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Philosophy Now

Philosophy Now August/September 2017

Philosophy Now is a magazine for everyone interested in ideas. It isn't afraid to tackle all the major questions of life, the universe and everything. It tries to corrupt innocent citizens by convincing them that philosophy can be exciting, worthwhile and comprehensible, and also to provide some light and enjoyable reading matter for those already ensnared by the muse, such as philosophy students and academics. It contains articles on all aspects of philosophy, plus book reviews, film reviews, news, cartoons, and the occasional short story.

Country:
United Kingdom
Language:
English
Publisher:
Anja Publications Ltd
Frequency:
Bimonthly
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6 Issues

in this issue

4 min.
editorial

It is sometimes said that consciousness is a mystery in the sense that we have no idea what it is. This is clearly not true. What could be better known to us than our own feelings and experiences? The mystery of consciousness is not what consciousness is, but why it is. Neuroscience has made considerable progress in understanding the physical mechanisms in the brain underlying human mental functioning and associated behaviour. Modern brain imaging techniques have provided us with a rich body of correlations between physical processes in the brain and the experiences had by the person whose brain it is. We know, for example, that a person undergoing stimulation in her or his ventromedial hypothalamus feels hunger. The problem is that no one knows why these correlations hold. It seems…

4 min.
news

• Martha Nussbaum Calls for Wrinkly Rebellion • Mass extinction • Mass migration • Morality bubbles on Twitter Age Shall Not Weary Martha Nussbaum has for decades been one of America’s best-known living philosophers, energetically bringing her expertise in classical philosophy to bear on an ever-wider range of social and philosophical questions. In May, Professor Nussbaum and her two fellow winners of the 2016 Kyoto Prize travelled to Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government to give public lectures about their current work. Nussbaum’s was on ‘Ageing, Stigma and Disgust’. In it she claimed that popular culture, which obsessively glorifies youth, also stigmatises the elderly, encouraging the young to regard their elders with a disgust closely connected with fear. Nussbaum argued that this produces widespread injustice, discrimination and unhappiness. In particular, she said that compulsory…

14 min.
the case for panpsychism

According to early 21st century Western common sense, the mental doesn’t take up very much of the universe. Most folk assume that it exists only in the biological realm, specifically, in creatures with brains and nervous systems. Panpsychists deny this bit of common sense, believing that mentality is a fundamental and ubiquitous feature of the universe. Mind is everywhere (which is what ‘panpsychism’ translates as). There have been panpsychists in Western philosophy since at least the pre-Socratics of the 7th century BC, and the view achieved a certain dominance in the 19th century. Panpsychism fared less well in the 20th century, being almost universally dismissed by Western philosophers as absurd, if it was ever thought about at all. However, this dismissal was arguably part and parcel of the anti-metaphysics scientism of the…

10 min.
neutral monism: a saner solution to the mind/body problem

The mind-body problem is that it is difficult to see how the mental and the physical fit together within one world. Part of the difficulty is the unsatisfactoriness of trying to explain either side of the mental/ physical duality in terms of the other. Purported physical explanations of consciousness inevitably fall short of their target. They seem about as suitable as a plan to build a skyscraper out of marshmallows, or an attempt to recreate the sensuous colour and curves of a Cezanne painting using only a pencil and set square – the materials are simply not up to the job. Physical objects and properties just do not seem the right kind of ingredients with which to create experiences. And although the failure of physical explanations might make panpsychism seem…

17 min.
the integrated information theory of consciousness

Consciousness is something with which we’re all intimately familiar. It’s the thing that goes away every night in deep sleep, and comes back when we wake up every morning, or whenever we start dreaming. It encompasses all our subjective feelings and experiences, ranging from the simple redness of red, to the complex depth of an emotion, to the ephemeral quality of thought. It’s the one thing that is directly and immediately known to us, and it mediates our knowledge of the external world. This is how consciousness is defined by neuroscientist Giulio Tononi, the originator of the Integrated Information Theory of consciousness, or IIT for short. IIT is now one of the leading theories of consciousness in neuroscience. According to IIT, consciousness is linked to integrated information, which can be represented…

13 min.
does consciousness cause quantum collapse?

It is widely acknowledged that there is a problem of explaining how subjective, conscious experience could arise out of physical matter. The focus is generally on the matterto- consciousness direction. But there is an equally puzzling problem going in the other direction. What causal effects does consciousness have on physical matter? In short, what does consciousness do? A popular view in philosophy of mind is physicalism. Physicalists believe the mind is just the brain. So for example, a particular experience, such as an itch, or a visual experience of red, would be nothing more than electrochemical processes in the brain. A less popular view is dualism. Dualists believe that mind and brain are distinct. On this view conscious experience is something in addition to the brain processes that accompany it, something…