Sean Carroll's Mindscape: Science, Society, Philosophy, Culture, Arts, and Ideas
Spela

25 | David Chalmers on Consciousness, the Hard Problem, and Living in a Simulation

Sean Carroll's Mindscape: Science, Society, Philosophy, Culture, Arts, and Ideas

00:00

25 | David Chalmers on Consciousness, the Hard Problem, and Living in a Simulation

Sean Carroll's Mindscape: Science, Society, Philosophy, Culture, Arts, and Ideas

Ever wanted to know how music affects your brain, what quantum mechanics really is, or how black holes work? Do you wonder why you get emotional each time you see a certain movie, or how on earth video games are designed? Then you’ve come to the right place. Each week, Sean Carroll will host conversations with some of the most interesting thinkers in the world. From neuroscientists and engineers to authors and television producers, Sean and his guests talk about the biggest ideas in science, philosophy, culture and much more.

Sean Carroll's Mindscape: Science, Society, Philosophy, Culture, Arts, and Ideas

The "Easy Problems" of consciousness have to do with how the brain takes in information, thinks about it, and turns it into action. The "Hard Problem," on the other hand, is the task of explaining our individual, subjective, first-person experiences of the world. What is it like to be me, rather than someone else? Everyone agrees that the Easy Problems are hard; some people think the Hard Problem is almost impossible, while others think it's pretty easy. Today's guest, David Chalmers, is arguably the leading philosopher of consciousness working today, and the one who coined the phrase "the Hard Problem," as well as proposing the philosophical zombie thought experiment. Recently he has been taking seriously the notion of panpsychism. We talk about these knotty issues (about which we deeply disagree), but also spend some time on the possibility that we live in a computer simulation. Would simulated lives be "real"? (There we agree -- yes they would.) David Chalmers got his Ph.D. from Indiana University working under Douglas Hoftstadter. He is currently University Professor of Philosophy and Neural Science at New York University and co-director of the Center for Mind, Brain, and Consciousness. He is a fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities, the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Among his books are The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory, The Character of Consciousness, and Constructing the World. He and David Bourget founded the PhilPapers project. Web site NYU Faculty page Wikipedia page PhilPapers page Amazon author page NYU Center for Mind, Brain, and Consciousness TED talk: How do you explain consciousness?

Published

Play Episode

Related episodes Sean Carroll's Mindscape: Science, Society, Philosophy, Culture, Arts, and Ideas

Sean Carroll's Mindscape: Science, Society, Philosophy, Culture, Arts, and Ideas

24 | Kip Thorne on Gravitational Waves, Time Travel, and Interstellar
(NaN)
I remember vividly hosting a colloquium speaker, about fifteen years ago, who talked about the LIGO gravitational-wave observatory, which had just started taking data. Comparing where they were to where they needed to get to in terms of sensitivity, the mumblings in the audience after the talk were clear: “They’ll never make it.” Of course we now know that they did, and the 2016 announcement of the detection of gravitational waves led to a 2017 Nobel Prize for Rainer Weiss, Kip Thorne, and Barry Barish. S...

en arts time society culture prize wormholes ideas philosophy interstellar physics waves nobel science travel gravitational ligo

Sean Carroll's Mindscape: Science, Society, Philosophy, Culture, Arts, and Ideas

23 | Lisa Aziz-Zadeh on Embodied Cognition, Mirror Neurons, and Empathy
(NaN)
Brains are important things; they're where thinking happens. Or are they? The theory of "embodied cognition" posits that it's better to think of thinking as something that takes place in the body as a whole, not just in the cells of the brain. In some sense this is trivially true; our brains interact with the rest of our bodies, taking in signals and giving back instructions. But it seems bold to situate important elements of cognition itself in the actual non-brain parts of the body. Lisa Aziz-Zadeh is a p...

en ideas neurons arts philosophy brain physics embodied society culture thinking science cognition mirror

Sean Carroll's Mindscape: Science, Society, Philosophy, Culture, Arts, and Ideas

22 | Joe Walston on Conservation, Urbanization, and the Way We Live on Earth
(NaN)
There's no question that human activity is causing enormous changes on our planet's environment, from deforestation to mass extinction to climate change. But perhaps there is a tiny cause for optimism -- or at least, the prospect of a new equilibrium, if we can manage to ameliorate our most destructive impulses. Wildlife conservationist Joe Walston argues that -- seemingly paradoxically, but not really -- increasing urbanization provides hope for biodiversity preservation and poverty alleviation moving forw...

en physics arts culture society population urbanization biodiversity science environment philosophy cities ideas

