Review of Conscious by Annaka Harris

Conscious by Annaka Harris Book CoverThe argument is familiar. It begins with an honest account of the mystery of consciousness and how there is, as of yet, no adequate or complete scientific explanation for how subjective experience of the material world can arise from the material world. The subjective experience of seeing the color red, for example, is very different from the scientific accounts of wavelengths of light or electrochemical activity in the brain.

It is then pointed out that there is no direct external evidence of consciousness, and that only one’s own consciousness can be known with any degree of certainty. The problem of the “philosophical zombie,” however improbable, is nevertheless unnerving as there is no way to definitively prove that consciousness is driving the behavior of others. Consciousness is therefore one of the deepest mysteries in the universe.

Continue reading “Review of Conscious by Annaka Harris”

Rene Descartes and the Search for Certain Knowledge

Rene Descartes MeditationsWe all hold innumerable beliefs with varying degrees of certainty, but few of us have challenged the veracity of those beliefs to the degree that Rene Descartes did in the Meditations on First Philosophy. Descartes wrote:

“Some years ago I was struck by how many false things I had believed, and by how doubtful was the structure of beliefs that I had based on them. I realized that if I wanted to establish anything in the sciences that was stable and likely to last, I needed – just once in my life – to demolish everything completely and start again from the foundations…I am here quite alone, and at last I will devote myself, sincerely and without holding back, to demolishing my opinions.”

Continue reading “Rene Descartes and the Search for Certain Knowledge”