An Ontological Block to Understanding Consciousness

by Steve Minett

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Consciousness is experientially “obvious” to all of us for all of our waking lives. Why then does our modern scientific and philosophical culture generally dismiss and deny it? My answer to this question is: the ontological hegemony of “Car–Ton World”. In other words, I’m addressing the problem of consciousness at the ontological level. (Ontology refers to the ultimate nature of reality in itself, as rationally constructible and independent of—though preferably compatible with—empirical observations.) Car–Ton World is my abbreviation for the Cartesian–Newtonian world view. Rene Descartes split actuality into two realms: mental and physical. The mental realm included God and the divine human soul. His physical realm reflected the mechanistic materialism and determinism of emerging modern science. Its chief spokesperson was Isaac Newton. During the nineteenth century, the decline of belief in the mental and/or spiritual half of Cartesian dualism left only the materialist, determinist half of Cartesianism—the half populated exclusively by the “hard, massy billiard balls” of Newton’s conception of matter. In this Car–Ton World there was no place for mind and consciousness, unless they could be reduced to by-products of these passive atoms and the predictable forces acting on them.

I’m currently completing a book that argues that Car–Ton World’s dismissal of consciousness is not, ultimately, based on the results of rigorous scientific experimentation. Rather, it comes from unproven (and unprovable) metaphysical speculations. Given this premise, it follows that if the ontology of Car–Ton World can be challenged—especially by scientific advance—and demonstrated to be flawed, then Car–Ton World’s rejection of consciousness must also be questioned. This is precisely the strategy of this paper. Although Car–Ton World remains the mainstream, and to a large extent the dominant, ontological position in scientific consciousness studies, it has been under serious challenge over the last few decades. In this paper I’ll critique a specific aspect of Car–Ton World’s ontology, which I’ve dubbed “infomania”, referencing its overriding emphasis on information-processing. What’s missing from the infomaniac approach is any recognition that analogue, energetic processes might play a significant role in generating mind and consciousness. Such an idea is dismissed as a primitive “folk psychology” position. I, however, want to argue the opposite case: that the Achilles’ heel of Car–Ton ontology is its denial of a role for energetic processes (which, I believe, will ultimately be found to be based on quantum processes). This denial impoverishes our conceptions of mind and consciousness and contributes hugely to the enormous disparity between ordinary human experience and the Car–Ton account. In my book I shall challenge the hegemony of Car–Ton by positing an alternative ontology based on a number of interpretations of quantum physics and the ontology developed by Alfred North Whitehead in Process and Reality (1929).

Daniel Dennett (1991) and Steven Pinker (1999) are leading spokespersons for infomania. Let’s first take a quick look at the cognitive computationalist, information-only position that Dennett and Pinker are defending. Cognitivism is a theoretical framework for understanding the mind that gained credence in the 1950s. It was a response to behaviorism, which cognitivists said neglected to explain cognition, defined as how people perceive, think, remember, learn, solve problems, and direct their attention to one stimulus rather than another. Behaviorists acknowledged the existence of thinking, but identified it as a behavior. Cognitivists argued that the way people think impacts their behavior and therefore cannot be a behavior in and of itself. Methodologically, cognitivism adopts a positivist approach, claiming that psychology can, in principle, be fully explained through experiment, measurement, and the scientific method. Cognitivism is also largely reductionist, believing that individual components of mental function (the cognitive architecture) can be identified and meaningfully understood. The theoretical component claims that cognition consists of discrete, internal mental states (representations or symbols) whose manipulation can be described in terms of rules or algorithms. Cognitivism is not a wholesale refutation of behaviorism, but rather an expansion that accepts that mental states exist. This was due to the increasing criticism, toward the end of the 1950s, of behaviorism’s simplistic learning models. Cognitivists typically presuppose that the human mind or the human brain (or both) is entirely based on information processing, and that thinking is simply a form of computing. In other words, the brain is a “bio-computer”, and the mind is generated by the programs it runs.

