Dr. Riccardo Manzotti (IULM/UAE University)
Date: 19th March 2018 (Monday)
Time: 2.00pm - 4.00pm,
Venue: Government Innovation Lab (Crescent Building)
If one adopts a physical stance, consciousness must be either physical or nothing at all. As a result, a viable explanatory strategy has been represented by mind-body or mind-brain identity. So far, though, mind-body identity has failed on empirical ground – no neural process akin to conscious experience has ever been found (pace Tononi & Koch). Such a repeated failure has led many to consider alternative strategies that, it may be argued, do not match when do not explicitly conflict with science. I believe it is fair to maintain that up to now there are no working physical accounts of intentionality, representation, phenomenal character, and the like. In this talk, I will reconsider and defend a new identity theory that will focus on mind-object identity rather than on mind-brain identity. Objects are as physical as body/brains and there is no a priori reasons we should not do so (pace Kim, Block, Chalmers, Crick). More precisely, I will maintain that one’s conscious experience of an object is the object one experiences. For example, when I perceive a red apple on the table, the hypothesis is that my conscious experience of the red apple and the red apple on the table are one and the same. Why should the identity between apple-experience and apples be less respectable that the identity between the apple-experience and neural process? For the sake of the argument, I will preliminarily stay in the safe zone of veridical perception: I perceive a thing and the thing is there to be perceived. Eventually, I would weaken such a condition and I will take a walk on the wild side of dreams and hallucinations and misperception. In order to defend this view, two key notions that flesh out our view of the physical world will be revisited: the notion of object and that of (t)here/now.
Riccardo Manzotti has a PhD in Robotics and degrees in The Philosophy of Mind and Computer Science. He teaches Psychology of Perception at IULM University, Milan (Italy), and has been a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at MIT. He has specialized in AI, artificial vision, perception, and, most of all, the issue of consciousness. After working in the field of artificial vision, he focused his research on the nature of phenomenal experience, how it emerges from physical processes and how it is related to objected perceived. His book The Spread Mind has been published in November 2017.
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