Philosophy of mind


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The cleaner wrasse (pictured here accompanying the larger black-and-white snapper) can seemingly recognise itself in a mirror. Photo by Ullstein Bild/Getty

Essay/
Biology
The face of the fish

They’re not cuddly, they don’t behave at all like us – yet they are sentient. Why fish belong in the moral community

Michael Woodruff

Photo courtesy Wellcome Images

Essay/
Neuroscience
Frames of consciousness

Can electrical impulses in the brain explain the stuff that dreams are made on? What a new consciousness-detector reveals

Joel Frohlich

Why did the woman cross the road? Photo by Harry Gruyaert/Magnum

Essay/
Cognition and intelligence
You are the world

Are your decisions made by your brain, or via the experience of the world relative to your body? A dialogue on consciousness

Tim Parks & Riccardo Manzotti

Detail from Self Portrait (1500) by Albrecht Dürer. The text to the right broadly translates as ‘Thus I, Albrecht Dürer from Nuremberg, created myself with characteristic colours at the age of 28 years.’ Courtesy Wikipedia/Alte Pinakothek München

Essay/
Consciousness and altered states
Consciousness is real

Consciousness is neither a spooky mystery nor an illusory belief. It’s a valid and causally efficacious biological reality

Massimo Pigliucci

Photo by Jorge Sanz/SOPA Images/LightRocket Getty

Essay/
Animals and humans
What do mirror tests test?

Chimps, dolphins and elephants pass, dogs and cats don’t. Is the mirror test a reliable mark of self-awareness?

Virginia Morell

Detail of Picture from 8 Sides (1930-6), by Kurt Schwitters; oil and wood relief on panel. Courtesy Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid

Essay/
Consciousness and altered states
The consciousness illusion

Phenomenal consciousness is a fiction written by our brains to help us track the impact that the world makes on us

Keith Frankish

Photo posed by a model. Phillip Suddick/Getty

Essay/
Philosophy of mind
The problem of mindfulness

Mindfulness promotes itself as value-neutral but it is loaded with (troubling) assumptions about the self and the cosmos

Sahanika Ratnayake

Photo by Stephan Vanfleteren/Panos

Essay/
Neuroscience
The interoceptive turn

The science of how we sense ourselves from within, including our bodily states, is creating a radical picture of selfhood

Noga Arikha

Déesse V Nine Goodbye Kisses by Delphine Lebourgeois

Essay/
Cognition and intelligence
Women’s minds matter

Feminists never bought the idea of the computational mind set free from its body. Cognitive science is finally catching up

Sally Davies

Boston Marathon winner Yuki Kawauchi runs to work in his home town of Kuki, Japan. Photograph © Shiho Fukada/The New York Times/Redux/Headpress

Essay/
Philosophy of mind
Thinking on your feet

Don’t just do it, think about it too: how Gilbert Ryle’s philosophy of mind can help athletes teach themselves to improve

Josh Habgood-Coote

Venus works it out. Photo by Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images

Essay/
Philosophy of mind
Do you compute?

We’re certainly on to something when we say the brain is a computer – even if we don’t yet know what exactly we’re on to

Kevin Lande

The Golden Rock at Shwe Pyi Daw, Kyaiktiyo, Burma (now Myanmar), in 1978. According to legend, the rock is balanced on a strand of Buddha’s hair. Photo by Hiroji Kubota/Magnum

Essay/
Philosophy of mind
Buddhism and self-deception

How can I logically manage to deceive myself? Buddhist thought offers a way out of the philosophical paradox

Katie Javanaud

Honeybees (Apis mellifera) in the hive, Würzburg, Germany. Photo by Mark Moffatt/Minden/National Geographic

Essay/
Biology
Bee-brained

Are insects ‘philosophical zombies’ with no inner life? Close attention to their behaviours and moods suggests otherwise

Lars Chittka & Catherine Wilson

Two Philosophers. Original painting of Gregg Caruso and Daniel Dennett by Andrea Ventura.

Essay/
Virtues and vices
Just deserts

Can we be held morally responsible for our actions? Yes, says Daniel Dennett. No, says Gregg Caruso. Reader, you decide

Daniel C Dennett & Gregg D Caruso

Photo by Chris de Bode/Panos

Essay/
History of ideas
A truly African philosophy

‘Consolation philosophy’ understands the human being as a unity of feeling and reason, in a cosmos rich with primal emotion

Ada Agada

Photo by Kieran Dodds/Panos

Essay/
Neuroscience
The theory of mind myth

Even experts can’t predict violence or suicide. Surely we’re kidding ourselves that we can see inside the minds of others

Robert A Burton