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In this Episode we’re going to be introducing one of the oldest and most talked about problems in philosophy, the problem of consciousness. Just how does our subjective experience as humans relate to our existence as human bodies with brains? For most of the 20th century you couldn’t really talk about this as a serious scientist without being laughed at and told to study something useful; but since the 90’s, with the advancement of MRI brain imaging in neuroscience, and the coining the term The ‘Hard Problem’ by funky philosopher David Chalmers, Consciousness studies have blossomed back into mainstream science.

So to kick off the podcast with a bang, and explain the mystery that perhaps underlies all mysteries is psychologist and author and visiting Professor at Plymouth University, Dr Susan Blackmore. Best known for her books The Meme MachineZen and the Art of ConsciousnessConsciousness: An Introduction and Seeing Myself; Sue’s work spans across hundreds of publications in over 20 different languages, making huge contributions in the fields of psychology, memetics, religion, philosophy of mind, supernatural experience, and many other areas. It is no surprise to find her ranked amongst 2013’s 30 Most Influential Psychologists Working Today and 2015’s Top 100 Global Minds.

In this episode we cover:

09:00 How do we define consciousness?

15:00 Is dualism an unrealistic position?

18:00 The hard problem explained

23:00 Sue’s Out of body experience 

36:00 Explaining OBE’s biochemically

45:00 The importance of body schema

50:00 Introducing the various theories of consciousness

51:00 Dan Dennet's views on consciousness 

56:00 Illusionism: the belief that consciousness is an illusion

57:00 Galen Strawson and the attraction of panpsychism

58:00 The importance of the 'don’t know' mind for studying consciousness

1:05:00 Zen, the self and non-duality

1:14:00 What would a post-self society look like?


Books and References discussed:

Sue Blackmore - Consciousness - A very short introduction

Sue Blackmore - Conversations on Consciousness

Dan Dennett - Consciousness Explained

Zen and the Art of Consciousness

Sue’s Son, illustrator for many of her books, Jolyon Troscianko 

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