By Gerald Edelman, Giulio Tononi
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Extra resources for A Universe Of Consciousness: How Matter Becomes Imagination
Try to juggle in your mind more than seven digits at a time or to keep more than four objects in the mind’s eye at a given time. Or try to follow two movies simultaneously, and your perceptual and cognitive limitations will become obvious. In fact, the seeming richness of detail of many conscious scenes is more apparent than real. We believe that we can see at once all features of a landscape containing innumerable trees, houses, and people with different shapes, colors, movement, and depth or that we can perceive an extraordinary richness of detail in a single orchestral passage.
Qxd 6/24/04 THE 12:11 PM SPECIAL Page 15 PROBLEM OF CONSCIOUSNESS 15 Finally, in accord with our view of the conscious observer, the qualia assumption states that the subjective, qualitative aspects of consciousness, being private, cannot be communicated directly through a scientific theory that, by its nature, is public and intersubjective. Accepting this assumption does not mean that the necessary and sufficient conditions for consciousness cannot be described, only that describing them is not the same as generating and experiencing them.
And sometimes the best way to ask the right question is to come up with an example that makes most explicit what the problem is about. 7 Let us then consider a conscious human being performing the same task and then giving a verbal report. The problem of consciousness can now be posed in elementary terms: Why should the simple differentiation between light and dark performed by the human being be associated with and, indeed, require conscious experience, while that performed by the photodiode presumably does not?