Skeptical Inquirer 25 (2):22-27 (2001)
Consciousness is a hot topic. Relegated to the fringes of science for most of the twentieth century, the question of consciousness only crept back to legitimacy with the collapse of behaviourism in the 1960s and 1970s, and only recently became an acceptable term for psychologists to use. Now many neuroscientists talk enthusiastically about the nature of consciousness, there are societies and regular conferences, and some say that consciousness is the greatest challenge for twenty-first century science. Although confusion abounds, there is at least some agreement that at the heart of the problem lies the question of subjectivity - or what it’s like for _me_. As philosopher Thomas Nagel (1974) put it when he asked his famous question "What is it like to be a bat?" - if there is something it is like _for the bat_ then we can say that the bat is conscious. This is what we mean by consciousness - consciousness is private and subjective and this is why it is so difficult to understand
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