Skip main navigation

Broader debates around consciousness

The notion of consciousness is one that has perplexed scientists and philosophers alike. Mark Solms recommends this article by Oliver Burkman.
A close-up shot of an art installation by Pippa Skotnes - a black white disk with sketches in the back ground
© University of Cape Town CC-BY-NC

The problem of consciousness is one that has perplexed scientists and philosophers alike. Oliver Burkeman’s article published in The Guardian, Why can’t the world’s greatest minds solve the mystery of consciousness? introduces some of the issues being debated around what is known as the ‘Hard Problem’.

In my new book, The Hidden Spring, I set out ideas which shed new light on the ‘Hard Problem of Consciousness’. In this account of consciousness, I tell a story of the elementary physics of life, the most recent advances in both computational and affective neuroscience, and the subtleties of subjective experience that were traditionally explored by psychoanalysis. A presentation I recently gave to the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Northern Ireland gives an overview of my main ideas and arguments, and it can be accessed here. Debates are ongoing. In fact, I will be engaging in a formal debate on the Harm Problem with another Neuroscientist, Anil Seth, later this year, which will be hosted by the Neuropsychoanalysis Association.

We have already touched on some of this story over the last few weeks. My particular focus in this course though will be with discussing how consciousness – the feeling of being something – is a necessary criterion for determining whether something has a mind.

© University of Cape Town CC-BY-NC
This article is from the free online

What is a Mind?

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now