This selection from a recently updated edition of a classic work by Paul Churchland considers such questions as the nature of mental states and processes, in what medium they take place, how they are related to the physical world, whether consciousness survives the disintegration of the physical body, and if a purely physical system such as a computer could enjoy real conscious experience.
Competitive video and computer game play is nothing new; what is new in the world of digital gaming is the emergence of professional computer game play. This BIT explores how a form of play becomes a sport, with professional players, agents, referees, leagues, tournaments, sponsorships, and spectators.
This BIT offers an excerpt from a foundational work of cognitive science—considered one of the most important and influential books ever published by the MIT Press—that outlines a theory of the development of specifically human higher mental functions.
Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe. An invisible, tasteless, colorless gas, it can be converted to nonpolluting, zero-emission, renewable energy. In this BIT, Peter Hoffmann makes the case for hydrogen as the cornerstone of a new energy economy, offering a history of the technology from the nineteenth century to the present and introducing the concept of “hydricity.”
During the past three decades, neurology researcher James Austin (author of Zen and the Brain) has been at the cutting edge of both Zen and neuroscience, constantly discovering new examples of how these two large fields each illuminate the other. In this BIT, Austin discusses how meditation trains our attention, reprogramming it toward subtle forms of awareness that are more openly mindful. He reveals many subtleties in our networks of attention.
The architect and critic Jeremy Till offers a proposal for rescuing architects from themselves: a way to bridge the gap between what architecture actually is and what architects want it to be. In this BIT, Till discusses how to allow time into architecture, transcending false notions of eternity and the eternal now.
Mark Balaguer argues that the question of libertarian free will reduces to a question about indeterminacy—in particular, to a straightforward empirical question about whether certain neural events in our heads are causally undetermined in a certain specific way. In this BIT, refuting arguments both for and against determinism, Balaguer shows that the question of whether human beings possess libertarian free will is a wide-open empirical question.
What do we know about our inner life, our stream of conscious experience? In this BIT, Eric Schwitzgebel investigates some of our singularly inaccurate judgments about conscious experience. He considers unattended stimuli (does unremembered mean unexperienced?) and our visual experience when our eyes are closed.
Voters often make irrational decisions based on inaccurate and irrelevant information. Politicians are often inept, corrupt, or out of touch with the will of the people. This BIT examines how democracy can lead to successful outcomes even when the defining characteristic of democracy, elections, is flawed.