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The Michael Shermer Show

A series of conversations between Dr. Michael Shermer and leading scientists, philosophers, historians, scholars, writers and thinkers about the most important issues of our time.

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EPISODE # 221

Antonio Damasio — Feeling & Knowing: Making Minds Conscious

Feeling and Knowing: Making Minds Conscious (book cover)

In recent decades, many philosophers and cognitive scientists have declared the problem of consciousness unsolvable, but Antonio Damasio is convinced that recent findings across multiple scientific disciplines have given us a way to understand consciousness and its significance for human life. In his latest work, Feeling & Knowing, Damasio helps us understand why being conscious is not the same as sensing, why nervous systems are essential for the development of feelings, and why feeling opens the way to consciousness writ large. He combines the latest discoveries in various sciences with philosophy and discusses his original research, which has transformed our understanding of the brain and human behavior.

Dr. Antonio Damasio is a University Professor, David Dornsife Professor of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Philosophy, and director of the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. He is the author of Self Comes to Mind, The Strange Order of Things, Descartes’ Error, Looking for Spinoza, and The Feeling of What Happens.

Shermer and Damasio discuss:

  • Feeling & Knowing as a meditative reverie reflecting on making minds conscious,
  • homeostasis as a primary purpose of life,
  • the second law of thermodynamics is the first law of life,
  • sensing, minding, feeling, being, knowing, and consciousness,
  • What is mind, and is it the same as brain?
  • What does it mean to experience something?
  • spatially mapped patterns that represent objects and actions,
  • What is memory?
  • What is the self?
  • intelligence as the ability to resolve successfully the problems posed by the struggle for life,
  • multiple intelligences,
  • the purpose of emotions,
  • brains and bodies,
  • the purpose of a nervous system,
  • Are plants conscience? Other animals?
  • What is consciousness “for”?
  • consciousness as a rheostat instead of a light switch,
  • free will and determinism,
  • interchangeable substrates of consciousness,
  • AI: can a computer ever be conscious or sentient?
  • mind-uploading a copy of a connectome, and
  • Where does consciousness go during sleep and anaesthesia? Death?

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This episode is sponsored by Wondrium:

Wondrium (sponsor)

This episode was released on October 26, 2021.

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