David Chalmers (left) and Christof Koch met on 23 June in New York City to settle up their bet. Credit: Jesse Winter for Nature

David Chalmers (left) and Christof Koch met on 23 June in New York City to settle up their bet. Copyright Credit: Jesse – Winter for Nature.com

Decades-long bet on consciousness ends — and it’s philosopher 1, neuroscientist 0

Christof Koch wagered David Chalmers 25 years ago that researchers would learn how the brain achieves consciousness by now. But the quest continues.



All those years ago, William James explained that in man consciousness works using, and through the brain, it is not generated by the brain.







And that peerless seer, Blavatsky,  wrote well over a century ago:

“‘Mystery is the fatality of science.’ Official science is surrounded on every side and hedged in by unapproachable, forever impenetrable mysteries. And why? Simply because physical science is self-doomed to a squirrel-like progress around a wheel of matter limited by our five senses.
Blavatsky, H.P. (1889-1890) Collected Writings-XII, ‘Kosmic Mind’, p. 135.


And applying this reasoning to the enquiry into the nature of mind, Blavatsky says:

Scalpels and microscopes may solve the mystery of the material parts of the shell of man [the Physical body and brain]: they can never cut a window into his soul to open the smallest vista on any of the wider horizons of being.

Blavatsky, H.P. (1887) Collected Writings-VIII, ‘The Science of Life’, p. 241.


To this day scientists continue looking for non-existent needles in haystacks.


What then, is the role and function of the brain?

“If we trace all our thoughts to brain-work, it is only because in that mansion called ‘the human body’ the brain is the front-door, and the only one which opens out into space, i.e., into the external and objective world. All the others are inner doors, openings in the private building, through which travel incessantly the transmitting agents of memory and sensation. The clearness, the vividness, and intensity of these depend on the state of health and the organic soundness of the transmitters.”

Blavatsky, H. P. (1887) Collected Writings-XII, ‘Psychic and Noetic Action’, reworded, p. 369–70.