Dennett’s Unconvincing Examples:
(1) Black-and-White Mary

My first example of a flawed Car–Ton-ist argument is Dennett’s response to Frank Jackson’s famous (1982) thought experiment addressing the problem of color qualia. This runs as follows: Mary is a brilliant scientist who is forced to investigate the world from a black-and-white room via a black-and-white television monitor. She specializes in the neurophysiology of color vision and acquires all the physical information that can possibly be obtained about what goes on when we see colors. What will happen when Mary is released from her black-and-white room? Will she learn anything new or not? Dennett (1991) says no, she won’t learn anything new. He stresses the experiment’s premise that she has all the physical information. This is difficult to imagine, so people assume either that she knows lots and lots, or that she knows everything that science today knows, which is actually almost nothing. If this were all she knew, then yes, maybe Mary would learn something on first seeing color. However, if she knows everything, then she knows beforehand exactly what physical impression any color would make on her nervous system. Dennett insists that it’s Mary’s perfect knowledge of the neurophysiology of color vision that guarantees her lack of surprise. This is what trips people up: “In any any realistic, readily imaginable version she might know a lot, but she would not know everything physical” (Dennett, 1991, p. 400). Dennett illustrates this point via the metaphor of imagining that Mary is “filthy rich” versus the hypothesis that she owns everything.
The spurious sense of “obviousness”, which denies this and claims that she must learn something new, is (says Dennett) a great obstacle to progress in understanding consciousness: “It is the most natural thing in the world to think of consciousness as occurring in some sort of Cartesian Theatre, and to suppose that there is nothing really wrong with thinking this way” (Dennett, 1991, p. 434). But, he claims, this obviousness disappears if you look carefully and in detail at the brain’s actual activities, and try to imagine an alternative to this simplistic model of consciousness. Dennett invokes the metaphor of a stage magician performing a conjuring trick where “once we take a serious look backstage, we discover that we didn’t actually see what we thought we saw onstage” (p. 434). These insights can shrink the huge gap between phenomenology and physiology, and we can see that some “obvious” features of phenomenology are not real at all:

There is no filling in with figment; there are no intrinsic qualia; there is no central fount of meaning and action; there is no magic place where the understanding happens. In fact, there is no Cartesian Theatre. . . . The most mind-boggling special effects just don’t exist at all, and hence require no explanation. (p. 434)

It seems to me (and I suspect most other people, including the eighteenth-century philosopher David Hume) that Dennett is making (perhaps willfully) a fundamental mistake about certain obvious facts of human experience—namely, the difference between knowing something intellectually and having an immediate, personal experience of it. I’m going to claim, along with Hume, that no matter how much information you have (even if you have all the information that it is possible to have), there’s an insurmountable difference between knowing something intellectually (i.e., based on information about it) and feeling something by direct experience of it. I feel that Dennett is able to be disingenuous in his analysis of Mary’s story precisely because our knowledge about color and our qualic experience of color are hard to disentangle and so are easily confused. But what if we choose to reconsider this thought experiment having substituted the experience of extreme pain instead of the experience of seeing colors?

Severe Pain Instead of Color

So, let’s rewrite the Mary thought-experiment, though this time substituting for the calm, neutral experience of seeing color, the extreme experience of receiving a severe electric shock. We could imagine her as a medical student researching every aspect of pain reactions from a neurophysiological point of view. She might finally understand, in exquisite detail, all the neural processes that a normal human being would experience while receiving a severe electric shock. (As with the color experiment, let’s just assume that it’s possible to acquire complete knowledge of this sort.) But would this knowledge enable her to feel the same pain as the person who is actually receiving the shock? In other words, would any amount of intellectual knowledge of these processes make Mary howl in pain? So what can we learn about Car–Ton-ist cognitivism from Dennett’s response to this thought experiment? The principal lesson is that Dennett does not make a distinction between knowledge (or information) and experience (or feeling): all operations in the brain and all products of those operations, are conducted in, or take the form of, information processing.

