Consciousness is a hard problem because it is emergent, mixes software and hardware, and is dizzyingly self-referential. It’s harder still because, in a sense, it impossible to study directly.
We can measure how some living (or even inanimate) thing interacts with the world. We can learn to recognize intelligence and reflexivity in that behavior. But how can we tell what it is like to be that thing?
Christof Koch, one of today’s leading thinkers on consciousness, describes it as “physics from the inside.” It’s a different category of question than we’re used to, and one that has a growing set of intersections with other sciences.
It is even a short distance from some common laments. Why don’t we understand each other, or even ourselves? This issue is full of discovery, re-discovery and argument by analogy.
Because that’s a good place to start.
Welcome to “Consciousness.”Read the Issue