The Moscow Center for Consciousness Studies arranged an interview with Hilary Putnam on April 21, 2010. The interview was conducted by Vadim Vasilyev and Dmitry Volkov.
21/04/2010 The interview participants: Mr. Putnem, Mr. Vasilyev, Mr. Volkov.
Dmitriy Volkov (DV): The first question we would like to ask is about the state of analytic tradition in general. In “Realism with the Human Face” you actually wrote that analytic philosophy in your mind is heading in crisis or in crisis already. However there are a lot of books written in analytic tradition and a lot of books especially on the subject of consciousness. What is your perception of the state of analytic philosophy nowadays?
Hilary Putnam (HP): I think we may be coming out of the other side of the crisis. I think it’s beginning to open up. People are changing their views, people are more uncertain about their views, more possibilities are being tried out, especially in the area of philosophy of mind and philosophy of consciousness. I know for example that Jerry Fodor and I are used to regard each other very much as on opposite sides, but in many ways our views have converged through the years. Like me he is giving up hard functionalism. Now I call myself non-reductive functionalist or liberal functionalist. I believe that mental states are world-involving or environment-involving functional states; I call them functional states with long arms. In a sense I wanted to make clear that my rejection of functionalism is only rejection of computing machine functionalism where mental states are solved by literary programs. But Fodor also endorses the idea that I give. Namely that psychological states and especially intentional states are computationally plastic and multiply realizable in terms of programs, not only in terms of hardware. And that’s a very important point on which we converge. Of course we disagree in some things, like when he says under heavy influence of Quine that “There are no such things as meanings” and I say “There are, but identity and difference of meanings is a matter of interpretation”. I think metaphysically there is such thing as right/wrong interpretation and I’m sure that in practice Jerry think that too. When he tries to speak French and his French is not very good I’m sure that he tries to get translation and the meaning right. So we look on the facts in not totally dissimilar way. It’s not just a matter of Fodor opening his views, he’s still like me – changing his mind and trying different things. I think that, as other analytic philosophers wrote, the years when analytic philosophy got all the answers are now behind us. Jerry even wrote the book in which he argued that we should give up the term “analytic philosophy”. I don’t give up that term but I think that dissatisfaction with the idea of analytic philosophy that was a position with respect to science, rejecting an idea of sharp line between philosophy and science that, I hope, will continue, just like in one of the fields I work – area of consciousness and perception. In 1994 I wrote a book, main point of which was an idea that we must see what was right in naive realism. Far from being a point of disagreement among philosophers of perception now it is a majority’s view. The difference is in how to do it and what constitutes going too far in the direction of naive realist go. The idea that we went too far is not new. I mean that Russell was a great philosopher but he went too far in rejecting naive realism so he came upon an idea that none of our perceptions is in public space – everything that we perceive is recorded in some private space. So I think we’re seeing more continuity between the analytic philosophy and so called “non-analytic” philosophy. There’s still people in a habit of assuming that everything listed not in analytic philosophy is not a philosophy at all and there is similar all time resolve on the other side. But I think it will pass soon.
DV: You said that analytic philosophy is against the short boundary between science and philosophy. And in the chapter of the book that you sent us you’re also saying that perhaps now is the time for science of consciousness. Does that mean that in fact the philosophical work – the preparatory work for science of consciousness is already completed, and now there is the moment for empirical science to take over research and work out the details?
