Susan Pockett is Honorary Research Fellow in the Psychology Department at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. Her work is currently involved in testing the hypothesis that conscious sensations (aka qualia) are brain-generated, roughly brain-sized, spatiotemporal electromagnetic patterns (a theory developed independently but concurrent with Johnjoe McFadden's Cemi field theory). This hypothesis, together with a considerable amount of empirical evidence which already exists to support it, answers to some commonly advanced objections to its plausibility and some material on its implications, and is laid out in her book published in 2000, called The Nature of Consciousness: A Hypothesis. Pockett has also published articles in The Journal of Consciousness Studies, including one detailing Difficulties with the Electromagnetic Field Theory of Consciousness. In another, Does Consciousness Cause Behavior?, Pockett argues for the plausibility of considering consciousness as an epiphenomenon of neural activity. This means that consciousness, though caused by the brain, would not in its turn have any role in the causation of neural activity and, consequently, of behaviour. Critical for her argument is the distinction she makes between 'consciousness per se' and 'the neural processing that accompanies it'. In her discussion, the author begs the question concerning whether there really is such 'consciousness itself, as distinct from the neural processing that goes with it'. If consciousness as it exists happens not to be distinct from some sort of neural processing, then Pockett's 'consciousness per se' has no causal effect simply because it does not exist.
- Susan Pockett's University of Auckland home page
- Electromagnetic theories of consciousness Wikipedia page
- Gilbert Gomes critique of Pockett's Does Consciousness Cause Behavior?
Susan Pockett Quotes
The essence of the present hypothesis can be stated in one sentence. It is that consciousness is identical with certain spatiotemporal pattens in the [brain's] electromagnetic field.
Let us consider the act of speaking. All commentators who argue for the importance and efficacy of consciousness agree that one of the main features of human life for which consciousness is absolutely required is the production of language. But Velmans (2002) puts forward a number or arguments and pieces of evidence to the effect that one becomes conscious of what one wants to say only after one has said it. Writing is just an extension of speaking. It is certainly my direct experience at this moment that the finger movements I am making in typing these words are not directed consciously. More controversally, but still (I aver) definitely, it is my current experience that the undeniably hard work involved in deciding what words to type in this situation is also happening preconsciously. Certainly I could not type this paper if I were completely unconscious. However it seems to me a genuine possibility that this is simply because the nervous system state necessary for actions such as typing is also a state which involves the generation of conscious sensations. This does not necessarily imply a causal relationship between the conscious sensations and the production of words. I know what I think only when I see what I write.