“Sometimes, we have to completely let go of intuitions that are actually giving us false information about reality.”
What is consciousness? How does it arise? And why does it exist?
We take ‘experience' for granted. But the very existence of consciousness raises profound questions: Why would any collection of matter in the universe be conscious? How are we able to think about this? And why should we?
Our guide for today's philosophic and scientific exploration of these mysteries is Annaka Harris.
An editor and consultant for science writers specializing in neuroscience and physics, Annaka is the author of the children's book I Wonder, a collaborator on the Mindful Games Activity Cards, by Susan Kaiser Greenland, and a volunteer mindfulness teacher for the Inner Kids organization.
Annaka's work has appeared in The New York Times and all of her guided meditations and lessons for children are available on the Waking Up app, the digital meditation platform created by her husband Sam Harris — the renown author, public intellectual, blogger, and podcast host.
Annaka’s latest book — which recently hit the New York Times bestseller list and provides the focus for today’s conversation — is entitled, Conscious: A Brief Guide to the Fundamental Mystery of the Mind. A must-read for any and all curious about one of the Universe's great mysteries, it's a brief yet mind-bending read that challenges our assumptions about the nature, origin and purpose of consciousness.
Equal parts nerdy and fun, this is a deeply profound conversation that tackles the very nature of consciousness itself — and what it means to be a living being having ‘an experience'.
We discuss how Annaka became interested in this field and the path undertaken to writing this book.
Parsing instinct from scientific fact, we deconstruct our assumptions about consciousness and grapple with its essential nature — what is consciousness exactly? And where does it physically reside?
We discuss meditation and artificial intelligence. We dive into plant consciousness. We explore panpsychism (a theory I quite fancy). And we muse about the role of spirituality in scientific inquiry.
All told, this tackles the current limits of science and human understanding and leaves us wondering, is it possible to truly understand everything?
An intellectual delight from start to finish, I thoroughly enjoyed talking to Annaka and I sincerely hope you enjoy the listen.
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