The ‘Hard Problem’ – Consciousness, Experience, and Mind

This past Monday I presented a talk to the Advanced Seminar Program at the Chicago-based Zygon Center for Religion and Science and editorial home of the journal Zygon: Journal of Science & Religion. My host was Zygon’s editor Phil Hefner. The theme of this year’s seminar was The ‘Hard Problem’ – Consciousness, Experience, and Mind – my talk dealt with “Philosophical Responses to the ‘Hard Problem'” (a very modest PowerPoint slide show can be downloaded here). The  multidisciplinary audience (from various branches of medicine, other natural sciences, computer science, mathematics, psychology, philosophy, theology, and the arts) was comprised of faculty and students from the umpteen colleges and universities in Chicago. This audience proved to be as attentive, open, congenial and highly thoughtful a group as one could wish for.  The format was terrific – an informal chat with attendees over a dinner followed by 90 minutes of my talking in the seminar room, a break, and then discussion open to the floor that lasted until past 10 p.m. The discussion then continued in a local bar lubricated by good company and several pitches of good beer. A couple of hours later I had to head out to O’Hare and went directly to work in Boston – all in all a wonderful experience despite the fatigue that finally caught up with me.

Prior to my talk I had the privilege of having a lunchtime meeting at Northwestern with Gayle Woloschak. Over lunch Gayle gave Phil Hefner and I a layman’s overview of what nanotechnology is, it’s successes, it’s limitations and the resistance such research faces within the public domain.

I want to thank Phil Hefner for his amazing hospitality as well as the Zygon Center staff for their hospitality and attention to detail in making my stay so comfortable.