Mind to Mind

Mind to Mind is a podcast in which I talk to leading philosophers of mind and cognitive scientists about their work and its significance.

Episode 2: Pete Mandik

Episode Description

Pete Mandik is professor of philosophy at William Paterson University of New Jersey. He works on topics at the intersection between philosophy of mind and the cognitive sciences and is particularly interested in naturalistic accounts of consciousness and intentionality.

We began by talking about Pete’s background and influences, then dived deep into his views about consciousness, representation, and consciousness. Join us to learn why ‘what it is like’ talk is empty, why colour sensations are a myth, and why introspection is more like recalibration than self-monitoring.

Timings

0:00:24: Introduction
0:01:46 Why Pete became a philosopher
0:12:00 Experiences with LSD
0:24:24 Quine and anti-foundationalism
0:30:25 The relation between philosophy and science
0:38:45 Introduction to Pete’s view of consciousness
0:40:43 Three views of the data for a theory of consciousness
0:46:36 A third-person approach to consciousness
0:50:56 ‘What it is like’ to be a bat
0:54:26 Against phenomenal consciousness
0:58:11 The emptiness of what-it-is-like talk
1:06:21 A problem for representational theories of consciousness
1:13:59 A seFurther readingnse in which consciousness is intrinsic
1:18:30 Can consciousness be indeterminate?
1:21:37 Is there anything special about the first-person perspective?
1:26:32 The case against nonconceptual content
1:41:10 The myth of colour sensations
1:51:39 The nature of introspection
2:09:52 Concerns about illusionism
2:24:42: The future of consciousness studies and what to expect from Pete Mandik

Further reading

If you would like to explore Pete’s views in more detail, you could start with these three papers, which deal with topics covered in the interview:

‘Beware of the Unicorn: Consciousness as being represented and other things that don’t exist’. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 16(1) (2009): 5–36.

‘The myth of color sensations, or How not to see a yellow banana’. Topics in Cognitive Science 9(1) (2017): 228–40.

‘The introspectibility of brain states as such’. In, edited by Brian L. Keeley (ed.), Paul Churchland (pp 66–87). Cambridge University Press, 2005.

You can find out more about Pete at these webpages

https://philpeople.org/profiles/pete-mandik

https://wpconnect.wpunj.edu/directories/faculty/default.cfm?user=mandikp

http://www.spacetimemind.com/blog

Episode 1: Nicholas Humphrey

An interview with neuropsychologist Nicholas Humphrey, focusing on the theory of consciousness presented in his books Seeing Red (2006), Soul Dust (2011), and Sentience (2022). We talked about blindsight, the difference between sensation and perception, the function of consciousness, whether phenomenal consciousness is an illusion, artificial consciousness, suicide, spirituality, and evolutionary psychology.

Timings:
00:25 Introduction to Nicholas Humphrey9
02:56 Taking consciousness seriously
05:18 NH’s work with the monkey Helen and his discovery of blindsight
13:24 The discovery of blindsight in humans
15:56 Monkey aesthetics and colour preferences
18:13 The distinction between sensation and perception
22:40 The story of HD and the meaning of sensation
27:53 Sentition and the evolution of sensation
34:52 The evolution of NH’s thinking about consciousness
38:44 NH’s account of adaptive function of consciousness
48:40 Is phenomenal consciousness an illusion?
1:00:24 Phenomenal surrealism
1:03:45 The ipsundrum and the gregundrum
1:08:36 Artificial consciousness
1:14:30 Sentience in non-human animals, with discussion of octopuses
1:20:36 Reflexive consciousness and phenomenal consciousness
1:25:02 Suicide and depression
1:38:02 Materialism, religion, and spirituality
1:42:04 Evolutionary psychology