I have Marcello Massimini's 2018 book, and while it is sweetly written, it basically represents the scientific view I like to summarise as "When I think about bicycles, this bit lights up".

You would, I suspect, be astonished to learn that not too long ago I would have used similar words and arguments to those you have used here, and I would wave Massimini's book around and tell people to read it, and be absolutely unshakeable in the sincerity of my belief.

Anyone claiming something else had to be deluded and ignorant. There was no question about it.

This is a topic I have studied in some detail over the years, and I am now convinced that while we might learn a lot more about neuroscience and the systems of thought, we are not going to get to consciousness that way.

I'm happy to be proved wrong, of course, and it would be utterly delightful if we could get some definitive answers on these big and important questions.

Odd that you should mention bistable percepts. I think a paradigm shift akin to Galileo's understanding of celestial mechanics is needed to appreciate consciousness.

I'm not saying I know what it is and kindly hand me my Nobel Prize, but the neuroscientific line of inquiry you support and I once held such faith in looks to me more and more like a clever construction to explain observations, along the lines of epicycles and retrogrades in Kepler's geocentric model.

I am sorry you feel unable to address the points I find far more interesting and rewarding, but what can I say - I was once sitting in that same smug seat. If pressed, I would have chosen Aristotle over Plato.

I have since changed my mind.

Not that Plato is inerrant; he goes on with the most frightful nonsense sometimes, and he sometimes espouses contradictory opinions. But of the two models on offer, I think his holds up best.

Thank you for your time and your gracious attention. You undoubtedly see me as a festering ignorant crackpot and I will seek no more from you, though I will continue to read your stories with keen attention.


Britni Pepper has always enjoyed telling stories. About people, places and pleasures.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store