Sean Carroll's Mindscape: Science, Society, Philosophy, Culture, Arts, and Ideas

21 | Alex Rosenberg on Naturalism, History, and Theory of Mind
(NaN)
We humans love to tell ourselves stories about why things happened the way they did; if the stories are sufficiently serious, we label this activity "history." Part of getting history right is simply an accurate recounting of the facts, but part of it is generally taken to be some kind of explanation about why. How much should we trust these explanations? This is a question with philosophical implications as well as historical ones, and philosopher Alex Rosenberg's new book How History Gets Things Wrong cla...

en philosophy culture mind naturalism science history physics society ideas stories arts

Sean Carroll's Mindscape: Science, Society, Philosophy, Culture, Arts, and Ideas

20 | Scott Derrickson on Cinema, Blockbusters, Horror, and Mystery
(NaN)
Special Halloween edition? Scott Derrickson is a film-lover first and a director second, but he's been quite successful at the latter -- you may know him as the director and co-writer of Marvel's Doctor Strange. (When I was younger, Doctor Strange was one of my favorite comic characters, along with Green Lantern. At least one of them got a great movie.) Scott was gracious enough to take time from a very busy schedule to sit down for a chat about a wide number of topics. Using Doctor Strange as a template, w...

en film ideas strange physics philosophy arts movies marvel society science doctor horror cinema culture

Sean Carroll's Mindscape: Science, Society, Philosophy, Culture, Arts, and Ideas

19 | Tyler Cowen on Maximizing Growth and Thinking for the Future
(NaN)
Economics, like other sciences (social and otherwise), is about what the world does; but it's natural for economists to occasionally wander out into the question of what we should do as we live in the world. A very good example of this is a new book by economist Tyler Cowen, Stubborn Attachments. Tyler will be well-known to many listeners for his long-running blog Marginal Revolution (co-created with his colleague Alex Tabarrok) and his many books and articles. Here he offers a surprising new take on how s...

en utilitarianism ideas physics philosophy culture science growth arts economics society

Sean Carroll's Mindscape: Science, Society, Philosophy, Culture, Arts, and Ideas

18 | Clifford Johnson on What's So Great About Superstring Theory
(NaN)
String theory is a speculative and highly technical proposal for uniting the known forces of nature, including gravity, under a single quantum-mechanical framework. This doesn't seem like a recipe for creating a lightning rod of controversy, but somehow string theory has become just that. To get to the bottom of why anyone (indeed, a substantial majority of experts in the field) would think that replacing particles with little loops of string was a promising way forward for theoretical physics, I spoke with...

en ideas philosophy society string science arts physics theory gravity quantum culture

Sean Carroll's Mindscape: Science, Society, Philosophy, Culture, Arts, and Ideas

17 | Annalee Newitz on Science, Fiction, Economics, and Neurosis
(NaN)
The job of science fiction isn't to predict the future; it's to tell interesting stories in an imaginative setting, exploring the implications of different ways the world could be different from our actual one. Annalee Newitz has carved out a unique career as a writer and thinker, founding the visionary blog io9 and publishing nonfiction in a number of formats, and is now putting her imagination to work in the realm of fiction. Her recent novel, Autonomous, examines a future in which the right to work is n...

en culture fiction ai robotics technology work arts society ideas philosophy science physics

Sean Carroll's Mindscape: Science, Society, Philosophy, Culture, Arts, and Ideas

16 | Coleen Murphy on Aging, Biology, and the Future
(NaN)
Aging -- everybody does it, very few people actually do something about it. Coleen Murphy is an exception. In her laboratory at Princeton, she and her team study aging in the famous C. Elegans roundworm, with an eye to extending its lifespan as well as figuring out exactly what processes take place when we age. In this episode we contemplate what scientists have learned about aging, and the prospects for ameliorating its effects -- or curing it altogether? -- even in human beings. Coleen Murphy received her...

en aging philosophy arts culture physics society ideas science biology

Sean Carroll's Mindscape: Science, Society, Philosophy, Culture, Arts, and Ideas

15 | David Poeppel on Thought, Language, and How to Understand the Brain
(NaN)
Language comes naturally to us, but is also deeply mysterious. On the one hand, it manifests as a collection of sounds or marks on paper. On the other hand, it also conveys meaning – words and sentences refer to states of affairs in the outside world, or to much more abstract concepts. How do words and meaning come together in the brain? David Poeppel is a leading neuroscientist who works in many areas, with a focus on the relationship between language and thought. We talk about cutting-edge ideas in the sc...

en arts physics thought ideas language culture science philosophy neuroscience society brain

Sean Carroll's Mindscape: Science, Society, Philosophy, Culture, Arts, and Ideas

14 | Alta Charo on Bioethics and the Law
(NaN)
To paraphrase Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park, scientists tend to focus on whether they can do something, not whether they should. Questions of what we should do tend to wander away from the pristine beauty of science into the messy worlds of ethics and the law. But with the ongoing revolutions in biology, we can’t avoid facing up to some difficult should-questions. Alta Charo is a world expert in a gamut of these issues, working as a law professor and government official specializing in bioethics. We hit all ...