In cognitivism, the term information processing means the manipulation of physical symbols in the brain by means of algorithmic rules, resulting in the deduction of logical inferences. That’s why, according to cognitivism, Mary learns nothing new about color—she’s already processed all the information and made all the right inferences. This cognitivist way of seeing brain function is closely linked to the idea that the brain is very similar to, and amounts to nothing more than, a computer. We can now revisit the Mary thought experiment, with the focus this time on pain as the qualic experience: by pre-experience Mary would have all the propositional information that there is as to how an electric shock affects the human nervous system; but until she is wired up and the power is turned on, she wouldn’t have had the experience of what such a shock feels like in analogue, energetic terms. Consequently, she would learn something new from actually experiencing the shock. Incidentally, Dennett (cited in Minsky, 2006, p. 67) has also denied the reality of pain:

If you can make yourself study your pains (even quite intense pains) you will find, as it were, no room left to mind them: (they stop hurting). However, studying a pain (e.g., a headache) gets boring pretty fast, and as soon as you stop studying them, they come back and hurt, which, oddly enough, is sometimes less boring than being bored by them and so, to some degree, preferable.

I, along with most people who have actually experienced a severe electric shock, would profoundly disagree with these claims.

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Dennett’s Unconvincing Examples:
(2) Snake-Aversion

In a second pro Car–Ton-ist example, Dennett suggests two different explanations for what most of us feel when we see a snake. The first is this: “Snakes evoke in us a particular intrinsic snake-yuckiness quale when we look at them, and our uneasiness is a reaction to that quale” (Dennett, 1978, cited in Minsky, 2006, p. 385). This is his qualic explanation; in other words, the qualia produced by snakes cause us to recoil from them. Dennett’s second, functional, explanation runs as follows: “We find ourselves less than eager to see snakes because of innate biases built into our nervous systems. These favor the release of adrenaline [and] bring fight-or-flight routines on line” (p. 385). So, here our snake-aversion is the result of innate evolutionary reactions; the associated qualia are mere by-products, or epiphenomena. According to Dennett the first, qualic explanation is really no explanation at all: he argues against the idea that an intrinsic property (such as snake-yuckiness, pain, or the aroma of coffee) can explain a subject’s reactions, and dismisses the notion as hopeless. He calls such explanations tautologies, comparing them with the relationship between conception and pregnancy to illustrate his point:

Conception is, by definition we might say, the cause of pregnancy. If we had no other way of identifying conception, telling someone she got pregnant because she conceived would be an empty gesture, not an explanation. But once we’ve figured out the requisite mechanical theory of conception, we can see how conception is the cause of pregnancy, and informativeness is restored. In the same spirit, we might identify qualia, by definition, as the proximal causes of our enjoyment and suffering (roughly put), and then proceed to discharge our obligations to inform by pursuing the second style of explanation. (Dennett, 1978, cited in Minsky, 2006, p. 386)

But, Dennett laments, “qualophiles” (which is what he calls those who believe in qualia) dismiss such explanations. They insist “that qualia ‘reduced’ to mere complexes of mechanically accomplished dispositions to react are not the qualia they are talking about. Their qualia are something different” (p. 386).

