Segments in this Video

Meet the Panelists (02:19)


Debate moderator Joanna Kavenna says there is no prevailing theory explaining how brain matter creates thoughts and experiences. She introduces International Center for Philosophy at Bonn director Markus Gabriel, philosopher and speculative realism pioneer Ray Brassier, and philosophy of science professor and theoretical biologist Eva Jablonka.

Markus Gabriel: The Pitch (04:56)

Gabriel denies the metaphysical principle of the unity of reality, and calls for a new framework from which to debate consciousness. There is no German word for "mind." Wakeful consciousness is biological; the question lies in how we recognize truth or things outside ourselves.

Ray Brassier: The Pitch (05:51)

Brassier says there is a difference between knowing what consciousness means and what it is. He discusses the "explanatory gap" argument and says dualism draws on metaphysical assumptions. He denies the claim that we have direct, unmediated knowledge of our mental state.

Eva Jablonka: The Pitch (04:22)

Jablonka sees consciousness as part of the biological and material world. Rationality has to do with the evolution of language and symbolic systems. She argues that living organisms are organized in a unique way to make life itself possible, and we will someday understand consciousness.

Theme One: What is Consciousness and How Does it Arise? - Part One (05:45)

Gabriel says many philosophers distinguish between phenomenal and intentional consciousness, and advocates discussing the history of consciousness. Brassier highlights the schism in contemporary philosophy between consciousness and intentionality. He agrees with Jablonka that biology is key to understanding consciousness.

What is Consciousness and How Does it Arise? - Part Two (06:20)

Jablonka believes the key to understanding consciousness is studying its development as a goal-oriented system and the evolution of language. Gabriel says historical literature tells us more about human self-description terminology than science does. He calls for terms other than phenomenal and intentional to describe consciousness.

Theme Two: Is Consciousness Part of the Material World? (09:25)

Brassier does not believe that all science is reduced to physics, and resists the idea of mental subjectivity. He discusses Heidegger's idea of a proprietary relationship to our own experience. Jablonka cites a blind man who has learned to echo locate as an example of learning about bat experiences. She believes science will soon uncover the mysteries of consciousness.

Theme Three: Do We Need a Radical New Model to Explain Consciousness? (08:32)

Gabriel believes there is no metaphysical gap between humans and animals but argues that social sciences are better disciplines for understanding human consciousness. Brassier argues that consciousness is linked to society and culture and developed with complex communication. Jablonka argues for studying biological and cultural mental evolution.

Credits: Matter and Mind: Is Consciousness Inexplicable? (00:06)

Credits: Matter and Mind: Is Consciousness Inexplicable?

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Matter and Mind: Is Consciousness Inexplicable?

Part of the Series : Institute of Art and Ideas: Cutting Edge Debates and Talks from the World's Leading Thinkers
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Neuroscience has enabled us to explain how the brain affects the body. Yet there is no theory to explain how the matter of the brain creates thought and experience. Is consciousness inexplicable because it is not part of the material world? Or is it somehow physical after all and within our grasp?

The Panel

German philosopher Markus Gabriel, philosopher and author of Nihil Unbound Ray Brassier, and evolutionary biologist Eva Jablonka seek answers. Prize winning novelist Joanna Kavenna hosts.

Length: 48 minutes

Item#: BVL115751

ISBN: 978-1-63521-107-8

Copyright date: ©2015

Closed Captioned

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