Jim al-Khalili

Aliens

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Pichkurov Sergeyhas quoted3 years ago
But by studying the limits of our own awareness alongside the remarkable abilities of other species, and by realising that the way we experience the world, and the self, is not the only way, we can gain startling glimpses into a space of ‘possible consciousnesses’. We might never experience what it is like to be an octopus, but it seems very likely that there is something it is like to be this terrestrial alien.
Pichkurov Sergeyhas quoted3 years ago
Is consciousness a unique event in the history of the Universe, concentrated by evolutionary happenstance on a small planet in a distant backwater of a remote Galaxy? Or is consciousness here, there and everywhere? Perhaps consciousness is even a fundamental property of the Universe itself, like electrical charge and mass. As yet, nobody knows.
Pichkurov Sergeyhas quoted3 years ago
Perception isn’t just about having this or that sense. When we perceive our environment, for example using vision, we don’t just build an accurate picture of an objective reality, like an internal camera might do. Instead, we perceive the world in terms of how we might act in it and on it.
Pichkurov Sergeyhas quoted3 years ago
Our current best guess is that human consciousness depends on how different brain regions talk to each other.
Pichkurov Sergeyhas quoted3 years ago
Some aspects of self-consciousness, like experiences of body ownership and of having a first-person perspective on the world, are so continuous and pervasive that it is easy to take them for granted. But it’s just these aspects of consciousness that might be most different in species like O. vulgaris, since their bodies and the way they interact with the world are so very different from us.
Pichkurov Sergeyhas quoted3 years ago
Putting things a bit more carefully, for conscious organisms there exists a continuous (though interruptible) stream of conscious scenes or experiences – a ‘phenomenal world’ – which is subjective and private.
Pichkurov Sergeyhas quoted3 years ago
Nonetheless, some key features of reality may be beyond our conceptual grasp.
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