THERE are a lot of hard problems in the world, but only one of them gets to call itself "the hard problem". And that is the problem of consciousness – how a kilogram or so of nerve cells conjures up the seamless kaleidoscope of sensations, thoughts, memories and emotions that occupy every waking moment.
The intractability of this problem prompted British psychologist Stuart Sutherland’s notorious 1989 observation: "Consciousness is a fascinating but elusive phenomenon… Nothing worth reading has been written on it."
The hard problem remains unsolved. Yet neuroscientists have still made incredible progress understanding consciousness, from the reasons it exists to the problems we have when it doesn’t work properly.
This collection of colloquium papers aims to survey what has been learned about the human “mental machinery” since Darwin's insights. The colloquium brought together leading scientists who have worked on brain and mental traits. Their 16 contributions focus the objective of better understanding human brain processes, their evolution, and their eventual shared mechanisms with other animals. The articles are grouped into three primary sections: current study of the mind/brain relationships; the primate evolutionary continuity; and the human difference: from ethics to aesthetics.
In the light of evolution VII: The human mental machinery Camilo J. Cela-Conde, Raúl Gutiérrez Lombardo, John C. Avise, and Francisco J. Ayala