en philosophy geneediting stemcells contraception cloning society culture ideas arts abortion bioethics physics science

Sean Carroll's Mindscape: Science, Society, Philosophy, Culture, Arts, and Ideas

13 | Neha Narula on Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, and the Future of the Internet
(NaN)
For something of such obvious importance, money is kind of mysterious. It can, as Homer Simpson once memorably noted, be exchanged for goods and services. But who decides exactly how many goods/services a given unit of money can buy? And what maintains the social contract that we all agree to go along with it? Technology is changing what money is and how we use it, and Neha Narula is a leader in thinking about where money is going. One much-hyped aspect is the advent of blockchain technology, which has led ...

en cryptocurrency culture science money physics internet bitcoin philosophy arts society ideas blockchain

Sean Carroll's Mindscape: Science, Society, Philosophy, Culture, Arts, and Ideas

12 | Wynton Marsalis on Jazz, Time, and America
(NaN)
Jazz occupies a special place in the American cultural landscape. It's played in elegant concert halls and run-down bars, and can feature esoteric harmonic experimentation or good old-fashioned foot-stomping swing. Nobody embodies the scope of modern jazz better than Wynton Marsalis. As a trumpet player, bandleader, composer, educator, and ambassador for the music, he has worked tirelessly to keep jazz vibrant and alive. In this bouncy conversation, we talk about various kinds of music, how they might relat...

en society arts culture philosophy physics ideas america jazz science music

Sean Carroll's Mindscape: Science, Society, Philosophy, Culture, Arts, and Ideas

11 | Mike Brown on Killing Pluto and Replacing It with Planet 9
(NaN)
Few events in recent astronomical history have had the worldwide emotional resonance as the 2006 announcement that Pluto was no longer considered a planet, at least as far as the International Astronomical Union was concerned. The decision was a long time coming, but no person deserves more credit/blame for forcing the astronomical community's hand than Caltech astronomer Michael Brown. He and his team discovered a number of objects in the outer Solar System -- Eris, Haumea, Sedna, and others -- any of whic...

en astronomy planets science ideas arts culture pluto philosophy society physics

Sean Carroll's Mindscape: Science, Society, Philosophy, Culture, Arts, and Ideas

10 | Megan Rosenbloom on the Death Positive Movement
(NaN)
We're all going to die. But while we are alive, it's up to us how we understand and deal with that fact. In the United States especially, there is a tendency to not face up to the reality of death, and to assume that our goal should be to struggle at all costs to squeeze every last minute out of life. The Death Positive movement aims to change that, helping people to both face up to death on a personal and cultural level, and to give themselves more control over the manner of their own deaths. One of the le...

en deathpositivity ideas philosophy physics science culture society arts death

Sean Carroll's Mindscape: Science, Society, Philosophy, Culture, Arts, and Ideas

9 | Solo -- Why Is There Something Rather than Nothing?
(NaN)
It's fun to be in the exciting, chaotic, youthful days of the podcast, when anything goes and experimentation is the order of the day. So today's show is something different: a solo effort, featuring just me talking without any guests to cramp my style. This won't be the usual format, but I suspect it will happen from time to time. Feel free to chime in below on how often you think alternative formats should be part of the mix. The topic today is "Why Is There Something Rather than Nothing?", or equivalentl...

en physics existence cosmology philosophy ideas arts reality society culture science

Sean Carroll's Mindscape: Science, Society, Philosophy, Culture, Arts, and Ideas

8 | Carl Zimmer on Heredity, DNA, and Editing Genes
(NaN)
Our understanding of heredity and genetics is improving at blinding speed. It was only in the year 2000 that scientists obtained the first rough map of the human genome: 3 billion base pairs of DNA with about 20,000 functional genes. Today, you can send a bit of your DNA to companies such as 23andMe and get a report on your personal genome (ancestry, health risks) for about $200. Technologies like CRISPR are allowing scientists to edit genes, not just map them. Science writer Carl Zimmer has been following ...

en dna society culture ideas crispr philosophy heredity arts genes science physics

Sean Carroll's Mindscape: Science, Society, Philosophy, Culture, Arts, and Ideas

7 | Yascha Mounk on Threats to Liberal Democracy
(NaN)
Both words in the phrase "liberal democracy" carry meaning, and both concepts are under attack around the world. "Democracy" means that they people rule, while "liberal" (in this sense) means that the rights of individuals are protected, even if they're not part of the majority. Recent years have seen the rise of an authoritarian/populist political movement in many Western democracies, one that scapegoats minorities in the name of the true "will of the people." Yascha Mounk is someone who has been outspoken...

