Body, Brain, and Consciousness

Why do “I” experience life? Who is this “I”, the self? Is she real? Is consciousness possible without this sense of self? Is consciousness important, a lasting feature of the universe? Or is consciousness a failed evolutionary experiment?

Conversations on consciousness can be laden with magical language, borderline mystical and meaningless. Yet biologists and neuroscientists seek a concrete, scientific understanding of it. Consciousness emerged from a continuum of increasingly complex biological systems. Some scientists hypothesize that living beings evolved a schema of self, the ability to direct attention, and then a self-aware consciousness. Humans place themselves at the end of this evolutionary progression, but is this misguided? Scientists struggle to see through their own mind’s tricks, striving for the rewards of greater understanding, and a more profound connection with nature.

Pioneer Works Director of Sciences, Janna Levin, hosts neuroscientists Anil Seth and Joseph LeDoux to discuss consciousness, and how to see ourselves as less apart from, and more a part of, the rest of nature.

Scientific Controversies brings together two scientists in conversation to explore unsolved quandaries. The focus is on ideas and the unknown, the precipice between where we are now and where we imagine the future will bring us.