Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
David Chalmers is a leading philosopher in the area of philosophy of mind. He is Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Center for Consciousness at the Australian National University. Before he moved there in 2004, he was Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Center for Consciousness Studies at the University of Arizona. He studied for his PhD at Indiana University Bloomington under Douglas Hofstadter.
He is best known for his articulation of the hard problem of consciousness in both his book and in the paper "Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness" (originally published in The Journal of Consciousness Studies, 1995). He makes the distinction between easy problems of consciousness (which are, amongst others, things like finding neural correlates of sensation) and the hard problem, which could be stated "why does awareness of sensory information exist at all?" A key to his argument is the distinction between neurological impulses of sensory information and the experience of them (known as qualia in philosophy of mind). He argues for the irreducibility of the experience of awareness to purely physical processes (also known as physicalism). In his argument (as it appears in his book The Conscious Mind) he makes use of the philosophical zombie which is a hypothetical person in all respects identical to a real one, but missing qualia. After the publication of this paper, about 25 papers were published in the Journal of Consciousness Studies in response to the hard problem. These papers (by Daniel Dennett, Colin McGinn, Francisco Varela, Francis Crick, and Roger Penrose amongst others) were collected and published in the book Explaining Consciousness: The Hard Problem.
He has also compiled what could be the largest bibliography on the philosophy of mind and related fields with close to 5000 annotated entries topically organized.
He is also one of the best known philosophers today advocating a viewpoint that is sympathetic with panpsychism (although he does not actively defend it).
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