Consciousness - the warm-up!
Of all the crazy and spendthrift things I've done, this has to be the craziest. In the middle of an economic recession, in the same week I had to pay my taxes, I've flown to San Antonio, Texas, to see an event on consciousness. Because I think it's important. And because I'm crazy and clearly want 2011 to be the year I finally declare bankruptcy.
The question is this: can humans train themselves to become more conscious and morally autonomous? If so, how? And how can we test and prove that they have become more conscious? This is the critical question, it seems to me, for our civilization, and indeed for any civilization. It's also the critical question for anyone who wants to put the ethical claims of ancient philosophy on a firmer evidence base, as I do.
The event is tomorrow morning. Speakers include Roy Baumeister, the pre-eminent psychologist in the field of human agency, moral choice and self-control; and his nemesis, John Bargh, the pre-eminent psychologist in the field of unconsciousness and automaticity. I'm excited. Broke, but excited. Hope it was worth the flight.