Consequently, according to Dennett, citing a quale as an explanation for a subject’s reaction is empty and meaningless, like telling a woman that she’s pregnant because she’s conceived without further explanation. It’s ironic that Dennett’s recommendation for escaping this tautological emptiness is to figure out the requisite mechanical theory of conception. This would then make conception an effective explanation of pregnancy. So why doesn’t Dennett apply this tactic to the quale–reaction relation? The probable answer is that Dennett has convinced himself that qualia are dualistic illusions and thus cannot form part of an effective mechanical, or even biological, theory to explain a behavioral reaction. Other researchers, however, are not burdened by such preconceptions: Jaak Panksepp, for example, believed that qualia can be seen as the missing link between the classic behaviorist phenomena of stimulus and response. Rather than the causality moving directly from stimulus to response, he asserted that affect (subjective feeling) provides the rewards and punishments necessary to reinforce behavioral patterns (Panksepp, 2012). In Panksepp’s description of snake-aversion, therefore, qualia would be part of the mechanism! His account would work as follows: rather than being irrelevant epiphenomena, the qualia of fear and disgust provoked by the sight of the snake would be part of the mechanism via which the primate organism mobilizes an appropriate aversive response. In other words, these unpleasant qualic feelings would stimulate the primate to flee, or otherwise avoid the snake. Thus, for our protection against snakes, evolution has hardwired a connection between perception of snakes and the negative qualic experiences of fear and disgust. Note that this explanation gives the subjective qualities of qualia a proper causal role that Dennett’s version denies. In other words, what we feel subjectively actually has effects on how we behave! (Where our feelings come from is a different question, which I address via Whitehead’s ontology in my forthcoming book.)

Dennett’s Unconvincing Examples:
(3) Acquired Tastes

Dennett’s customary convolutions are next employed in trying to explain acquired tastes. As above, Dennett dismisses qualia as illusions associated with basic, hardwired alarms and attractions. This position, however, makes it difficult to explain how that which may at first be aversive later becomes attractive. Dennett’s explanation runs as follows:

These native alarmists have subsequently been co-opted in a host of more complicated organizations, built from millions of associations, and shaped, in the human case, by thousands of memes. In this way the brute come-and-get-it appeal of sex and food and the brute run-for-your-life aversion of pain and fear get stirred together in all sorts of piquant combinations. When an organism discovers that it pays to attend to some feature of the world in spite of its built-in aversion to doing that, it must construct some countervailing coalition to keep aversion from winning. The resulting semi-stable tension can then itself become an acquired taste, to be sought out under certain conditions. (Dennett, 1991, p. 384)

Let me suggest that this is an extremely cumbersome explanation. But is there a simpler and more elegant one?

I believe there is. It consists of accepting the physical reality and causal efficacy of both qualia and emotional affect: both are seen as intrinsic parts of the fabric of reality in Whitehead’s ontology. However, we can begin our refutation of Dennett from the work of researcher, Antonio Damasio. His explanation of qualia can, hopefully, lead us to a more elegant theory of acquired tastes. Damasio begins by identifying what he calls Qualia 1 and Qualia 2. The first (in my interpretation) refers back to a raw, direct and isolated sensory experience in one of the sense modalities. As to Qualia 2, Damasio says: “If subjective experiences are accompanied by feelings, how are feeling states engendered in the first place?” (Damasio, 2010, p. 269 ), which, I believe, can be interpreted as the emotional response to a simple, basic quale. The two components together, Qualia 1 and Qualia 2, produce what Damasio calls a feeling. The picture of qualic experience that emerges could be described as follows: qualic feelings consist of two components: (1) a simple, immediate quale, such as seeing the color red; and (2) an emotional evaluation of this quale. Damasio implies that the initial quale is closer to basic neurophysiological processes, not necessarily conscious, and therefore “easier” to explain. Damasio asks why these physical, neurochemical events should feel like something. The answer is that qualia are always accompanied by emotions and affects:

No set of conscious images of any kind and on any topic ever fails to be accompanied by an obedient choir of emotions and consequent feelings.