HP: It have to be not. When I use the term “science” I use it in a very wide sense in which John Dewey used it. So social science and linguistics is a science and so on. Not in the sense when something is a science only when it resembles physics. In one of my volumes called “The Idea of Science” I told that since the age of Francis Bacon we’ve been torn between two different images of science. One image is that something that has some sort of methodological verge – some rules which Habermas call “discourse”. Something that allows questions and objections to be raised, plus it’s something with fallibilistic nature. We have a wide methodological notion of science as anything that satisfies certain epistemological criterion which better be wide. And on the other hand there’s idea that it is only a science if it resembles physics. I despair of ever ceasing to be the case that we have two different and, in a way, incompatible images of science. So that’s why I think that in philosophy the question “Is something really science?” is useless. Second, I think when philosophical questions are concerned about the structure of something just like physics then when study of mind and brain will take off it will also be through there. In the history of physics great conceptual questions were always discussed in each generation by both at least some philosophers and some physicists – Newton’s “Principia” is full of philosophy. People forget that a lot of “Principia” is philosophical arguments totally demolishing Cartesian physics. Newton shows by careful analysis of Cartesian physics that it presupposes notions that it can give no account of. For example a space in itself is some sort of material, in which even a notion of a direction in space is one to which Cartesian theory entitles. This is analytic philosophy and it’s analytic philosophy at its best. I think there is an overemphasis on just a few philosophical ideas of Newton – his criticism of Leibniz’s relativity. And one doesn’t look on an enormous amount of philosophical analysis in “Principia”. I was shocked many years ago when a physicist said to me that Kant was the greatest astrophysicist in a hundred-year period. And I asked “Why do you say that? You talk about Kant-Lagrange hypothesis?” He said “No, that was only a hypothesis. Kant showed by a very eloquent geometrical argument that we live near the edge of landscape galaxy in the center of the sphere that resembles Andromeda nebula”. I never heard of that, no philosopher told me that, no historian of philosophy told me that, an astronomer told me that! It was Stephen Weinberg; he then said that Kant was the only astrophysicist in about a hundred years who believed that star clustering could be accounted for by gravitation alone. Einstein was a friend of my supervisor Hans Reichenbach, and because of that I’ve actually got to meet Einstein. When I was appointed to Princeton being 27 years old, I was introduced to Einstein by Reichenbach. We had a philosophical discussion about quantum mechanics! So I think that first of all science is a philosophical question. The idea of what scientists do is collecting empirical data and using a hypothetical deductive method which really isn’t method at all! What we’re doing in science and philosophy of science at its best is trying to being both conceptual analysis and new scientific ideas to bear on age-old problems. And that will continue.
Vadim Vasilyev (VV): Let’s return to the beginnings – your beginnings. Please tell us about origins of your functionalism. How did you come to the idea that consciousness is something like a program?
HP: In 1953 I took a place as a philosopher of science and logician in Princeton, where I taught basic symbolic logic course for juniors and seniors. In this middle-level course I told them about post-canonical systems that are a very equivalent to Turing machines. I was teaching students in philosophy about programming before there were really computers in the world outside the few laboratories! My field in mathematics in those years was a recursion theory and decision problems, so I didn’t think about philosophy of mind apart from the things I mentioned. I was concerned to refute an argument called “a grain argument”. It’s formulated like this: “When I look at the sky, the blue color I see have a different grain and it’s continuous, apart from processes in the brain that aren’t continuous. Therefore the qualia of blue – the phenomenal character of my perception of the sky – cannot be identical with anything in the brain”. That was a popular argument, but it seemed to me one silly argument, that any other knowledge argument in particular (I didn’t know that name yet) when I learn what something feels like, when I actually experience red as opposed to having been told that there’s such a color and maybe told it’s physics, there’s some knowledge I have and therefore there’s some irreducible phenomenal knowledge and then there’s step when it can’t be knowledge about anything physical. I used to think about Turing machines and it seemed to me that Turing machine can give us the same arguments. What argument really turns on is the difference between knowing about something by exemplifying it oneself and knowing about it by having a theoretical description – that’s an inevitable dualism (if it’s a dualism). And even if it’s a kind of dualism then that’s a dualism that materialists should be able to live with. And then I got an invitation from Sydney Hook to talk at the conference on minds and brains in 1960. And that’s when I wrote “Minds and Machines” which I was building on my mathematical expertise which was in Turing machines. I developed esteem that Turing machines could be a model of the mind further. I didn’t definitely advocated it in “Minds and Machines” like it was a possibility. And afterward I advocated for three number of years .
