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The invention of consciousness

Humphrey, Nicholas (2017) The invention of consciousness. Topoi. ISSN 0167-7411

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Identification Number: 10.1007/s11245-017-9498-0


In English we use the word “invention” in two ways. First, to mean a new device or process developed by experimentation, and designed to fulfill a practical goal. Second, to mean a mental fabrication, especially a falsehood, designed to please or persuade. In this paper I argue that human consciousness is an invention in both respects. First, it is a cognitive faculty, evolved by natural selection, designed to help us make sense of ourselves and our surroundings. But then, second, it is a fantasy, conjured up by the brain, designed to change the value we place on our existence.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2017 The Author © CC BY 4.0
Divisions: Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Date Deposited: 09 Jun 2017 12:10
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 00:24

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