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Dreamers, Visionaries, and Revolutionaries in the Life Sciences$
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Oren Harman and Michael R. Dietrich

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226569871

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226570075.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 28 July 2021

Francis Crick and the Problem of Consciousness

Francis Crick and the Problem of Consciousness

(p.227) 14 Francis Crick and the Problem of Consciousness
Dreamers, Visionaries, and Revolutionaries in the Life Sciences

Rick Grush

University of Chicago Press

As the sciences of physics and chemistry progressed through the 19th and into the 20th Century, two major phenomena remained mysterious. The first was life, and it was the rise of molecular biology – one of whose important architects was Francis Crick – that ultimately demystified it. The final mystery is consciousness, and it is emblematic of Crick’s intellectual proclivities that he dove headlong into that thicket. This chapter focuses on two features of Crick’s turn to the problem of consciousness. The first is what best qualifies Crick as a visionary with respect to this subject, which is that he was willing and able to marshal a broad range of methodological approaches to the investigation, rather than being blinkered by a small set of familiar methodologies . The second is what best qualifies him as a dreamer, namely, the fact that when he began this investigation into the physical basis of consciousness, the topic was not popular with the relevant scientific communities. Here I will examine how an idea that seemed beyond the scope of science to many biologists, was rendered a part of “normal science”, even as the visionary intervention itself was problematically received and ultimately superseded.

Keywords:   Francis Crick, consciousness, physics, chemistry, biology

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