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ConsciousnessCreeping up on the hard problem$
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Jeffrey Gray

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780198520917

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198520917.001.0001

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Taking physics seriously

Taking physics seriously

(p.233) Chapter 16 Taking physics seriously

Jeffrey Gray

Oxford University Press

This chapter shows that the Hameroff–Penrose theory of how different quantum superpositions in microtubules in different brain areas give rise to different qualia must rely for the origin of these differences on arguments taken from neuroanatomy and neurophysiology. And, despite its intricate Gothic architecture, the theory is incomplete. It offers no account of how differences at the Planck scale might relate to differences between qualia; nor of how differences in space/time in one brain might relate to differences in another brain observing the same scene at the same time. Nonetheless, the theory does offer an account in principle of the origin of differences in qualia. Whether even this is testable in practice is another matter. But quantum mechanics has a habit of taking the absurd, putting it into a laboratory experiment and showing the absurd to be reality. So we should not write the Penrose—Hameroff position off too lightly. And even an account in principle of how qualia might arise is better than no account at all.

Keywords:   consciousness, conscious experience, Gestalt, Penrose–Hameroff theory, qualia, quantum superpositions

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