Consciousness Is Known as the Hard Problem of Neuroscience

The brain is still a mystery, but neuroscientists are shedding light on it at a rapid pace. Scientists have made an impressive number of discoveries about how the brain gives rise to our actions, sensations, and emotions. But there's one question so difficult that philosopher David Chalmers has dubbed it the "Hard Problem of Consciousness" (or the "hard problem," for short): why do any of our mental processes feel like anything? Why do we have an inner life? Why aren't we just meat robots that interact with the world without actually experiencing it?

The "easy problem," by contrast, is all the other stuff we're discovering: what happens in the brain when you feel pain, or meet someone new, or learn to read. A neuroscientist can point to the various nerves and cells and neurotransmitters and tell you more or less exactly what happens in those situations. But they can't tell you what pain really is or explain the experience of getting lost in a story. That's not to say science will never explain consciousness, but as it stands today, the prospect of doing so is beyond comprehension. Get deep into the realm of consciousness with the videos below.

A Neuroscientific Approach To Consciousness

Explore the "hard problem" as explained by the philosopher who coined the term.

How Do We Study Consciousness?

Find out what it means to be conscious, and how scientists even know.

What Is Consciousness?

Professor Nicholas Humphrey explores the baffling conundrum of our inner experience.

Written by Ashley Hamer September 30, 2016

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