davide Andrea Zappulli, Philosophy
Coach House, Green College, UBC
Monday, November 21, 8-9 pm

The tiredness that you feel after a day of hard work, the bitterness of a cup of coffee, and the warmth of a nice conversation with your best friend: these are all conscious, experiential phenomena. It seems the most indubitable of all facts that we have these experiences: there is something that it is like to be me, you and anyone else. But why is that? Neuroscientists have been able to show a very strong correspondence between brain states and felt experiences, but can we really explain these experiences in terms of brain processes? Probably not, for it seems that we could know everything about how the brain of a bat works, and still we wouldn’t know what it is like to perceive the world with sonar. In fact, even if we came to know everything about the human brain, each of us still wouldn’t know with absolute certainty that other people are conscious, and that seems to show that we can’t fully explain consciousness by appealing to this very interesting physical object that is our brain. Generalizing, we could say that there is some kind of gap between the physical and the mental: the problem of understanding the nature of this gap is the so-called “hard problem of consciousness.” In this talk, Davide Andrea Zappulli will present some of the main philosophical theories that have been proposed to address the problem, such as dualism, illusionism and panpsychism.

Davide Andrea Zappulli is a second-year PhD student in Philosophy at the University of British Columbia. Among other things, he works on developing metaphysical frameworks to address the problem of consciousness and on cross-cultural philosophy of religion. You can find more about his research on davidezappulli.com.

More info: www.greencollege.ubc.ca