VV: But can you clarify your views about the identity theory? Can you agree with it?
HP: One thing I believe that what happens in analytic philosophy because of the attention to one kind of logic, basically the logic of Russel and Whitehead. The idea of property became fused with the idea of a concept. Russel actually had a third notion – a notion of propositional function which shortly disappeared. One of hobbies of my life was classical philosophy. Alas, I didn’t study Latin very much but I’ve studied Greek and I’ve read Greek philosophy in the original. It struck me that for Aristotle for example universals were not concepts. Since I was teaching the philosophy of physics in Princeton it also struck me. When a physicist discovers that light is electromagnetic radiation he hasn’t discovered the identity of two concepts but he has discovered the universal he knew in one way as electromagnetic radiation is identical with a universal we are acquainted in a different way, so there is such a thing as synthetic identity of properties. And then I came to see that if we going to defend the idea that mental states could be identical with brain states – which I still think may be the case with qualia – Ned Block has convinced me, and I think I said it even in “Reason, Truth and History” in a chapter “Mind and Brain” that the qualitative aspect of experience may well be identical with something in the brain. And it seems shocking because we were acquainted with our old mental qualities by exemplifying them ourselves – this is the question of the knowledge argument again. And whereas any complicated brain state that we ever describe in neural science we’d be acquainted with by a theoretical description. But it’s a philosophical prejudice inherited from logic that didn’t distinguished between physical magnitude and concepts that can’t be identical. So I do believe that there is such thing as theoretical identity of properties. I wrote a paper called “On Properties” in which I defended that, and I still believe that otherwise you just forced to all kinds of dualism simply because you have to say wherever there’s two concepts there’s two properties and I think that’s a bad metaphysics.
VV: Let’s suppose that qulia are indeed identical with some other brain processes. Do you think it is possible to verify this identity or it makes no sense asking about verification?
HP: I think much verification in science is holistic the successive explanatory picture over time, I would hardly say what’s verified now. But for example some Ned Block’s papers actually make hypothesis about which brain processes qualia may be identical with, and he gives reasons: if you have a picture which unifies both phenomenal logical data and the data which is coming in from brain science, that would seem to be a strong argument for seeing that might be true. Block’s papers convinced me that it’s right but I would add one thing – the real problem for me was qualia in the way it was raised by John McDowell. John McDowell denies the qualia because he thinks that we directly observe the properties of external things. He’s a little ambiguous about that, but secondly, he thinks that what I would call qualitative perceptions are themselves conceptualized. His book “Mind and World” that was published sixteen years ago is a great book because it raised questions that I was thinking about for all these sixteen years – about relation between concepts, percepts and external things. It seems to me that he identifies experiences with qualia, which I think is a mistake. Once you identified experiences with qualia, saying that experiences and sensations are the same thing, then you must say that experiences are tribunal before which judgments have to stand. That translates into “sensations or qualia are tribunal before which experiences have to stand”. And then you have the problem that bothered Russel in 1909 – how can I get from my qualia which are my only evidence to anything outside? I think so stated, the problem is unsolvable. There is a very useful distinction between Kantian skepticism and Humian skepticism. Hume assumes that of course our ideas are right or wrong and arguing “How do we know that they are right?”, he concludes that we cannot know that they are right. But Kant asked: “How do we know that our ideas of external things are really ideas of anything and not just an empty play of mental forms?”. In a sense that could undercut even the Humian skepticism – Hume could not be skeptical enough if Kant is right. And again, if you think that ideas of external things are the same as qualia or even if they are not be same as qualia but somehow they are to be justified solely by qualia then I think that picture means that Kantian skeptic is right, which means that we’ve done wrong somewhere.
VV: You said that having a functional organization of the kind humans typically have is all that needed for human consciousness and that the familiar objections like zombie argument fail to convince you. Why does zombie argument fail to convince you? Is it because, as you once claimed, you believe that conceivability doesn’t entail possibility?
