Matter and Consciousness
It has become customary to talk about consciousness as the great unsolved problem of our age. I argue that consciousness itself is not the problem; the problem is our customary mode of thinking. I will outline the thesis of a new book, The Matter with Things, in which I suggest that, because of our allegiance to a certain model of the world, demonstrably associated with the left hemisphere of the brain, we misunderstand the fundamental nature of the world, and as a result run into predictable problems in trying to make sense of it.
These problems are in evidence all around us in the modern West. For the purposes of this talk I will focus on the relationship between matter and consciousness, and ask: are they two things or one? Are they things at all? If they are different in what way? How necessary are brains to consciousness? And why do we have consciousness at all?
- The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World – Dr Iain McGilchrist
- Consciousness and Its Place in Nature – Galen Strawson
- Minding Matter – Adam Frank
About the Speaker:
Dr Iain McGilchrist
Dr Iain McGilchrist is a Psychiatrist and Writer, who lives on the Isle of Skye, off the coast of North West Scotland. He is committed to the idea that the mind and brain can be understood only by seeing them in the broadest possible context, that of the whole of our physical and spiritual existence, and of the wider human culture in which they arise – the culture which helps to mould, and in turn is moulded by, our minds and brains. He was formerly a Consultant Psychiatrist of the Bethlem Royal and Maudsley NHS Trust in London, where he was Clinical Director of their southern sector Acute Mental Health Services.
Dr McGilchrist has published original research and contributed chapters to books on a wide range of subjects, as well as original articles in papers and journals, including the British Journal of Psychiatry, American Journal of Psychiatry, The Wall Street Journal, The Sunday Telegraph and The Sunday Times. He has taken part in many radio and TV programmes, documentaries, and numerous podcasts, and interviews on YouTube, among them dialogues with Jordan Peterson, David Fuller of Rebel Wisdom, and philosopher Tim Freke. His books include Against Criticism, The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World, The Divided Brain and the Search for Meaning, and Ways of Attending. He is currently working on his latest book: The Matter With Things, a book of epistemology and metaphysics, to be published by Penguin/Random House. You can keep up to date with his work at www.iainmcgilchrist.com.