The University of Sussex

Consciousness and human identity: an interdisciplinary perspective

Margaret A. Boden

Two of the many problems regarding consciousness are how it is possible for us to have conscious experiences, or qualia, and how it is possible for each of us to have a unique self. Some people claim that we will soon be able to answer both these questions in scientific terms. I argue that we can already outline (in computational, but not neuroscientific, terms) how it is possible for us to construct a self, and that (for a tiny handful of cases) we can already give neuroscientific explanations of why we have THIS conscious experience rather than THAT one. We can expect more explanations of this kind. But explaining why we have any conscious experiences at all is quite another matter. There is no prospect of a scientific account of this while the philosophical problems remain unsolved.

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