Memorial Day–Humanities

HW: Read Chapters 16-18 (finished!) in BNW.

What we’re up to:

  • Consciousness: What is it? Why do we have it? How can matter conjure up the ability to recognize oneself?
  • Brave New World

Woody Allen Quote:

“I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work; I want to achieve immortality through not dying. I don’t want to live on in the hearts of my countrymen; I want to live on in my apartment.”

First Question:

It’s Memorial Day! Some questions. Why do we try to remember those who sacrificed themselves for us? What is the meaning behind this impulse, behind this holiday? Do our memories matter? Does the possibility that people will remember you when you die motivate you to greater effort?

Now, let’s talk consciousness. We’ll read an article entitled: “I feel therefore I am.

  1. Say this in your own words: John Locke wondered if ‘the same object should produce in several men’s minds different ideas at the same time; for example, the idea, that a violet produces in one man’s mind by his eyes, were the same that a marigold produced in another man’s, and vice versa.’
  2. What is the “hard problem” of consciousness?
  3. What is physicalism?
  4. What is a Chalmers zombie? How do we know we aren’t one? Or that Mr. Stearns is or isn’t one?
  5. What is the medieval mind/body dualism?
  6. Why did Descartes want to keep dualism around? What do we lose, or so he thought, when our beliefs become purely materialist?
  7. What is the many worlds theory?
  8. What does Max Tegmark hope is true about consciousness? What would that mean?
  9. Your turn. What evolutionary benefit do we get from having self-awareness?
  10. Your turn. Chalmers thinks that the world is made up of something besides physical stuff? What do you think?

Then, we’re moving on to BNW.

Hopefully, we’ll watch a TED talk with Nick Bostrom about transhumanism.


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