HP: Exactly. Even people who think that conceivability does entail possibility want it both ways. They want some cases but not the right kind of conceivability. I don’t understand how can you tell which is right kind of conceivability. There’s a sense in which until Ferma’s last theorem was proved, I could have conceived that Ferma’s last theorem was false if I were unable to understand the proposition that Ferma’s last theorem might be false. Let me take another case – there is a hypothesis called “P cause NP” in computer science – if program can be solved by a Turing machine (If an infinite class of yes-no questions can be answered by a Turing machine), which we call a “question being”, if it’s decidable in polynomial time then it could be solved in exponential time. There were some discussions about equality of P and NP, but now some people including me say that we simply don’t know. My first paper on that in which I presented something that is now called a “Davis-Putnam-Lovelin algorithm for theorem proving by machine” that grew out on attempt to prove in present day terminology that P does equal NP. What we were hoping for was a polynomial time algorithm for a deciding whether an arbitrary propositional calculus is a tautology. Since I worked on both sides of this question – I tried to prove that P does equal NP and that P does not equal NP and have not gotten anywhere either. Other mathematical question I worked on both sides was a Quine’s system in “New Foundations” – me and my students have gotten nowhere on that. In some sense in those cases we understand that one of those two propositions must be mathematically false, in fact there must be a proof that it is logically false. But there is some sense in which you can understand propositions mathematically false well enough to try to prove that they are mathematically false – you know what it is. So, at least in mathematics, conceivability does not entail possibility. Some say if something is conceivable and not logically contradictory then it’s possible. I want to say: “Why do you think that?”. That seems to be a totally rich world of possibilities – it’s (I using Kripke’s term) collapsing of categories of metaphysical possibility and logical possibility, and I don’t believe that they collapse.
VV: But what about zombie? Can you conceive zombie or not?
HP: I think the notion is incoherent. Then again, from much the kind of argument that Sol Kripke gives in “Naming and Necessity”: if you ask before we have thermodynamics: “Can you conceive that heat is nothing to do with molecular motion and it’s just a fluid?”. I think Kripke and I would say that in one sense you can, but not in the sense that implies that it’s really possible, because after you understand that a property of having a certain temperature is synthetically identical with a property of having a molecular-kinetic energy being so and so, then when you imagine a world in which say there’s no molecules but some things are hot to the touch, then people are talking about different phenomena – you haven’t conceived a world where heat have nothing to do with molecular-kinetic energy, you’re just imagined a world in which word “temperature” and our mental associations with it all correspond entirely to a different entity entirely. When I say that having human consciousness just is having a sufficiently human functional organization I mean that I can say that commander Data from Star Trek was conscious, but I could not say that his qualia were the same as ours, because I think we can’t imagine commander Data’s qualia – I agree with Sydney Shaw in that matter – having qualia is a functional state but the qualia themselves are not. My best hypothesis is they are physical states.
DV: The phenomena you were describing like the functional organization are accessible through the third person perspective, so they have objective access. But qualia seem to have an irreducible subjectivity. Do you see any problem in the privacy of experiential phenomena?
HP: I still stand on what I wrote in “Minds and Machines” that the same subjectivity would apply to robots too. For a logical reason there is a difference between exemplifying the state oneself and having a description of it – that would apply to robots too.
VV: But is that all? Is there nothing different in robots and humans except this difference between two kinds of states – the description and the actual states?
HP: Well, yes. There is a paper I wrote called “Robots: Machines or Artificially Created Life?”. It is one of my early papers one section in which is called “Civil Rights for Robots”. If there will ever be an intelligent robots I hope that they will build a statue to me.
VV: But what is the difference between your position and the position of David Chalmers? Can you tell us about your relations with him?
HP: I haven’t discussed this issues about his position, and don’t want to discuss it from memory.
