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Are We Real? Consciousness and Fiction

In this IPR Public Lecture, Professor Markus Gabriel will discuss fiction as a component of human thought and ideology.

  • 27 Mar 2019, 5.15pm to 27 Mar 2019, 7.00pm GMT
  • Chancellors' Building, 1.12, University of Bath
  • This event is free
Statue of person thinking
Are We Real? Consciousness and Fiction

It is a widespread believe in our contemporary natural scientific culture that central features of our mind are fictions or illusions of sorts. The prominent philosopher Daniel Dennett even claims that illusionism about phenomenal consciousness (our qualitative experience of reality as rich with colors, sounds, tastes, smells, etc.) should be “the obvious default theory of consciousness.”

Remarkably, illusionists about consciousness typically do not offer actual error theories that tell us in what precise sense consciousness counts as a fiction or an illusion. In this lecture, Professor Gabriel will argue that this blind spot is not a coincidence, but rather a consequence of theoretical deficiencies in the hypothesis of illusionism itself.

In his talk, Professor Gabriel will dismantle the assumptions motivating views about ourselves as minded agents that claim that we are subject to some kind of user-illusion created by the brain (or some better specified subsystem of our organism). In this context, he will distinguish various forms of illusion about ourselves and argue that illusionism and fictionalism about the mental lives of humans (and other minded animals) are themselves cases of a thoroughgoing ideological delusion. They serve the function of denying facts that would otherwise lead to an insight into the normative dimension of the human being.

Professor Gabriel's talk will draw on his published works, including his latest book I am Not a Brain, which is published by Polity Press.

Speaker profiles

Professor Dr Markus Gabriel is the Chair for Epistemology, Modern and Contemporary Philosophy and Director of the International Centre for Philosophy at the University of Bonn.

Born in 1980, Gabriel studied Philosophy and Ancient Greek in Bonn and Heidelberg; previous to his current position, he was appointed as Assistant Professor at the New School of Social Research in New York. Gabriel has held visiting professorships at Aarhus University, PUC Porto Alegre, PUC Rio de Janeiro and UC Berkeley. His research interests include epistemology, philosophy of religion and aesthetics, ancient philosophy, Post-Kantian Idealism, contemporary analytical and post-analytical philosophy.

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Chancellors' Building, 1.12 University of Bath Claverton Down Bath BA2 7AY United Kingdom


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