Albert Moukheiber: The difficult problem of consciousness

How to observe what it feels like when we inhale a cup of coffee or when we revisit a place of our childhood? For science, this remains a big challenge.

With the progress of science, we have the impression that everything is within reach, that it is only a matter of time before the inexorable march of knowledge manages to lift the veil on the gray areas. of our universe. However, this is a rather caricatured vision. In cognitive science, the goal of which is to try to understand humans from all angles, there are still subjects for which we are only just beginning to imagine methods of exploration. In these areas, therefore, we are still far from the stage of understanding. This is the case, for example, with the emergence of consciousness. How does organic matter manage to give rise to so-called “emergent” properties far beyond the capacities of each cell, such as being aware of oneself?

This question gave rise to what is called “the difficult problem of consciousness”. We scientists generally proceed in stages: when we dissect a subject, we study the elements that constitute it in order to have a more global understanding. For example, to analyze the movement of an object in space, we study each force impacting matter and we try to predict its trajectory. In general, this method works quite well.

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