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What does science think about consciousness?

by MathJakob
Tags: consciousness, science
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Sep10-13, 06:28 PM
P: 153
I have the be careful because I don't want this topic to be about philosophy. I want to know what science thinks about consciousness. Is there a global agreement on what it might be? A physical thing like a gene or is it linked in with dna?

There must be some kind of scientific view on what it could or is likely to be. Please only reply if you're professionally qualified to do so. I don't want philosophical answers that will get the thread closed.
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jim mcnamara
Sep10-13, 07:44 PM
Sci Advisor
PF Gold
P: 1,387
This is/was a "fringe" refereed paper:
Neurophenomenology Integrating Subjective Experience and Brain Dynamics in the Neuroscience of Consciousness
Authors: Lutz, Antoine1; Thompson, E.
Journal of Consciousness Studies, Volume 10, Numbers 9-10, 2003 , pp. 31-52(22)
This area of Neuroscience is not hard science. IMO, I liken it to the way Psychology was a long while back. It is hard to get a lot of rigor in the subject.

If you take a class on the history of science, you will encounter something like the following model:
Alpha science - purely descriptive ---> Omega science is highly predictive, has theories and models that are proven to work in the real world and in applied science, and predicts relations between disparate fields that were not previously recognized. Obviously there are beta, gamma steps and so on down the spectrum.

The best I can give Consciousness studies is that it is a beginning alpha science: Like Linnaeus was doing, in the early 1700's, putting things into cubby holes so they have a common reference - basic descriptive science.

You can google for 'neuroscience consciousness' and look around. The JCS is now defunct.

I am not a psychologist, surely some will not have a view like mine. I was trained as a biologist. So I'm a "harder" science guy looking at a "softer" science.

If you don't know Linnaeus, you should:
Jano L.
Sep10-13, 08:38 PM
PF Gold
P: 1,168
I want to know what science thinks about consciousness. Is there a global agreement on what it might be?
Exact sciences are largely about mechanisms and their mathematical analysis. When applied to human, science traditionally views it as a machine, so there is no obvious place or meaning for "consciousness". Most scientists do not think about this concept in terms of science.

There may be some attempts to model thinking process in scientific way, perhaps similar to what is studied in the subject "artificial intelligence".

Meanwhile, "consciousness" is a difficult matter that can be perhaps better studied by other disciplines, perhaps psychology or philosophy.

Sep11-13, 07:31 AM
P: 2,195
What does science think about consciousness?

You could look at the research that is being done in this area. This site, from Michael Graziano at Princeton, has some simple explanations and links to published papers.
Sep11-13, 07:58 AM
P: 625
Actually, consciousness is studied quite a lot in mainstream neuroscience, and it does get published in high impact journals. It has also been subject to a fair amount of mathematical analysis (, http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.o.../3748.abstract). Look up people like Giulio Tononi, Christoph Koch and Anil Seth for examples of people doing mainstream work on the neuroscience of consciousness at a fundamental level.
Sep11-13, 08:09 AM
PF Gold
Pythagorean's Avatar
P: 4,292
No. There's no global agreement. There's not even really conclusive evidence to agree on. There are some frameworks being developed, though:

Varela's "brainweb":

Christof Koch's "framework for consciousness"

Friston's "free energy principle":

The real test would be able to alter the conscious experience in a reliable way. Currently, we can alter consciousness with drugs, but they're not reliable. They affect the system in unpredictable ways and affect different people differently.

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