Philosophers discuss theories of the human mind at symposium

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    The Ronald E. Moore symposium titled “Consciousness,” hosted 10 international renowned philosophers to discuss the human mind and consciousness.

    It began Thursday afternoon and concluded Saturday evening in the Dee J. Kelly Alumni & Visitor Center. The symposium was free and open to the public. 

    According to Associate Professor of Philosophy and Department Chair Blake Hestir, TCU alumnus Ronald Moore has been a major supporter of the arts and liberal arts at TCU.

    Assistant Professor of Philosophy Richard Hine said, “Consciousness is now a huge topic in philosophy.” He added, “ I would argue that it is one of the most fundamental issues that we have intellectually to talk about.”

    Hine said that none of the other pressing issues we might face today such as water shortages, civil wars or diseases would exist if we weren’t aware of others and ourselves.

    “There is really an important sense in which the most fundamental question concerning human existence is own consciousness,” he said.

    He also stated that consciousness could be split up into two problems: the easy problem and the hard problem.

    – The easy problem: Trying to explain how consciousness arises from particular brain states, and the want to isolate these certain functions of the brain and show how they correlate to certain conscious experiences.

    – The hard problem: why should there be any such thing as consciousness in the first place?

    The three-day symposium consisted of theories addressing the hard problem. Speakers ranged from theorists with a philosophical stance on the topic to speakers presenting empirical evidence.

    “[The symposium] hopes to show people the absolute cutting edge of philosophical and empirical investigations into consciousness,” Hine said. “This is a great thing for TCU and the wider community, showing that we can bring world class philosophers to TCU and show people how to think more clearly.”