Paul Thagard: Consciousness, Unity, and Interplay | Sero Boost #36

In this episode, host Lu Ngo is joined by Paul Thagard who is a notable philosopher, cognitive scientist, and author

Join Paul Thagard in this episode as he talks about the enigmatic realm of consciousness, unveiling its mysteries through his vast expertise in philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, and computer modeling. Brace yourself for a thought-provoking discussion that unravels the emergence of consciousness, its connection to the mind, and the fascinating interplay between various cognitive processes.

Meet Paul Thagard

Paul Thagard is a philosopher, cognitive scientist, and author known for his interdisciplinary approach. He served as Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Waterloo and founded and directed the Cognitive Science Program there.

Paul’s academic journey has included degrees from prestigious universities, including the Universities of Saskatchewan, Cambridge, Toronto (PhD in philosophy), and Michigan (MS in computer science). His exceptional contributions have earned him fellowships in esteemed organizations such as the Royal Society of Canada, the Cognitive Science Society, and the Association for Psychological Science.

Throughout his illustrious career, Paul has been honored with numerous accolades, including the distinguished Molson Prize in 2007 and the esteemed Killam Prize in 2013, both bestowed upon him by the Canada Council. His influential works span a wide range of titles, including The Cognitive Science of Science: Explanation, Discovery, and Conceptual Change (MIT Press, 2012), The Brain and the Meaning of Life (Princeton University Press, 2010), Hot Thought: Mechanisms and Applications of Emotional Cognition (MIT Press, 2006), and Mind: Introduction to Cognitive Science (MIT Press, 1996; second edition, 2005).

As an exciting addition to his literary repertoire, Paul eagerly anticipates the forthcoming publication of his book titled “Falsehoods Fly: Why Misinformation Spreads and How to Stop It,” scheduled to be released by Columbia University Press in 2024.

About the episode

In this episode, Paul talks about the complexity of defining consciousness. Examples were provided, such as sensory experiences, internal sensations, emotions, and abstract self-awareness. Awareness is important as a fundamental aspect of consciousness. Consciousness involves active engagement with experiences rather than passive reception.

Key recommendations from the podcast discussion include starting small with mindfulness meditation, prioritizing face-to-face social interactions, reading literary fiction, and engaging in acts of service. These activities aim to promote well-being and personal growth by fostering empathy, deeper connections, and self-reflection.

Starting with short daily mindfulness practices, such as 5 minutes of focused breathing, can provide guidance and support through apps like the Mindfulness app. Face-to-face interactions with friends and family offer richer communication and emotional connection compared to social media interactions.

Expanding reading habits to include literary fiction can enhance empathy skills by focusing on character development, enabling a better understanding of others’ experiences and perspectives. Engaging in acts of kindness and helping others has been shown to increase happiness, shifting the focus from personal goals to improving the lives of others.

Being mindful of screen time and balancing it with activities promoting well-being, like nature walks or hobbies, can help maintain a healthy lifestyle. Self-reflective practices such as journaling, therapy, or contemplative reading aid in understanding emotions, gaining insights and fostering personal growth.

In conclusion

Prepare to have your mind expanded as you dig into the captivating world of consciousness, emotions, empathy, and psychology in this intriguing episode. Paul Thagard’s wisdom and insights shed light on the importance of self-reflection, meaningful relationships, and acts of kindness in promoting personal well-being.

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