Our of Our Heads? A Conversation with Alva Noe at Bridging the Gaps

Human Consciousness is a fascinating research topic. Discussed previously in a number of Bridging the Gaps conversations, cutting edge research on consciousness – an ungrasped concept and an unsolved problem in science today – will keep appearing here at this Portal for Curious Minds.

It is widely accepted that consciousness arises as an emergent property of the human mind. An important question is where does consciousness arise; does this arise from a single seat in the brain or is this a distributed phenomenon involving various interconnected parts and networks of the brain. Whatever is the answer to this question, most researchers relate this phenomenon with the working of human brain. Alva Noe – part philosopher, part cognitive scientist, part neuroscientist – restates and re-examines the problem of consciousness and proposes that we should abandon “200-year-old paradigm that places consciousness within the confines of the brain”.

Alva Noe is a professor of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a member of the Institute of Cognitive and Brain Sciences and the Center of New Media. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1995.

The focus of this conversation with Alva Noe is his book “Out of Our Heads: Why You are Not Your Brain and Other Lessons from the Biology of Consciousness”. One of the main concepts that Alva Noe presents in this book is that consciousness does not happen in the brain and it is not located in our brains; he suggests that rather than being something that happens inside us, consciousness is something we do. In this conversation we discuss in detail this “fresh attempt at understanding our minds and how we interact with the world around us”.