The Hard Problem
This list is very incomplete, since I gave up maintaining the page
soon after the book came out.
- Review by Andy Clark, New Scientist, August 23, 1997.
"Chalmers' distinction, and his bold assertion that a resolution of
the hard problem may require a radical revision in our notions of the physical
world, set the agenda for this fine volume of papers. Among the various
views and responses presented in this clear and well-organized book, four
main camps emerge." ... "Explaining Consciousness
is a fine volume that quickly takes the reader to the heart of the issues.
But we still need to unravel the conceptual, methodological, and psychological
threads that the hard/easy distinction threatens to fuse together. And
this may yet prove to be the hardest problem of all."
[Clark's four camps are: deny the problem, ordinary science
will solve the problem, we can never solve the problem, we need new fundamental
prnciples. He seems most sympathetic to the second, suggesting that the
feeling of an explanatory gap may fade over time.]
- Review by Oliver Lemon, Philosophy in Review, 1998.
"The problem of explaining how qualia could arise in any physical
system at all, is, according to David Chalmers in the penetrating keynote
article of this compendium, the 'hard problem' of consciousness. The `easy
problems' of consciousness are those of the structural and functional aspects
of cognition, which are in principle amenable to conventional scientific
theory. The hard problem is not a new one - Chalmers' role has been to
highlight it - but it is now being approached seriously by physicists,
cognitive scientists, philosophers, and neuroscientists." ... "This
is a challenging and comprehensive volume, offering new directions for
philosophy of mind, neuroscience, and cognitive science, and is heartily
recommended. It is also an engaging read - an intellectual adventure at
the heart of the issues."
[A thoughtful overview of the book with comments on a number
of the approaches. Lemon suggests following up ideas based in information
theory by collaboration with researchers working on the semantic theory
by Stevan Harnad, Trends in Cognitive Science,
"Chalmers is right: the hard problem is indeed that of explaining
why and how it feels like something to be conscious. I'll say that
again, backwards: If we were unconscious zombies, but otherwise identical
to the way we are now in deed, word, and (unconscious) thought, then the
hard problem of consciousness would vanish, leaving only the "easy
problems" of reverse-engineering our remarkable capacity for thought,
word and deed (including, just to set your scale: chess playing, novel
writing, and "worrying" -- unconsciously, but verbally -- about
the hard and easy problems of consciousness). "
[Harnad is generally sympathetic with my view, and takes
issue with those of Dennett and Churchland. He doesn't mind fundamental
laws connecting physics and consciousness, but is worried about panpsychism
(which is particularly problematic for a vegetarian who doesn't like eating