DV: And what about Dennett? What you were saying about intentionality and the way intentionality connects to its environment, do you think that Dennett’s theory of intentional systems is close to your position?
HP: A lot of what he said I would agree with but I think that his account on reference is open to millions of counterexamples. I think that he does not have a plausible or robust account on what reference is and I am and always was a scientific realist – I believe that our terms refer. I mean that he doesn’t want to bite the bullet – his position, as he said, was strongly influenced by Ryle and Quine, but I think Quine gradually got the upper hand because basically like Quine Dennett’s position (that always seemed a weird position to me) is that words refer to things only relative to interpretation or relative to the translation scheme. Now I think that he’s willing to go all the way to Quine. At a certain point Dennett asks himself “Is that what I’m saying?” when he says “There is this much objectivity” – sometimes the patterns correspond. That’s only a metaphor. Fodor, if you like, has the opposite view – he goes too much in the direction of giving up an intentional meaning but then says “Yes, but there is an objective notion of reference”. Dennett, like Quine I think, hangs on to the intentional meaning as the opposite to Fodor, but he is very soft on reference to the point where you don’t think that he really has an account on reference. And I am trying to say that words do have intentional meanings. I agree that thy are also a matter of interpretation and they are not sharp. But Quine says “No object or entity is without identity”. My answer is “Look, I know physics and Quine only gestures at physics”. Quine didn’t really know physics. And even in physics I can show that there is no perfectly sharp identity. There is no precise definition of one second for example! We redefine what a second is every few years but it is not a precise notion. If you say “The only notions we can take seriously in analytic philosophy are perfectly precise notions” I would say that outside pure mathematics there aren’t any, and maybe not even there!
VV: Let us discuss reference, externalism, your famous claim that “the meanings are not in the head” and of course your “Twin Earth” thought experiment. In your papers “Meaning and Reference” and “Meaning of «Meaning»”, where your “Twin Earth” was presented, you argued that intension of the term doesn’t determine its extension, so in 1750 an intension of the term “water” was the same on Earth and on Twin Earth but their extensions were different because on Earth this term meant “H2O” while on Twin Earth it meant “XYZ”. It means that if somebody from our planet had visited Twin Earth in 1750 and called that liquid “water” he would make a mistake. If that is not a mistake then the extension of the term “water” was much wider than you suggested. My question is: why such a visitor from Earth in 1750 would not make a mistake using the term “person”, for example?
HP: I will tell about my modified example. Some people have raised an objection that after all our bodies contain water and not XYZ. As we understand a notion of a “person”, I don’t think being a person requires having same kind of body. But there is a problem here because I wanted them to have same kind of brains we do and the same brain states, so their brains would have contained H2O and not XYZ. So here is a modification of “Twin Earth” thought experiment. I think I used this in my paper “Meaning Holism in Philosophy of W.V.V Quine”. You could imagine that Twin Earth’s water is actually a mixture of grain alcohol. In this example Twin Earth’s water doesn’t even tastes the same to us, but it would taste to them the way water tastes to us, just to bring out that it was not essential to “Twin Earth” argument. Maybe it was an anticipation of Ned Block’s “Inverted Earth” argument. So in my revised version water is really intoxicating on Twin Earth, but people there are evolved so that alcohol couldn’t reach their brain. Their brains and bodies are like ours but there is some protective filter in the bloodstream which takes alcohol out of the blood so they are not drunk all the time. Now in that case there will be no question from our point of view that Twin Earth’s water is not water at all. We wouldn’t even mistake it for water! Nevertheless it would still be the case that their brains will be in a states relevant to linguistic processing when they use their word “water”. And those states will be like our states when we use this word, assuming we have an early stage where there is no accurate thermometers yet. Originally when thermometers first came in they weren’t calibrated, they didn’t agree one with another and the people didn’t know what’s the boiling point of the water is unique. Actually, we don’t have a perfect definition of water today even in terms of the quantum mechanic. Water is uniquely definable by its microscopic properties, there is no other chemical compound with that boiling point and that freezing point. So we are on the early stage where they couldn’t tell water from the certain mixtures. Even today we can imagine that somewhere in chemistry there is some liquid that is tasteless and colorless but doesn’t support life – one such liquid for example is heavy water. If you drink only heavy water after about a few months you will die, but a mixture of 50% water and 50% heavy water will support life. So one could mistake such liquid for water until you tell him that it’s a mixture of water and something else. So the point of “Twin Earth” argument is that it’s robust and it doesn’t depend on science fiction – it could be made scientifically realistic.
