The Hard Problem of Consciousness: Why Do We Feel What We Feel?

Michael Abramson

11 a.m., January 17, 2021

Here is the speaker’s description of his talk:

“My area of expertise is system modeling and simulation. The folks like me are usually interested in systems’ behavior and not in their feelings. We can say sometimes that a particle “feels” the force, but only metaphorically.

Yet we know that at least some systems, such as humans and animals, really feel something, and for us this subjective experience seems very real. How to reconcile this reality with the reality of physical and chemical processes in our brains?

This seems so difficult to do that this is known as “The Hard Problem of Consciousness.” It looks like physics just doesn’t have a place for something like subjective experience. Or does it?

In this talk I’m going to discuss a radical idea that can make the hard problem of consciousness almost trivial, but may also have profound implications for how we see the world and ourselves, how we trust science and other people, and what kind of moral choices we have. You can decide how this worldview, which I’d call “subjective materialism,” can be consistent with humanism.”

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