In February of 1996 an Invitation was extended to friends and to attendees at the weekly physics colloquium at Sonoma State University to form a study group. A Book List was suggested and a first presentation offered. The Invitation is reproduced below.

People responded and meetings ensued.

An Invitation

I am gathering together a small study group: people who would find it interesting to explore the topic: Implications of Natural Process. The group would meet for, say, two hours, perhaps, once or twice a month. A member will report on a book (or article) that s'he has undertaken to read and the group will discuss it. A scattering of relevant books are:

Dennett, Daniel C. "Consciousness Explained" 1991 Little, Brown Boston
Weinberg, Steven "Dreams of a Final Theory" 1992 Pantheon N.Y.
Gell-Mann, Murray "Quark and the Jaguar" 1994 W. H. Freeman N.Y.
de Duve, Christian "Vital Dust" 1995 Basic Books N.Y.
McCulloch, Warren "Embodiments of Mind" 1965 MIT Press Cambridge, MA
Penrose, Roger "The Emperor's New Mind" 1989 Oxford U. Press Oxford
Edelman, G. "The Remembered Present. ." 1989 Basic Books N.Y.
Dennett, Daniel C. "The Intentional Stance" 1987 MIT Press Cambridge, MA
Dawkins, Richard "The Blind Watchmaker" 1986 Norton N.Y.
Minsky, Marvin "The Society of Mind" 1985 Simon/Schuster N.Y.
Hofstadter, D. R. & Dennett, D.C. " The Mind's I ..." 1981 Basic Books N.Y.
Gould, S. "The Panda's Thumb" 1980 Norton N.Y.
Dawkins, Richard "The Selfish Gene" 1976 Oxford U. Press Oxford

To initiate the project I offer to report on the book CONSCIOUSNESS EXPLAINED by Daniel C. Dennett, (Little, Brown, Boston, 1991). My report might begin like this:

The quest for natural cause - the expectation of natural process, the disbelief in miracles - might be as old as thought. It is often dated from the Renaissance in Europe beginning with Copernicus, Galileo and Newton. They pushed the heavens away from us by discovering natural process in the sky. Later Darwin made us one with the animals via natural process in biological evolution.

What about consciousness? How can it be dissected as natural process? Dennett claims to do it. Here's what he writes. (page 16)

"In the chapters that follow, I will attempt to explain consciousness. More precisely, I will explain the various phenomena that compose what we call consciousness, showing how they are all physical effects of the brain's activities, how these activities evolved, and how they give rise to illusions about their own powers and properties."

What is the nature of such an explanation? Does Dennett succeed?

We can talk about it.

If you're interested in participating contact me:
email, Marvin Chester

February 22, 1996

September, 2005
Marvin Chester

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