He illustrates this with the example of watching dawn over the Pacific Ocean:

I am not just seeing, I am also emoting to this majestic beauty. . . . This is happening through no deliberation of mine, and I have no power to prevent the feelings, any more than I had any power to initiate them. (Damasio, 2010, pp. 229–330)

As a confirmation of this “always-togetherness” of qualia and emotion in normal life, Damasio identifies a small range of real-life situations where the expected emotional response to qualia may be reduced or even completely fail to materialize; the most benign of these are produced by common medical drugs such as tranquillizers like Valium or antidepressants like Prozac, which, given in sufficient dosages, shut down emotions. A more serious (because internally generated) example is depression: here all positive feelings “are notoriously absent and . . . even negative feelings such as sadness may be dampened so severely that the result is an affectively blunted state” (Damasio, 2010, p. 330). So Damasio’s conclusion is: if you suppress or eliminate emotional responsiveness, you inevitably also suppress or eliminate qualia, thus giving the formula: Sensation + Emotion = Quale (Damasio, 2010). Another illustration he provides of the always-togetherness of qualia and emotion is listening to music:

There are two musical tracks going in my mind, one with the Bach piece that is playing right now and another with the music-like track with which I react to the actual music in the language of emotion and feeling. (Damasio, 2010, p. 330)

In other words, Damasio is saying that as the auditory qualia of the actual music progresses in the brain, it is immediately accompanied by an emotional response, perhaps to each note or phase or pause.

This two-component conception of qualia now permits me to provide, as promised, my more elegant explanation of acquired tastes: the “basic” qualia—for example, our immediate experience of the bitter taste of an olive, the discordant sound of a musical phrase, or the aggressive shapes and colors of an abstract painting—would remain the same (presumably determined by our neurophysiology), but our emotional response to them can change, or be “educated” over time. So, what was once aversive or repellent can become pleasurable or intriguing, although the basic experience itself has not changed. This seems to me a much more flexible and realistic account of acquired tastes than Dennett’s cumbersome one, which (let’s remind ourselves) ran as follows: inbuilt alarms and attractions can become combined and blended into more sophisticated tastes and aversions, they get “co-opted in a host of more complicated organisations, built from millions of associations, and shaped, in the human case, by thousands of memes” (Dennett, 1991, p. 384). But these changes require the construction of some “countervailing coalition” to keep, for example, aversion from winning: “The resulting semi-stable tension can then itself become an acquired taste, to be sought out under certain conditions” (p. 384). Not a very parsimonious explanation! What makes it so cumbersome is Dennett’s studied refusal to accept a causal role for affect, the subjective experience of emotion. Other researchers are not so inhibited: Edmund Rolls (2005) endorses just such a role for subjective emotion by claiming that their evolution enabled genes to specify goals and rewards, rather than directly determining specific behavioral responses, in other words, “the theory that genes set many goals for action does not mean that our behavior is determined by genes” (Rolls, 2005, p. vii). Modern evolutionary theory has revealed that many behavioral traits may have some genetic basis, but that doesn’t mean that they will inevitably appear, because much depends on the environment: “In evolution, genes specify rewards and punishers that are goals for action, but do not specify the actions themselves, which are flexible and can be learned” (p. vii). As above, another researcher into the anatomy and physiology of emotion, Jaak Panksepp, supported this position and indeed claimed that this causal role of affect is the missing link that can make the functioning of the stimulus–response relationship far more flexible than Behaviourism’s passive–mechanical account.

Pinker’s Critique of Energetic Processes

Steven Pinker provides a comprehensive explanatory framework into which Dennett’s Car–Ton-ist arguments can be neatly fitted:

The computational theory of mind is a radical challenge to our everyday way of thinking about the mind, because the theory says that the life-blood of thought is information. That goes against our folk notion that the lifeblood of thought is energy or pressure. (Pinker, 1999, para. 11)

As an example of the folk psychological approach to behavioral explanation, Pinker asks why did the disgruntled postal worker shoot up the post office? The common explanation tends to assume that “pressure” had been “building up” for many years until he finally “burst”:

