Graham Hancock’s ‘The War on Consciousness’: Full Article from The New Statesman

psychedelicGraham Hancock Says:

“Here’s the full text of the article Russell Brand kindly invited me to contribute to last week’s issue of the New Statesman. The article, entitled The War on Consciousness, had to be shortened to fit the space available in the magazine, but I reproduce the complete unedited text here.”

Consciousness is one of the great mysteries of science – perhaps the greatest mystery. We all know we have it, when we think, when we dream, when we savour tastes and aromas, when we hear a great symphony, when we fall in love, and it is surely the most intimate, the most sapient, the most personal part of ourselves. Yet no one can really claim to have understood and explained it completely. There’s no doubt it’s associated with the brain in some way but the nature of that association is far from clear. In particular how do these three pounds of material stuff inside our skulls allow us to have experiences?

Professor David Chalmers of the Australian National University has dubbed this the “hard problem” of consciousness; but many scientists, particularly those (still in the majority) who are philosophically inclined to believe that all phenomena can be reduced to material interactions, deny that any problem exists. To them it seems self-evident that physical processes within the stuff of the brain produce consciousness rather in the way that a generator produces electricity – i.e. consciousness is an “epiphenomenon” of brain activity. And they see it as equally obvious that there cannot be such things as conscious survival of death or out-of-body experiences since both consciousness and experience are confined to the brain and must die when the brain dies.

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4 Comments on "Graham Hancock’s ‘The War on Consciousness’: Full Article from The New Statesman"

  1. mannyfurious | Nov 1, 2013 at 12:15 pm |

    The problem is that scientists have difficulty even understanding what the “hard problem” is. They don’t understand the concept of “qualia” and so you can’t even have a conversation with them about it. Trust me, I’ve tried and tried and tried and tried.

    The thing is I’m open-minded either way. Maybe so-called qualia is an illusion created simply by the combination of the elements of consciousness that can be explained by basic physiological processes in the brain (i.e. hearing, taste, sight, sound, touch combine somehow to create an illusion of “experience”, or, even as Jaynes put it, that “experience” is simply a product of language) but I can’t have an actual conversation with a scientist about it because they don’t ever seem to understand what I’m saying. They don’t get that I’m not arguing that certain processes in the brain account for things like our basic senses, but that I don’t feel any of the science I’ve read adequately accounts for the sense of experience we all have. Eagleman kind of goes into this when he discusses why it’s so difficult to create a robot that can navigate a room as well as a human can, but even he seems to have difficulty fully understanding what he’s getting at.

    • Science , to me, can largely be viewed as descriptive rather than explanatory. As far as I am concerned I have not seen a decent scientific explanation for why my thoughts can animate matter ( ie my nose itches and i raise my hand to scratch it). What I get when I talk to materialist scientists about this is a long winded mechanical description of the process. But they cannot trace the origin of the thought “my nose itches’ or why the fact that there is a thought means i can then raise my arm to scratch. They can tell me how but not why. And that’s pretty basic. It does not seem to me like science can explain much at all. And why is there or should there be a “drive to survive” anyway?

  2. Chaos_Dynamics | Nov 1, 2013 at 2:08 pm |

    Consciousness cannot comport Capitalism.

  3. Alan Morse Davies | Nov 18, 2013 at 3:49 pm |

    Whenever I read the words of Graham Hancock when high on hash, I smell flowers but not the real ones, closer to air freshener. This is not a joke, I smell fake flowers.

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