The Invention of Consciousness

Bibliographic Collection: 
CARTA-Inspired Publication
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Humphrey, N
Year of Publication: 2017
Journal: Topoi
Date Published: 08/2017
Publication Language: eng

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.

DOI: 10.1007/s11245-017-9498-0