#TMFC (The Models For Consciousness, October 01, 2016):
‘What’ gives rise to conscious experience? How can we know if consciousness is fundamental, and if can we model it? Why aren’t sticks and stones, & tables and chairs, manifestly ‘conscious’? Do we really know? Is consciousness the capacity of a system to integrate information? Why is information processing by us (often) accompanied by conscious experience? Why is consciousness generated only by certain parts of the brain? How does one measure consciousness? ‘How’ does pain exist? Is reality singular or plural? What are the different modes of experiencing? Are only conscious things intentional? Can consciousness be subdivided into different modes? When we are aware, what are we aware of? Can awareness be a felt experience, having nothing to do with knowledge? Can consciousness be content-less or does it always need an object? Can everything be a knower and/or have an experience, & why not? Can we speed up our awareness; why or why not? Is it likely that the nature of matter and consciousness are deeply interlinked? Will the third person and the first person concepts of consciousness converge in the long term future? SynTalk thinks about these & more questions using concepts from cognitive science & philosophy (Prof. Amita Chatterjee, Jadavpur University, Kolkata), Indian philosophy (Prof. V. N. Jha, ex-University of Pune, Pune) and information theory (Dr. Nithin Nagaraj, NIAS, Bangalore).
SynTalk is pleased and privileged to have hosted the following SynTalkrs (in alphabetical order) on its #TMFC show.
Prof. Amita Chatterjee (cognitive sciences, philosophy) is currently the Emeritus Professor at the School of Cognitive Science, Jadavpur University. Her areas of research include Indian and western logic, fusion philosophy, and philosophies of logic, language, mind and cognitive science. She graduated with Honours in Philosophy from Presidency College (Kolkata) and received her Ph.D. from the University of Calcutta. She taught philosophy in the Centre of Advanced Study of Philosophy at Jadavpur University (Kolkata) for 31 years, and was the coordinator of the Centre for Cognitive Science, Jadavpur University from 2000 to 2010. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of ‘Journal of Indian Council of Philosophical Research’ (ICPR/Springer). She is the Second Vice President (2016-19) of Division of Logic, Methodology, Philosophy of Science and Technology (DLMPST) which is part of International Union of History and Philosophy of Science and Technology (IUHPST). She was a National Fellow (2012-2014) of Indian Council of Philosophical Research (ICPR), and the First Vice Chancellor at Presidency University (Kolkata). She is widely published, writes in English and in Bangla, and has edited and authored ten books in philosophy. As part of her academic engagements she has researched and taught at universities in the U.K., Europe, U.S.A. and across India. Some of her published works include, ‘Understanding Vagueness’ (Pragati Publications, New Delhi, 1994) & ‘Mental Reasoning: Experiments and Theories’ (co-authored with Smita Sirker, Codex Publishers, Kolkata, 2009).
Prof. V. N. Jha (navya nyaya philosophy, sanskrit studies) is Former Director of Centre of Advanced Study in Sanskrit, University of Pune (Pune). He is presently engaged in promoting, training and disseminating classical Indian knowledge systems all over the world through contemporary idiom. He received his graduate education from North Bengal University & completed his M.A. in Sanskrit (with Vedic Group) from Banaras Hindu University (BHU) and another M.A. in Comparative Philology from Calcutta University. His research interests are language, philosophy, logic and epistemology, grammar, and linguistics in Indian traditions. He is widely regarded as an authority on Navya Nyaya philosophy. As a young scholar, Prof. Jha received special training in Sanskrit from Pandita Sitakanta Acharya, Srinivasa Sastri and Sivaramkrishna Sastri in grammar, Indian philosophy, Indian logic & Indian Hermeneutics. He taught in Pune University for more than 30 years, and retired in 2006. Prof. Jha was also the Founder Chairpersn, Special Centre for Sanskrit Studies, JNU (Delhi) in the year 2002- 2003. He has been a visiting professor in Humboldt University (Germany), Nagoya University (Japan), University of Lausanne (Switzerland), and Mahatma Gandhi Institute (Mauritius). Prof. Jha has authored and edited over 50 books and published over 150 research articles in Indian and International Journals. He has been honored by titles and awards such as Mahamahopadhyaya, Vachaspati, Pandita sarvabhauma, & D.Litt.
Dr. Nithin Nagaraj (information theory, chaos theory) is currently with the Consciousness Studies Programme at National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bangalore. Prior to NIAS, he taught at the Department of Electronics and Communication Engineering, Amrita University (2009-2013), before which he was a visiting faculty in Mathematics at IISER Pune for a brief while in 2008. He has also worked as Research Scientist (2001-2004) and Lead Scientist (2013-2015) at GE Global Research (Bangalore) in the area of biomedical signal and image analysis. His research interests have spanned a broad spectrum of areas, including information and coding theory, chaos theory, cryptography, wavelets, compressed sensing, and consciousness studies. He did his Bachelors in Engineering (Electrical & Electronics) from National Institute of Technology (NIT), Karnataka (1999), and then completed his M.S. in Information Theory from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy (New York, 2001). He completed his Ph.D. from NIAS in 2010 & his thesis was titled ‘Novel applications of Chaos Theory to Coding and Cryptography’. Recently, he has developed a mathematical model to explain neural signal multiplexing in the brain via a signal processing paradigm known as Compressed Sensing. Another line of his ongoing research is exploring the complexity measure known as ‘Effort-To-Compress’, which is effective in characterizing complexity of short and noisy time series, and has been shown to perform at par or better than other popular complexity measures such as Lempel-Ziv Complexity and Approximate Entropy measure. He is also deeply interested in Vedanta and Atma-Vichara.
Note: Any & all errors in the brief profiles above are SynTalk’s own.
#TMFC mentions: Shankara, Bhartrihari, Vallabhacharya, Vatsyayana, Franz Brentano, Edmund Husserl, Claude Shannon, Maurice Maeterlinck, David Chalmers, Thomas Nagel, & Giulio Tononi, among others.