The Centre for Consciousness was created within the School of Philosophy in 2004. Its focus is the philosophy of consciousness and the philosophy of mind more generally.
Philosophers in this subfield ask and develop answers to foundational questions about consciousness and related phenomena that their colleagues in related fields in the sciences and humanities tend to leave aside, e.g.:
- The place of consciousness in the natural world – for example, is consciousness something that can fit into the natural world as it is described by contemporary science, and if not, how should it best be understood?
- What marks a mental or psychological state as conscious in the first place; for example, is it the fact that you are aware of being in the state?
- How do conscious mental states relate to other phenomena of philosophical and scientific interest, such as rationality, morality, knowledge, free will, and personal identity?
The method is typical of analytic philosophy: heavy use of reasoning and argument, meta-analysis of relevant scientific results, detailed investigation and comparative analysis of theoretical possibilities.
Philosophy of mind is arguably the area in which Australian philosophy has made its largest impact, and it has been a major strength of ANU philosophy in particular. Researchers like J.J.C. Smart, Frank Jackson, Martin Davies, David Chalmers, and Daniel Stoljar are all internationally renowned for this.