Monthly Archives: November 2016

Open University Branch of the Royal Institute of Philosophy

Dr Henry Taylor (Cambridge University): What Can Zombies Teach Us About Consciousness?
Where: Newnham Terrace Seminar Room, Darwin College, Cambridge (enter by the main door on Silver Street).
When: 5.00pm to 7.00pm, Monday 5th December.

Entry is free and open to everybody.

For all enquires, email Derek Matravers (

Consciousness is simultaneously the most intimate, and the most mysterious aspect of our lives. In one sense, we know a lot about consciousness because we are conscious beings. We know what it’s like to look at a beautiful sunset, to have a dream, to think about politics, to taste a lemon tart, or to listen to music. These are all elements of our conscious lives that we are intimately familiar with, and we know a lot about consciousness from a first person point of view.
In another sense, we know almost nothing about consciousness. We have no idea where it comes from, which animals have it, how it is related to the brain, and whether or not it is part of the normal physical world.
In this lecture, Dr Taylor will outline the phenomenon of consciousness, and why it has struck so many as so mysterious. Then he will look at the famous ‘zombie’ argument, which aims to show that consciousness is not a physical phenomenon. He will also suggest some ways we might make progress about this issue in the future.


Award for OU documentary

A documentary film commissioned jointly by the Open University and the BBC, and for which Derek Matravers was Academic Adviser, has won the Best Documentary on a Contemporary Theme (Domestic) at the prestigious Grierson Trust awards. The jury chair described How To Die: Simon’s Choice as ‘a deeply moving’ film that made ‘a valuable contribution to the debates surrounding these big issues’. The film was shown on BBC2 earlier this year.