Peter Hankins is author of the superb Conscious Entities weblog, a cornucopia of insightful and entertaining thoughts about human cognition.
Hankins studied philosophy at University College London until graduating in 1979. Some time later, on hearing John Searle's Reith Lectures, he thought that it should be possible to straighten out this business of consciousness with a couple of short essays, and he set up a web page to do it. Seven years later Conscious Entities is going strong and the plot continues to thicken. Of his weblog he writes:
These pages are devoted to short discussions of some of the major thinkers and theories about consciousness. The selection of topics is idiosyncratic and there are still some regrettable omissions. The pieces are meant to be brief and lively,and written from a distinct point of view (sometimes more than one point of view), and this naturally makes it difficult at times to do full justice to the views or the people under consideration. But no-one is mentioned here who I do not sincerely respect and admire, however much I may think they are mistaken on some points. Clearly the only way to get a full understanding of what someone is saying is to read their own books or papers, a course I heartily recommend.
I hope, in any case, that you find something here interesting or amusing. Criticisms, suggestions, and queries about the site will be attended to as quickly as my amateurism, restricted intelligence, incompetence, sloth, and generally bad attitude to work and customer service permit.
- Peter Hankins on Machines Like Us
- Peter Hankins' Conscious Entities weblog
- Peter Hankins articles on Machines Like Us
Peter Hankins Quotes
My car may be referred to as the lump of metal in the drive, my prime means of transport, and my chief contribution to global warming, and it has slightly different properties in each case. But once understood, this sort of thing is not normally felt to be the kind of issue we need to lie awake at night fretting over.
My personal inclination is to think that personhood resides in the single place where consciousness gives rise to agency, and that the animal (to describe myself in those unflattering terms) has, qua animal, a purely supporting role in that crucial process.