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Q & A: consciousness

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Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
Q:
How is it that we are conscious? We’re made of the same stuff as stars right...so is it just the way our atoms are arranged? So is it like a magic incantation...put it all together just right and POOF you have consciousness? It’s very strange...It drives me mad thinking about it.
- William (age 16)
Hubbard High School, Hubbard, TX
A:
William- This question is very familiar, since in my 55 years I have repeatedly taught a course on the relation between physics and philosophy in which it comes up. Here's how it now looks to me: "It's very strange...It drives me mad thinking about it."

Mike W.

I personally recommend the book, "Godel, Escher, Bach", by Douglas Hofsdatder, which talks about machine learning and addresses this subject in a more or less reductionist fashion. It's fun reading and it won the Pulitzer prize. It's not the only way to think about things, of course, but at least it is a pleasant way to go mad for a while.

Tom

(published on 10/22/2007)

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