VV: Let’s continue our discussion about water. It seems that you believed that while we can conceive that water is not H2O, still water is necessarily H2O, and you agree here with Kripke.
HP: Well, It’s necessarily approximately true that it’s H2O. Believing that all we have is approximately true, of course.
VV: But it seems that you don’t consider this proposition (“water is H2O”) as analytic. But how can you prove that proposition “water is H2O” is not analytic in our language community?
HP: I don’t understand the notion of “analytic” unless you restrict it to very trivial examples like “all bachelors are unmarried” or “all vixens are foxes”. I think there is something linguistically special about this very small class. Noam Chomsky once said to me “I think there is only three hundred such words in the language”. It’s when the philosophers try to expand the notion of “analytic” that they got in a lot of trouble. And that begins very early – an expansion and a fact of getting in trouble. But I think Locke for example claimed that this term was a “verbal truths”, as we would now call it, involving any concept. It was a very interesting claim. I’ve had a discussion with Sol Kripke many years ago in which I said “Well, could it turn out that tigers are glass bottles?” – that was my modification of Locke’s example. Sol applied some of his own ideas in modal logic and answered “You haven’t shown that it’s conceivable that tigers are glass bottles but you have shown that it’s conceivable that it can become conceivable”. But in any case these examples doesn’t show something as analytic in the way as “bachelors are all unmarried” and “all vixens are foxes”. Once you go externalist, you get a line of suspicion about a notion of “analytic” and then you understand that this notion cannot do any work in philosophy at all.
VV: Now let’s discuss your another famous thought experiment “Brains in a Vat”. According to you if we were brains in a vat then we could not correctly say “We are brains in a vat” because our words refer to illusions, not real things. And in a world of illusions we are not brains in a vat, hence that proposition would be necessarily false, and this means that while our existence as brains in a vat doesn’t contradict natural laws, it’s impossible all the same. But when we dream we exist in a world of illusions which we mistook for real things, however sometimes while in a dream some people can realize that they are dreaming and then they say to themselves “We are dreaming, we are brains in a bed”, and this is a true proposition. So what is the difference between propositions “We are brains in a vat” and “We are brains in a bed”? And why one of them is necessarily false and another could be true?