The metaphor is that thought and emotion are animated by some superheated fluid or gas under pressure. Now, there is no doubt that this hydraulic metaphor captures something about our experience. But we know that it is not literally how the brain works: there is no container full of fluid and channels through which the fluid flows. [This raises the question] why is the brain going to so much trouble to simulate energy and pressure, given that it doesn’t literally work that way? (Pinker, 1999, para. 11)

Let’s consider a couple of features of Pinker’s comments. First, Pinker’s version of energetic processes takes a curiously nineteenth-century form: thought and emotion are “animated by some superheated fluid or gas under pressure”. One is directed immediately to the steam engine as a model for the mind, or (more generously) to Freud’s gather crude hydraulic theories. But, Pinker assures us, “we know that it is not literally how the brain works: there is no container full of fluid and channels through which the fluid flows.” I think we all know that there isn’t some version of a steam engine in the brain. We should perhaps recall that for over a century we have been living in the quantum world, where energetic processes are no longer confined to superheated fluids or gases under pressure. Pinker’s second comment worthy of note is: “There is no doubt that this hydraulic metaphor captures something about our experience.” He clearly concedes that this is how emotion feels to us, in our folk wisdom. But he also “knows” that we are wrong about this. His position on this is taken from Car–Ton-ist ontology, which Henry Stapp and many other quantum physicists would dismiss as utterly without foundation in contemporary science.

Pinker uses the irrationality and involuntariness of romantic love to illustrate the difference between the way emotions feel to us and the Car–Ton-ist “reality” of the brain’s logic and functionality: even potential mates who appear to be a perfect match on paper, he says, turn out to be unexciting when met in person. And, vice versa, someone can fall deeply in love with a person who, on rational grounds, seems completely inappropriate. Why should this be the case? Pinker explains: if through totally “rational” shopping, you set up house with the best person you’ve so far found then, by the law of averages, someone better will come along sooner or later, at which point a rational agent might be tempted to drop their current partner on the spot (Pinker, 1999). But pair-bonding requires sacrifices, such as forgoing opportunities with other potential partners, plus all the time and energy involved in child-rearing, and so forth, hence if rational spouses anticipated this, they might not enter the relationship in the first place, resulting in the paradoxical situation in which what is in the interest of both parties—that they stay with each other—cannot be effected because neither one can trust the other if the other is acting as a rational, “smart shopper” (Pinker, 1999).

Pinker suggests that evolution has solved this problem by ensuring that we’re hard-wired not to fall in love for rational reasons. Consequently, we’re less likely to fall out of love for rational reasons. A mutual feeling of helplessness makes the exchange of promises between a love-struck couple mutually believable, even when they both know that it may be rational to break that promise in the future. In other words, Pinker is arguing that our brains make elaborate calculations in order to select the best currently available mating partner, but this rational process is hidden from us by an overwhelming and irrational feeling of falling in love with the ultimately selected partner. This feeling protects the family unit by blocking the brain from using similar rational calculations to abandon the original partner when a more attractive one becomes available. In a nutshell, my critique of this argument is that it’s a very cumbersome way of denying the reality and causal effects of the emotions involved in falling in love. The origin of these emotions may not be consciously available to us. (For example, the quality of our early relationships with our parents does, I believe, have a very significant influence on the people we select as mates.) However, the work of Panksepp (2012) and Whitehead (1929) can lead us to the conclusion that the affects we experience while engaged in the process of mate selection (popularly known as “falling in love”) are sufficient causes in themselves to drive our behavior and enable the bonding necessary for effective child-rearing. In a similar vein, Keysers (2011) notes that if he had asked his grandmother how she knew she was in love, she would have told him that she just “felt” it: “she knew that the processes through which we understand other people are not logical but intuitive” (p. 29). In contrast to Pinker’s analysis, he concludes: “Ironically, it might be that our grandmothers’ intuitive answer ‘because I felt it’ captures our nature better than do most rational scientists’ vision of the mind as a logical, disembodied information-processing computer” (p. 30).

