Waking, Dreaming, Being

From a review of Waking, Dreaming, Being: Self and Consciousness in Neuroscience, Meditation, and Philosophy by Evan Thompson:

Armed with high-resolution digital tools, researchers have mapped critical steps in cognition and vision, language and even memory.

The success of these studies, however, leads some to claim them as proof in favor of “neuro-reductionism” — the proposition that we’re all nothing but the goop of our brains. From this standpoint, minds are never more than just brain function. Once the working brain stops working, our consciousness ends, we end, end of story.

But for others, including Thompson, something essential is left out of this neuro-­reductionist account. The vividness of our experience is neither corralled nor exhausted by fM.R.I. maps or the traces of brain waves in an EEG. There is an “explanatory gap” hanging between neural activity and conscious experience. While that gap has led some philosophers, like Colin McGinn, to argue that consciousness is simply beyond scientific explanation, Thompson moves in a different direction…

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