en arts philosophy science society authoritarianism physics populism democracy ideas culture politics

Sean Carroll's Mindscape: Science, Society, Philosophy, Culture, Arts, and Ideas

6 | Liv Boeree on Poker, Aliens, and Thinking in Probabilities
(NaN)
Poker, like life, is a game of incomplete information. To do well in such a game, we have to think in terms of probabilities, unpredictable strategies, and Bayesian inference. These are ideas that play a central role in physics and rationality as well as in poker, which makes Liv Boeree such a great person to talk about them. Liv is a professional poker player who studied physics as a university student, and maintains an active interest in science generally and astrophysics in particular. We talk about poke...

en poker rationality aliens arts society physics altruism philosophy science probability ideas culture

Sean Carroll's Mindscape: Science, Society, Philosophy, Culture, Arts, and Ideas

5 | Geoffrey West on Networks, Scaling, and the Pace of Life
(NaN)
If you scale up an animal to twice its height, keeping everything else proportionate, its volume and weight become eight times as much. Such a scaling relation was used by J.B.S. Haldane in his famous essay, "On Being the Right Size," to help explain certain features of living organisms. But scaling relations go much deeper than that, and they are often much more subtle than the volume going as the cube of the length. Geoffrey West is a particle physicist turned complexity theorist, who studies how features...

en complexsystems arts philosophy physics networks ideas science scaling society culture

Sean Carroll's Mindscape: Science, Society, Philosophy, Culture, Arts, and Ideas

4 | Anthony Pinn on Humanism, Theology, and the Black Community
(NaN)
According to atheism, God does not exist. But religions have traditionally done much more than simply proclaim God's existence: they have provided communities, promoted the arts, handed down moral guidance, and so on. Can atheism, or perhaps humanism, replicate these roles? Anthony Pinn grew up as a devout Methodist, but became a humanist when he felt that religion wasn't really helping the communities that he cared about. Today he is a professor of religion who works to bring together atheism and the black...

en physics culture philosophy atheism science arts humanism blacktheology society ideas africanamericancommunity

Sean Carroll's Mindscape: Science, Society, Philosophy, Culture, Arts, and Ideas

3 | Alice Dreger on Sexuality, Truth, and Justice
(NaN)
The human mind loves nothing more than to build mental boxes -- categories -- and put things into them, then refuse to accept it when something doesn't fit. Nowhere is this more clear than in the idea that there are men, and there are women, and that's it. Alice Dreger is an historian of science, specializing in intersexuality and the relationship between bodies and identities. She is also a successful activist, working to change the way that doctors deal with newborn children who are born intersex. We talk...

en physics philosophy science arts academia sexuality ideas society culture activism intersex

Sean Carroll's Mindscape: Science, Society, Philosophy, Culture, Arts, and Ideas

2 | Carlo Rovelli on Quantum Mechanics, Spacetime, and Reality
(NaN)
Quantum mechanics and general relativity are the two great triumphs of twentieth-century theoretical physics. Unfortunately, they don't play well together -- despite years of effort, we currently lack a completely successful quantum theory of gravity, although there are some promising ideas out there. Carlo Rovelli is a pioneer of one of those ideas, loop quantum gravity, as well as the bestselling author of such books as Seven Brief Lessons on Physics and the recent The Order of Time. We talk about how to ...

en arts society culture ideas physics quantumgravity philosophy science loopquantumgravity spacetime

Sean Carroll's Mindscape: Science, Society, Philosophy, Culture, Arts, and Ideas

1 | Carol Tavris on Mistakes, Justification, and Cognitive Dissonance
(NaN)
For the first full episode of Mindscape, it's an honor to welcome social psychologist Carol Tavris. Her book with co-author Eliot Aronson, Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me), explores the effect that cognitive dissonance has on how we think. We talk about the fascinating process by which people justify the mistakes that they make, and how that leads to everything from false memories to political polarization. [smart_track_player url="http://traffic.libsyn.com/seancarroll/carol-tavris.mp3" social_email="tru...

en science philosophy cognitivedissonance culture psychology society arts ideas physics

Sean Carroll's Mindscape: Science, Society, Philosophy, Culture, Arts, and Ideas

Welcome to the Mindscape Podcast!
(NaN)
I've decided to officially take the plunge into the world of podcasting. The new show will be called Mindscape, and will mostly consist of me talking to smart people about interesting ideas. (Occasionally it will be me talking by myself about ideas of questionable merit.) I'm a grizzled veteran at appearing on other podcasts, and it's past time I sat in the director's chair here. [smart_track_player url="http://traffic.libsyn.com/seancarroll/episode-zero-audio.mp3" artist="Sean Carroll" social_gplus="false...

en philosophy mindscape podcast culture seancarroll science arts physics society ideas