886 Consciousness and science

Prof. Anil Seth says in his  TED  talk, "Consciousness is a controlled hallucination … a fantasy that coincides with reality." That is a good start into the world of scientific exploration of consciousness. I have two essays CONSCIOUSNESS 1 and CONSCIOUSNESS 2 in my book en.light.en.ment ... but for further exploration I urge you to listen to Sam Harris' podcast; admittedly, at about three hours, it is a very involved conversation with Anil Seth:

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Anil Seth about the scientific study of consciousness, where consciousness emerges in nature, levels of consciousness, perception as a “controlled hallucination,” emotion, the experience of “pure consciousness,” consciousness as “integrated information,” measures of “brain complexity,” psychedelics, different aspects of the “self,” conscious AI, and many other topics.

But the first step probably should be Seth's TED talk - they reference it in the podcast - and at only 17 minutes it's a great introduction to the subject matter.


Anil K. Seth is Professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience at the University of Sussex and Founding Co-Director of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science.

Sam Harris should not need an introduction on my website ...

This is a three-hour talk … the first two hours are about consciousness. Since it’s a discussion between two neuroscientists, this was hard work for me. At about 2 hours the talk about the self kicks in … very interesting for someone who writes about consciousness, though from a different angle (from CONSCIOUSNESS 2):


As I talk of consciousness, I talk in the context of philosophy & spirituality

about mind & self and its relationship to universal consciousness.

This investigation is in contrast to scientific analyses of consciousness.


For a scientific sense of what consciousness is and how to define it in

the context of physics, biology and neuroscience, go to the TED talk

by Anil Seth and Sam Harris’ podcast Consciousness and the Self.


So at about two hours, they talk about the self; there is the …


·   bodily self, the experience of having a body

·   perspectival self, to experience the world from a certain point of view

·   volitional self involves experiences of intentions, of wanting to do this or that

·   narrative self, where the “I” comes is, the experience of being a person

·   social self, where our self relates to the minds of others


Myself, I do have an issue with this talk about the various manifestations of the self ... I believe the good professors are really talking about the ego here. The self as I understand it is unchanging and synonymous with soul and higher consciousness. 

In my book lower consciousness - ego - is the agent that manifests in the ways that Seth and Harris outline above. This is where I talk about duality ... the duality of lower consciousness (ego, our thinking and acting mind, which they call the self here) and higher consciousness (soul or inner self). See my essay DUALITY.

Scientists - of course - don't / can't go along this path ... soul & inner self for them are a delusion, at best a hallucination. Very interesting all this; my book en.light.en.ment is full of this stuff. See also my blog 855.

At about two and a half hours the discussion moves on to AI; see also my blog 890.