Jan. 26, 2009 A team of University of Hertfordshire philosophers lead by Professor Paul Coates and Dr Sam Coleman is conducting a three-year research project to explore conscious experiences that contemporary science still cannot explain.
Funded with £380,000 from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and involving the collaboration of some of the world’s leading philosophers and cognitive scientists, the project will attempt to answer the mystery of consciousness.
Professor Coates explains: “When we see a sunset or hear a symphony our sense organs, brains and bodies are moved in ways that are well understood by the physical and biological sciences. But during such experiences we also enjoy distinctive forms of conscious awareness. Yet this undeniable fact about our conscious lives is stubbornly resistant to scientific understanding. How is it even possible for purely physical brain activity to produce conscious experience? How do the qualities that manifest themselves in experience relate to the very different properties that are referred to in scientific descriptions of the physical world?”
To find the answers to these questions Professor Coates and Dr Coleman and their team will re-examine our fundamental concepts relating to consciousness and physical reality. They will look at experimental results in psychology and brain science and at phenomenology and other forms of philosophical enquiry.
The team will also include Professor Shaun Gallagher, Philosophy, University of Hertfordshire and Professor Tony Marcel, Psychology, University of Hertfordshire.
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