Intelligence is not Artificial Thinking about Thought:
The Nature of Consciousness
Synthesis: Poems and Meditations Support this website

Consciousness, Cognition and Life
piero scaruffi

My book on Consciousness | Book reviews | My website | My e-mail | About me

Research Interests:
A History of Knowledge
A Timeline of Neuroscience
A Timeline of Artificial Intelligence
A Timeline of Computing
A Timeline of Modern Science
Independent Workshops
Classics of Psychology
Thinking about Thought - The Structure of Life and the Meaning of Matter. Published in 2015, basically the reader for the class that i taught for many years at UC Berkeley.
Intelligence is not Artificial. My attempt to demystify A.I.: we do need A.I., unfortunately A.I. has made very little progress in its first 60 years (which is also why it cannot be dangerous).
Annotated Bibliography on the Mind. Started when i was at Stanford in 1995 and periodically updated with new book reviews.
Reviews of science/tech books
Neuroscience news
My opinion pieces
LASERs - Art/Science Evenings in San Francisco
Seminar on The Nature of Mind, which i have been teaching on and off at UC Berkeley since the mid 1990s.
Seminar on History of Knowledge, which i have been teaching on and off at UC Berkeley since 1998.
Audio Interviews
Slide presentation: "Artificial Intelligence: History and Status "
Logos Lectures. A series of casual lectures from 2006-07.
"Human 2.0 The Technologies of the Future"
Assorted presentations, ranging from Cognitive Science to Silicon Valley.
Register to my mailing list. Every three months or so, I send out news and updates on cognitive science and the likes, reviews of books, announcement of conferences, and the status of my book.
A simple theory of consciousness
On the relationship between Quantum Theory and Relativity Theory
Statement of work (2007)
Statement of work (2005)
Statement of work (2000)
Research statement (1995)
Academic Biography
Academic Resume
Recent reviews: "The Evolution of the Sensitive Soul" (2019)
"The Story of the Human Body" (2013)
"Life 3.0" (2017)
"To Be a Machine" (2017)

  • On the relationship between Quantum Theory and Relativity Theory
  • Language as a neural process
  • Consciousness as multi-track evolution
  • A reductionist explanation of the self
  • The experimental study of consciousness
  • Free Will and Identity
  • Truth
  • Emotions
  • Quantum Consciousness
  • Dreaming
  • Endosymbiosis
  • Artificial Creativity
  • The multi-track evolution of Mind
  • The History of Art: a biological and cognitive perspective
  • Personal Research Statement:

  • The very fundamental idea of my research is that the mental cannot be reduced to the physical and that somehow the property that, under special circumstances, enables a particular configuration of matter (e.g., the brain) to exhibit "consciousness" must be present in all matter, starting from the most fundamental constituents.

  • I think that cognition is a property of all living organisms that comes in (continous) degrees. Memory and learning can be said to be ubiquitous in nature, as long as we assume that they come in degrees.

  • There are striking similarities between the behavior of cognitive (living) matter and the behavior of non-cognitive (dead) matter (a piece of paper that is repeatedly bent will tend to "remember" of having been bent by "staying" bent).

  • The "degrees of cognition" that we find ubiquitous in nature can be expressed in the formalism of Fuzzy Logic, but modern physics is built on Quantum Mechanics, which is built on the Theory of Probabilities. A possible starting point for reconciling biological and physical sciences, i.e. for unifying Cognitive Science and Physics, would thus be to replace probabilities with Fuzzy Logic in Quantum Mechanics.
  • Books

    Thinking about Thought - Vol 1-4 (Amazon, 2015)
    • Vol1 Brain - ISBN-13: 978-1503361065
    • Vol2 Life - ISBN-13: 978-1503362000
    • Vol3 Matter - ISBN-13: 978-1503362079
    • Vol4 Consciousness - ISBN-13: 978-1503362161

    A History of Silicon Valley - almost a third edition (Amazon, 2014) ISBN: 978-1-5002622-2-8
    Intelligence is not Artificial (Omniware, 2015) ISBN: 978-0-9765531-9-9
    A Visual History of the Visual Arts (Free ebook)
    A Brief History of Knowledge (Amazon eBook, 2011) ISBN: 978-1500526658
    Synthesis. Essays, Photographs, Poems (Omniware, 2009) ISBN: 978-0-9765531-7-5
    A History of Rock and Dance Music Vol 2 (Omniware, 2009) ISBN: 978-0-9765531-6-8
    A History of Rock and Dance Music Vol 1 (Omniware, 2009) ISBN: 978-0-9765531-5-1
    A History of Jazz Music 1900-2000 (Omniware, 2007) ISBN: 978-0-9765531-3-7
    A History of Popular Music (Omniware, 2007) ISBN 978-0-9765531-2-0
    Dialogue of the Lovers - Poems (Lacaita, 1998)

    What is Thymos?

    Greek thought evolved an intriguing division of mental life into two souls, the Thymos (pron: "theemos") and the Psyche.

    • The Thymos pertains to the active soul, what we today refer to thought, consciousness, awareness, etc. It was associated with breath, heart and liver. Breath was identified with soul, as in most ancient systems of philosophy (the Hindu "atman" comes from the word for "breathing") and with language (breath is what you need to utter sounds). Liver was reputed to be the origin of emotions (there must have been painful liver diseases at the time :-). The heart was considered the seat of desires and intentions.
    • The Psyche is the immanent soul, independent from the body, a precursor of the eternal soul of Christianity that survives the body in the other world.
    It appears that this was a very ancient belief, predating civilizations, as the same distinction can be found in most ancient cultures: in Egypt there were the ba and ka, in China the p'o and hun, in Judaism the nephesh and the ruach, in Buddhism the kama-manas and the buddhi-manas, in Zoroastrianism the daena and the urvan. Countless esoteric beliefs, all derived from ancient theosophies, distinguish between an active entity (alaya-vijnana, karana-sarira) and a passive entity (manas, suksma-sarira). Interestingly, the concept was abolished by Christianity but resurfaced in Islam (the ruh and the nafs).

    In ancient Greece the Thymos became the active, rational and mortal part of the person (the part that has control over the body), while the Psyche became the quiescent and immortal part of the person.

    The Thymos became a core concept of Socrates' philosophy. In Socrates' theology the doctrine of Thymos is a meditation on the history of philosophy from Homer to Socrates himself, by which Socrates hails the passage from unconscious philosophizing to rational self-consciousness. Interestingly, Socrates warned against the dangers of self-awareness. He warned that consciousness would cost us greatly, both in terms of desire to live and in terms of our harmony with nature. In Plato's late dialogues this contradiction has a happy ending, as Socrates finds in conscious thought the meaning of life itself.

    Platonic philosophy elevated the Thymos above the Psyche. The Psyche is viewed as a sort of lower mind that can connect with either a higher mind (nous), that a Christian may perhaps interpret as God, or with the Thymos, that a Christian cannot interpret because it has no correspondent. Thymos is the cause of anger and passion. In a sense, it is opposite of meditation.

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