Qualia Necessary for Learning

In conclusion, we can look at the implicit implications of the theory of qualia that I have been invoking in opposition to infomania. Simply stated, the major assertion is that qualia are necessary for learning, especially for what I’d call deep learning: I use this term to refer to the life-forming experiences that occur predominantly in early infancy, when the human organism is especially sensitive and vulnerable to intense, affective qualic experience. As per Edmund Rolls (mentioned above), this sensitivity provides us with our enormous behavioral flexibility in adapting to the vast range of global and emotional environments in which we are fated to live (Rolls, 2005). In neurophysiological terms, Gerald M. Edelman has described this process as neural Darwinism, referring to the process of pruning, or weeding out, the superabundance of neurons from birth in order to sculpt the brain into a particular adaptive form suited to the environment in which the infant is growing up (Edelman, 1990). I suggest that the emotional structuring brought about by this process is based on, and guided by, affective qualic experience. In other words, the qualic experiences of early infancy provide the rewards and punishers that structure the infantile brain.

To illustrate this thesis, we can appeal to a thought experiment—this time of my own devising: imagine two female toddlers, around 2 to 4 years old. Both their fathers have a beard. One father is an exemplary parent; kind, patient, attentive and supportive of his daughter. The other father sexually abuses his daughter. Now imagine those same two girls as young women, engaged in mate selection. They are at a party when a mutual friend introduces them to an eligible young man, who just happens to have a beard. The first young woman reacts with immediate attraction and interest. She engages the young man in lively conversation and may eventually enter into a relationship with him. The second young woman, faced with the same young man, flinches on seeing his face, makes an excuse and leaves the party without speaking to the bearded young man. The immediate, and contrasting reactions of the two young women can be seen as the result of early deep learning: for the first, encountering “beard qualia” triggered happy memories of a very positive childhood relationship with her father, whereas for the other, beard qualia provoked traumatic memories of fear and pain. The crucial point here is that it is the affective responses (based on previous emotional life history) to the beard qualia that caused the differences in behavior.

Finally, let me suggest that, while these challenges to Car–Ton World may move us in the right direction, they are partial and lacking in ontological substance and, indeed, currently fail to provide a substantive, coherent, and comprehensive ontological world view. Many might reasonably conclude that no such option is available. I, however, believe that the later, ontological work of Alfred North Whitehead does, in fact, provide such an option, especially when combined with the ontology of quantum mechanics.


Damasio, A. (2010). Self comes to mind. London, United Kingdom: Heinemann.
Dennett, D. (1991). Consciousness explained. Boston, MA: Little, Brown.
Edelman, G. M. (1990). Neural Darwinism: The theory of neuronal group selection. Oxford, UK: Oxford Paperbacks.
Jackson, F. (1982). Epiphenomenal qualia. The Philosophical Quarterly, 32, 127–136.
Keysers, C. (2011). The empathic brain. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Minsky, M. (2006). The emotion machine. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
Panksepp, J. (2012). The Archaeology of the mind. New York, NY: W. W. Norton.
Pinker, S. (1997). How the mind works [Transcript of address to the American Psychological Association]. Retrieved from http://www.kurzweilai.net/how-the-mind-works
Rolls, E. T. (2005). Emotion explained. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.
Whitehead, A. N. (1929). Process and reality: An essay in cosmology. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.


 – This is an excerpt from The Neuropsychotherapist Volume 7 Issue 2 – if you are a member and do not see the whole article please Log In

Steve Minett was educated at the universities of Sussex, Oxford, Minnesota, and Stockholm. He holds five university degrees, including a PhD from Stockholm. He taught for four years at a study-abroad program at the University of Stockholm. He later developed a career in international marketing, working for many multinational companies, eventually setting up his own agency. He became financially independent in 2004 and has since devoted himself to the study of theories of consciousness: his website (below) contains 200+ clips on the subject, plus recordings from 100 relevant books, all freely downloadable: https://consciousvm.wordpress.com

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