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Consciousness

On Scientific Progress

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Imagining scientific concepts that could improve everyone's cognitive abilities. This is the challenge that some of the world's leading scientific thinkers tackled in answer to the 2011 Edge question.

The responses were various and imaginative. One good example came from author Michael Shermer, who wished we would understand that almost everything important in nature and society...

"...happens from the bottom up, not the top down. Water is a bottom-up, self-organised emergent property of hydrogen and oxygen. Life is a bottom-up, self-organised emergent property of organic molecules."

Adding this to their cognitive toolkit might e.g. let religious conservatives recognise the reality of evolution, says Shermer, and let political liberals see that "too much top-down design can interfere with market efficiency".

On Interplay Halcyon In Kal… 26 April 2016

Inspired by the interplay between therapy, poetry, neuroscience and novels in Start the Week.

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Forensic psychotherapist Dr Gwen Adshead talked about the lost natures of her Broadmoor patients, in whom she can still sometimes recognise the little boys they once were.

William Boyd explored how early talent can flourish suddenly and then fade slowly.

Craig Raine compared the "language on point" composition of a poem to the art of dress-making.

On the Self

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The Ego Trick looked at the 'bundle theory' of the self, and argued that we don't have a permanent essential self, but instead are a bundle of thoughts, sensations and impulses...doesn't feel like that though.

 

On Novelty

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...the story of the universe is that information, which I call novelty, is struggling to free itself from habit, which I call entropy... and that this process... is accelerating... It seems as if... the whole cosmos wants to change into information... All points want to become connected... The path of complexity to its goals is through connecting things together... You can imagine that there is an ultimate end-state of that process—it's the moment when every point in the universe is connected to every other point in the universe - Terence McKenna, Workshop in 1998

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Your head's like mine, like all our heads- big enough to contain every god and devil there ever was, big enough to hold the weight of oceans and the turning stars. Whole universes fit in there! But what do we choose to keep in this miraculous cabinet? Little broken things, sad trinkets that we play with over and over - Tom O'Bedlam (The Invisibles)

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While the traditional model of psychiatry and psychoanalysis is strictly personalistic and biographical, modern consciousness research has added new levels, realms and dimensions and shows the human psyche as being essentially commensurate with the whole universe and all of existence - Stanislov Grof

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What a wee little part of a person's life are his acts and his words! His real life is led in his head, and is known to none but himself - Mark Twain