On HumansFebruary 14, 202400:55:1451.13 MB

36 | How Did Consciousness Evolve? Did It? ~ Eva Jablonka

We are conscious creatures. But why? Why did consciousness evolve? Can we use biology to explain the origins of feeling and meaning? Or will consciousness forever escape the grip of the scientific method? 

Eva Jablonka has thought hard about these issues. An eminent evolutionary biologist, she became famous for her pioneering work on epigenetic inheritance. More recently, she has produced very original work on the evolution of consciousness with her colleague, neuroscientist Simona Ginsburg. So invited him on the show to discuss the evolution of consciousness, or what she beautifully calls "the sensitive soul".

In this episode, we discuss themes such as:

(03:00) What is consciousness? 

(10:45) Four links between evolution and consciousness

(27:30) Are robots conscious? Consciousness and vulnerability

(30:45) Which animals are conscious? Consciousness and the Cambrian Explosion.

(34:30) Can science fully explain consciousness?

(48:00) The future of consciousness

As always, we end with Jablonka’s reflections on humanity.


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Books: Evolution of the Sensitive Soul, Picturing the Mind (both my Eva Jablonka & Simona Ginsburg)

Terms: Sensitive soul, phenomenal consciousness, intentionality (i.e. "aboutness"), the Cambrian explosion, cephalopods, anthropods, vertebrates

Names: Aristotle, Simona Ginsburg, Jonathan Birch, Antonio Damasio