Blindsight: A strange neurological condition that could help explain consciousness

Imagine being completely blind but still being able to see. Does that sound impossible? Well, it happens. A few years ago, a man (let's call him Barry) suffered two strokes in quick succession. As a result, Barry was completely blind, and he walked with a stick. One day, some psychologists placed Barry in a corridor full of obstacles like boxes and chairs. They took away his walking stick and told him to walk down the corridor. The result of this simple experiment would prove dramatic for our understanding of consciousness. Barry was able to navigate around the obstacles without tripping over a single one. Barry has blindsight, an extremely rare condition that is as paradoxical as it sounds. People with blindsight consistently deny awareness of items in front of them, but they are capable of amazing feats, which demonstrate that,...

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SOTT FOCUS: MindMatters: The Ideal And Value of Beauty

From time to time we are struck with something we may deem "beautiful". We see a work of art, a landscape, or a face that speaks to an almost ephemeral ideal which demands our attention, acknowledgement and contemplation. But why does this occur? What is it that we, as individuals, are perceiving as beautiful? And what exactly is beauty anyway? In exploring this largely taken for granted dimension to human experience we ask: What place should it hold in our lives, and what value do we hold for it - and it for us? This week on MindMatters we explore and expand on some common conceptions of things beautiful - from the mundane to the sublime. And we see how noticing and arranging things to be beautiful can be an invocation of our greatest ideals and values. In a time...

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