HP: There is a lot of background to this. First of all, I don’t say that all brains in a vats are inconceivable, for example my argument does not exclude the following possibility: I am envatted tomorrow without knowing it. Or maybe all human beings are envatted tomorrow without knowing it. We still have concepts because our words have acquired certain external reference already, and the mere fact that I am deceived in where I am doesn’t deprive my words from their present reference. So in a sense my argument doesn’t really give us much comfort as it may seem because someone who may worry that he is being envatted after acquiring some public language – French, English or Russian cannot say that “Putnam has shown that that’s not possible, I don’t like that”. I’m only excluding something which is really a version of Descartes’ possibility that the whole “show” never was as I imagine – it’s a Matrix in there. And the dream case is like the case of being envatted yesterday – my words have acquired sense and reference and they keep that sense and reference even if I am dreaming, so that would be the answer to your question. A little bit of background may interest you. Descartes’ “Evil Demon” argument shows that he is no Aristotelian. Aristotle’s concepts are forms because I think that the distinction in concepts and properties is post-medieval and certainly post-Aristotelian. The concepts are universals in particular which not line up with modern predicate philosophy. But Aristotle’s forms have to be acquired from things which have them, at least in the basic cases. So Aristotle if you like is a kind of externalist. Descartes however is convinced that even if there were no external things, say if I was a disembodied spirit, I could still conceive of them. Descartes imagined that we are, in my jargon, semantically omnipotent – semantic power was not restricted by our physical nature or the nature of our environment. That’s Platonic but not Aristotelian attitude. Hume of course had an easy way out. He could say “Yes, when I think about it Berkeley is right. If I’d thought about it I would have to be a Berkelean idealist, but when I don’t think about it I ignore that”. Hume has what I would call a pictorial semantics – for Hume ideas are pictures and reference is simply a matter of resemblance. A problem that many empirical philosophers liked Hume’s conclusions but they ignored that fact entirely – the conclusions were made by appealing to semantic theory which is now bankrupt. We have this kind of opposition: Descartes that says that what we can conceive have nothing to do with what exists or being coupled to what exists – semantic omnipotence; Hume: we are restricted to what we can picture, we can only conceive of what we can picture. And here and there Hume admits that this doesn’t quite work, and basically says “We’ll ignore that”. So the question of semantic powers goes back to the beginnings of philosophy – Aristotle versus Plato. And I am on Aristotelian side.
VV: Very short personal question. In Wikipedia it is said that you have played a small role in “Mulholland Drive” by David Lynch.
HP: I don’t know this film, but I am credited on the website of “The Matrix”.
VV: Maybe you can say some words about your life? Do you live a philosophical life?
HP: I was politically very active, sometimes wisely, sometimes unwisely, but I was a very strong opponent of Vietnam war, which I’m still proud of. But if I take my life as a whole I would say that I have a marvelous wife and children and they are a huge part of my life, but intellectually I would say that I have lived a philosophically-mathematical life. I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to be mathematician or philosopher in college and in the end I was lucky to have both careers, which may be a greatest blessing of my life. I think if I will be remembered in the future, say in hundred years, I will most likely be remembered for my mathematical work then for philosophical, but that doesn’t bother me.
VV&DV: Thank you very much for this wonderful interview, we’ll definitely send you a copy of this. And thank you very much for your time!
HP: Well, I almost felt like I could reach across and put in a cup of coffee. Dosvidanya!
The interview is transcribed by Grigory Egorov, Moscow State University
In this interview, Chalmers answer our tricky questions about how he came to philosophy, what is his current views on the nature of consciousness, whether zombies can be morally responsible, how the Universe is arranged, what would it mean – the creation of artificial intelligence, and what is the purpose of philosophy.
Derk Pereboom claims that free will is impossible because of its incompatibility with both determinism and indeterminism. Also he defends a robust nonreductive physicalism. It says that although consciousness can’t be reduced to physical it’s not something over and above physical.
We’ve made a video story about amazing intellectual event – the summer school “Free will and Consciousness”, which our Center held in Riga this July. In that video you’ll find impressions and thoughts of participants on the topic of the summer school and great views of Riga. Soon we are going to publish the rest materials of the school. Follow the news!
“I am often asked: What is a person engaged in philosophy for? I have a lot of answers!” Interview with co-director of MCCS Dmitry Volkov to the “Otkritij gorod” magazine and the Freecity.lv web-portal.
“Riga has become a place of attraction of philosophical minds — it’s the first time the city hosts an International school of philosophy.” Freecity.lv about the “Free Will and Consciousness” Summer School that was held by MCCS.
June 11-24 we held a summer school “Free will and consciousness” in Riga. Here you’ll find a report about this event written by Anton Kuznetsov
In the interview to the Snob co-director of our Center Dmitry Volkov talks about Pokemon in our heads, personal identity, augmented reality and the amazing work of the brain. Read more
There is absolutely absurd misconception that, they say, the philosophers are boring, self-absorbed people. But it’s nonsense. They have so sophisticated brain that allows them to make amazing things. Read more