Published online by Cambridge University Press: 06 December 2019
Christopher Cook: a distinguished American cognitive neuroscientist from California; middle-aged; pronounced American accent; dressed in jeans, sports jacket and open necked shirt. His views are a synthesis of a large number of different views among cognitive neuroscientists.
Jocelyn Thomas: The Stranger's companion; an educated lady in her late thirties; informally but well dressed; neutral educated accent. An inquisitive and intelligent mind, with a biological, rather than philosophical, background.
Bruce Palmer: an eminent Australian philosopher, a member of the self-styled ‘consciousness studies community’; in his mid-thirties; relaxed; amiable; pronounced Australian accent; dressed in T-shirt and jeans. His views are a synthesis of many different views among philosophers who have nailed their colours to the masts of cognitive science.
The Stranger: the visitor from Vienna who participated in the previous dialogue on consciousness three weeks previously; late-middleaged philosopher; dressed in a dark suit, with a bow tie; pronounced German accent coupled with a speech mannerism of punctuating his remarks with a slight ‘Hmm’ or interrogative ‘huh?’ A remote intellectual descendent of Plato's Eleatic stranger in The Laws. He is obviously familiar with the works of Wittgenstein.
Adam Blackstone: a middle-aged Oxford don; the host of the gathering; educated Oxford accent; dressed in a well-cut sports jacket and elegant tie, casual slacks; a linguistic philosopher.
The scene is a small Oxford Common Room. The room is panelled. Oil paintings of past fellows and of presidents hang from the picture rails. There is a bust of Socrates on a stand in the corner. Lighting comes from the central chandelier and sconces on the walls. A fire is flickering in the fireplace. There is a well-stocked bookcase against one wall. There are five comfortable leather armchairs arranged around a low central table with books and papers scattered on it. On one side is a sideboard on which there is an eighteenth-century table-clock as well as bottles of drinks and glasses. The company is seated around the table with their drinks on it.
Christopher: OK. Look. Last time we met here, you two [he gestures towards Adam and the Stranger] tried to persuade us that there is no great mystery about consciousness, that it's just a biological phenomenon that has as good an evolutionary explanation as any other biological phenomenon.