CFS Lecture by Galen Strawson: "Consciousness: The last 100 years"

Galen Strawson is professor at the Department of Philosophy, University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of Freedom and Belief (Oxford 1986), The Secret Connexion: Realism, Causation and David Hume (Oxford 1989), Mental Reality (MIT Press 1994), Selves: An Essay in Revisionary Metaphysics (Oxford, 2009),The Evident Connexion: Mind, Self and David Hume (Oxford, 2011), Locke on personal identity (Princeton 2011). He has been on the scientific advisory board of Center for Subjectivity research since 2002.

There occurred in the twentieth century the most remarkable episode in the history of human thought. A number of thinkers denied the existence of something we know with certainty to exist: consciousness, conscious experience: the subjective qualitative or phenomenological character or being of experiences: the experiential ‘what-it’s-likeness’ of experiences: experience, as I’ll call it. Others held back from the Denial, as I’ll call it, but claimed that it might be true—a claim no less remarkable than the Denial. I want to document some aspects of this episode, with particular reference to the rise of philosophical behaviourism, and the transformation of materialism from a consciousness affirming-view into a consciousness-denying view.