The New York Times has an interview with Daniel Dennett a philospopher who has written extensively about human consciousness and the relation between mind and brain. He takes a very iconoclastic and rationalist approach.
Mr. Dennett, the co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University and perhaps America’s most widely read (and debated) living philosopher,
The new book, largely adapted from previous writings, is also a lively primer on the radical answers Mr. Dennett has elaborated to the big questions in his nearly five decades in philosophy, delivered to a popular audience in books like “Consciousness Explained”(1991), “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea” (1995) and “Freedom Evolves.”
The mind? A collection of computerlike information processes, which happen to take place in carbon-based rather than silicon-based hardware.
The self? Simply a “center of narrative gravity,” a convenient fiction that allows us to integrate various neuronal data streams.
The elusive subjective conscious experience — the redness of red, the painfulness of pain — that philosophers call qualia? Sheer illusion.
Human beings, Mr. Dennett said, quoting a favorite pop philosopher, Dilbert, are “moist robots.”
“I’m a robot, and you’re a robot, but that doesn’t make us any less dignified or wonderful or lovable or responsible for our actions,” he said. “Why does our dignity depend on our being scientifically inexplicable?”