What is consciousness?
“I THINK, therefore I am.” René Descartes’ aphorism has become a cliché. But it cuts to the core of perhaps the greatest question posed to science: what is consciousness? The other phenomena described in this series of briefs—time and space, matter and energy, even life itself—look tractable. They can be measured and objectified, and thus theorised about. Consciousness, by contrast, is subjective. As Descartes’ observation suggests, a conscious being knows he is conscious. But he cannot know that any other being is. Other apparently conscious individuals might be zombies programmed to behave as if they were conscious, without actually being so.
Video after the jump