The nature of consciousness

Ball, Linden orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-5099-0124, Butler, Laurie T., Sherman, Susan M. and Clair-Thompson, Helen St (2023) The nature of consciousness. In: Cognitive Psychology in a Changing World. Routledge, pp. 525-563. ISBN 9781003145851

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Consciousness is everything you experience during every waking moment of your life. Attempts to understand what consciousness is and how it works represents one of humanity’s biggest questions. The past two decades have witnessed substantial progress in the field, with the study of consciousness having many practical consequences. Achieving a better understanding of consciousness is important for moral, scientific and legal questions including whether animals have consciousness, what happens when people lose consciousness (e.g., following a seizure or coma) and whether computers can ever become self-aware? This chapter considers methods and theories of consciousness, before posing the question ‘What is consciousness for?’. The chapter also explores the extent to which human behaviour is governed by conscious versus unconscious processes, and the limits of free will.

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