Consciousness and Multisense Realism


What’s it like to be a lobster, or a baby? Can non-living things like software and corporations have experiences or even self-awareness? These questions strike at the baffling issue of consciousness, which we explore in this mind-bending discussion with Craig Weinberg. We decide, among other things, that a falling tree with no one to hear it makes no sound, and light in the forest with no one to see it has no color. We also cover relevant neuroscience cases like synesthesia and blindsight. From this work, Craig emphasizes that consciousness is, yes, still mysterious: ”A creature can detect the information that it needs to function without any of this magical ‘experience’.” Listen in for some ideas on how the magic happens, including Craig’s theory of Multisense Realism. To learn more from Craig, check out his blogs at and

Download the podcast here.

Also, Craig was gracious enough to flesh out some key topics we hit (in order). Here they are:

Awareness of awareness
Color qualia
Sapir-Whorf, language and color
Layered protocols
Bent pencil example (why naive realism isn’t as naive as it seems)
Mind-Body dualism & paradox
Artificial Intelligence
Quorum Sensing
assembled parts and divided wholes
Information and sense
Symbol grounding problem
Complexity and consciousness
Consciousness as accident, emergence, perceptual bias
Significance of potential and similarity
Intuiting truth and evolutionary obligation
Space, time, and consciousness
Panpsychism and sense
Who, why, what, how
scale & frequency
Fly story (perceptual relativism)
Big bang
Randomness and symmetry

  • Christopher Holvenstot

    Great interview, Jose and Craig! I am always impressed when people can talk about complex issues with clarity and brevity, and (re. discussing consciousness in particular) without resorting to the overt philosophical questioning of the context of the questions as a way of evading difficult questions, etc. Bravo.

    • Jose Drost-Lopez

      Thanks Chris. So where do you stand? Is consciousness a fundamental fact of the universe, or an accidental byproduct?

      • Christopher Holvenstot

        I just came back to re-listen to this great interview and found your query from last month. In answer: I feel we will be able to understand the consciousness of matter and/or the cosmos only after gaining a foothold on what it is to be conscious as a living thing. I feel that living things have a particular ‘take’, a specific use of consciousness that distorts our objectivity regarding the consciousness of non-living (or non-organic) systems. The imperative to find nutrition, self-protect, and procreate compel specific uses of awareness and intention in living systems and we take these uses to be something about the world out there. We take the manifestation of projected meanings for granted. We are very caught up in these supposedly ‘out there’ uses of consciousness (dimensionality, linear time, causality, etc.) in a way that is not so simple to step aside from in the way we step aside from subjective perspectives when we empirically approach an analysis of substances and deterministic forces, etc. that arise post-perception. In short, I do think consciousness is fundamental, but its qualities and characteristics will have to be sorted out with a different sort of logic than that with which we approach the post-perception sciences. As always, there is more to say than will fit into a comment blurb.

        Thank you for your great work, so enthusiastic and clear-headed. Bravo.


        • Jose Drost-Lopez

          Thanks, Chris, for your insights and encouragement. “Post-perception sciences”–that’s a phrase I want to take for a spin!

  • Lexie

    incredible interview. like Christopher above, i’m so impressed by the way Craig distills insights into little bitesize bits. I’m a long time friend and collaborator of Craig’s in other areas and it’s wild to realize how much I agree about topics we never touch on.

    Jose, I’m new to your show but will def be tuning in again. Do you always tackle these topics? It would be great if you could break these big areas down and have a series where you and Craig dig into some of them in more detail.

  • Craig Weinberg

    Thank you! I had a great time. Jose is a natural radio host and we both seem to share a strong interest in consciousness, so it make it easier for me as a first timer.

  • Mark Peaty

    This is a great interview!
    I came here, for first time ever because somebody posted a link to psychtalkradio on the FaceBook Consciousness group.

    I was most impressed by Craig’s succinct description of:
    the brain is “the meaty end of the mind”
    “the mind is feeling an experience through time and the brain is the location of objects across space”;
    “it’s a kind of perpendicular ontology.”

    That all ties in nicely with my pet concept for consciousness:
    [] is what it is like to be the updating of [my brain's] model of self in the world. I refer to this as UMSITW [pronounced "um-see-two"].
    I do not feel it necessary to go along with Craig’s apparent assertion that ‘sense’ is something /mysteriously?/ intrinsic to the universe however.

    My hunch is that “existence” or, more likely I think, existences are the irreducible something or others that we will never know because, and this may be just twaddle or maybe mindbending insight, we can deduce the bare facts of our own existence, of a universe, and of intrinsic differences, but everything else we say or do is just guesswork of which some is falsifiable by experiment and thus good science.
    I have decided that there are existences [plural] which are not nothing but which simply are not the same as each other. I think the ‘universe’ we talk of and some people experiment with, is made of the boundaries where these existences meet. IE the ‘surfaces’ at which the existences recognise and mutually exlude each other. Those ‘surfaces’, for want of a better word, are what constitute dimensions for us. Amen [so to speak]

    I try to rabbit on about this periodically on the Facebook Consciousness group run by Robert Karl Stonjek. Strangely, some people there are sceptical about my assertions for some reason :)

  • Joe Isuzu

    Your questions and comments were much more informative than your guests conflated answers.

    • Jose Drost-Lopez

      I’m guessing he would disagree!