Evolutionary Origins of Consciousness (Grand Rapids)

Wednesday, August 9, 2017, 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Women's City Club, 254 E. Fulton St., Grand Rapids, MI, View Map

Presented by Mark Pestana, PhD, Professor of Philosophy, Grand Valley State University


In our times, the prevalent conception of the source of consciousness is that it is produced by (or simply identical to) activities of the central nervous system. In short, consciousness is a type of biological function. Also in our day, the dominant conception of the ultimate origins of biological functions is that they are products of natural selection. Hence, it seems that consciousness too must ultimately have come into being as a result of selection forces. This presentation will explore some of the attempts to give evolutionary accounts of the origins of consciousness. The first part of the presentation will focus on consciousness itself and review various theories concerning its nature. The second part will then turn to evolutionary accounts of origins. The final section will briefly cover objections to this explanatory enterprise.

About the Speaker

Mark Pestana has been teaching in the Philosophy Department of Grand Valley State University for over twenty-five years. His areas of specialization and research are in medieval thought and the philosophy of the mind, brain and consciousness. He presented papers and posters sessions at the Toward A Science Of Consciousness Conference in Tucson, AZ on three occasions. Books published: Moral Virtue or Mental Health and the edited collection, Metaphysics. Papers published on, the intentionality of the mental, the qualitative character of experience and several on free will and volition.

Additional Details

Meetings are open to the Public and are held in the Auditorium on the lower level. Please use the door on the south side of the building on the lower level (by parking lot).

After the meeting, join us at Vitale's Sports Bar, 834 Leonard NE, Grand Rapids, MI to socialize. View Map

The Auditorium is wheelchair accessible via a lift immediately inside and to the left of the lower level door.

Center for Inquiry Michigan values full participation for all attendees at all of our events, including participation from individuals with disabilities. Requests for reasonable accommodation may be made by contacting Jennifer Beahan at or 616-706-2029 at least three days prior to the event.

Learn about Parking, Accessibility, and more.

Cost: FREE / Suggested Donation $5. Ways to Support CFI & Donate Online

Contact: Jennifer Beahan, , 616-698-2342