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Must-Watch Video: The Difficulty of Explaining Consciousness in Evolutionary Terms

David Klinghoffer


Here’s a fascinating video in which Australian philosopher of mind David Chalmers discusses the utter superfluity — from an evolutionary perspective — of consciousness. His point is that as far as natural selection is concerned, we could have evolved as highly effective automata or zombies, operating strictly on instinct without the phenomenally rich gift of being conscious of ourselves added to that.
There’s nothing about consciousness, as compared to the zombie model, that gives a creature an additional benefit in passing along its genetic legacy to descendants. In that sense consciousness is superfluous and therefore devilishly hard to explain as a product of unguided evolution. Where then did it come from?

David Klinghoffer

Senior Fellow and Editor, Evolution News
David Klinghoffer is a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute and the editor of Evolution News & Science Today, the daily voice of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, reporting on intelligent design, evolution, and the intersection of science and culture. Klinghoffer is also the author of six books, a former senior editor and literary editor at National Review magazine, and has written for the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Seattle Times, Commentary, and other publications. Born in Santa Monica, California, he graduated from Brown University in 1987 with an A.B. magna cum laude in comparative literature and religious studies. David lives near Seattle, Washington, with his wife and children.

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