John R. Searle is the Slusser Professor of Philosophy at 
the University of California, Berkeley. His most recent book is ­Making the Social World.
 (October 2014)


What Your Computer Can’t Know

René Magritte: Birth of the Idol, 1926

The 4th Revolution: How the Infosphere Is Reshaping Human Reality

by Luciano Floridi

Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies

by Nick Bostrom
We are all beneficiaries of the revolution in computation and information technology—for example, I write this review using devices unimaginable when I was an undergraduate—but there remain enormous philosophical confusions about the correct interpretation of the technology. For example, one routinely reads that in exactly the same sense in which …

Can Information Theory Explain Consciousness?

Tristan Tzara: Self-Portrait, 1928

Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist

by Christof Koch
The problem of consciousness remains with us. What exactly is it and why is it still with us? The single most important question is: How exactly do neurobiological processes in the brain cause human and animal consciousness? Related problems are: How exactly is consciousness realized in the brain? That is, …

The Mystery of Consciousness Continues

Odilon Redon: Closed Eyes, 1890; from the exhibition ‘Odilon Redon: The Prince of Dreams, 1840–1916,’ at the Grand Palais, Paris, March 23–June 20, 2011, and the Musée Fabre, Montpellier, July 7–October 16, 2011

Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain

by Antonio Damasio
What exactly is consciousness? There are a number of senses of the word in ordinary speech, but there is one that is most important for philosophy and science: consciousness consists of qualitative, subjective states of feeling or sentience or awareness. These typically begin when we awake from a dreamless sleep and they go on until we fall asleep again or otherwise become unconscious. Dreams are a form of consciousness. Consciousness, in short, is a matter of the qualitative experiences that we have. To understand qualitativeness, think of the difference between drinking beer, listening to music, and thinking about your income tax. Each experience has a distinct quality.