Who Is Looking Out: The Mind

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The Free-Energy Principle: A Unified Brain Theory? - Karl Friston. While 20th century neuroscience thought the brain extracts knowledge from sensations, he argues for an inversion by which the brain is an inference machine, minimizing average surprise from sensory experience of the world.

Goedel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid - Douglas Hofstadter. A classic that uses principles like self-reference to show commonalities across consciousness, intelligence, math, music, art, and language and how simple elements can make up “meaning”.

The Illusion of Consciousness - Daniel Dennett. In the TED talk and his 1991 book Consciousness Explained, he discusses a "multiple drafts" model of consciousness, in which there is no central consciousness, but a bundle of agencies that make up the story in which the central character is one's self.

The Mind’s I - Daniel Dennett, Douglas Hofstadter. An oldie but goldie.

Panpsychism & Protopanpsychism - David Chalmers. Contra Dennett, panpsychism is the idea that all things have a mind-like quality. Chalmers also wrote Moving Forward on the Problem of Consciousness, an updated take on his “hard problem of consciousness”.

On Possible Minds: Philosophy and AI - a conversation between Chalmers and Dennett, covering their disagreements about consciousness and what this means for AI. The comments even bring in Friston to differentiate the implications for AI, something that was taken on as well by this Wired article on Friston and AI. 

Anomalous Monism - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. A mind-body problem concept developed by Donald Davidson in Mental Events that attempts to reconcile the contradiction that mental events cannot be predicted by strict laws but seem to causally interact with predictable physical events.

What it’s Like to Be A Bat - Thomas Nagel. A contest classic that asserts that “an organism has conscious mental states if and only if there is something that it is like to be that organism", doubting whether those phenomenological features of a subjective experience can be known by others.

Waking Up - Sam Harris. A book on mind and meditation. His podcast Making Sense with Sam Harris discusses a variety of topics, with worthwhile episodes including Looking for the Self, Mindfulness Meditation, The After On Interview, The Future of Intelligence, Landscapes of Mind, The Dawn of Artificial Intelligence, Finding our Way in the Cosmos, Surviving the Cosmos, The Multiverse & You (& You, & You), Drugs & The Meaning of Life, Culture & Biology.

REBUS and the Anarchic Brain: Toward a Unified Model of Brain Action of Psychedelics - Robin Carhart-Harris, Karl Friston. Combining Friston’s work on free energy with recent studies on psychedelics to explain their therapeutic effect. Also a shorter summary by the SSC Journal Club.

How To Change Your Mind - Michael Pollan. A mainstream-compatible perspective on the benefits of psychedelics.

David Pearce on Understanding Psychedelics - Milan Griffes. An Effective Altruism post on the role of psychedelics in consciousness research. Also: Cash prizes for the best arguments against psychedelics being an EA cause area to solicit objections against making psychedelic research part of EA.

The Book Against the Taboo of Knowing Who You Are - Alan Watts. A Hindu-inspired account of personal identity.

Doors of Perception - Aldous Huxley. Autobiographical book on Huxley’s psychedelic experiences.

The Ego Tunnel - Thomas Metzinger. About consciousness, the sense of self, and whether it exists.

Shulgin Archive - A research archive on psychedelics.

Ten Percent Happier - Podcast. Science-focused interviews and exercises on meditation.

Qualia Research Institute - A non-profit using philosophy and neuroscience to improve neurotechnology.

MAPS - A non-profit that develops medical, legal, and cultural contexts to benefit from psychedelics.

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