The possibility of algorithmic consciousness depends on the assumption that conscious states can be copied or repeated by sufficiently duplicating their underlying physical states, leading to a variety of paradoxes, including the problems of duplication, teleportation, simulation, self-location, the Boltzmann brain, and Wigner’s Friend. In an effort to further elucidate the physical nature of consciousness, I challenge these assumptions by analyzing the implications of special relativity on evolutions of identical copies of a mental state, particularly the divergence of these evolutions (...) due to quantum fluctuations. By assuming the supervenience of a conscious state on some sufficient underlying physical state, I show that the existence of two or more instances, whether spacelike or timelike, of the same conscious state leads to a logical contradiction, ultimately refuting the assumption that a conscious state can be physically reset to an earlier state or duplicated by any physical means. Several explanatory hypotheses and implications are addressed, particularly the relationships between consciousness, locality, physical irreversibility, and quantum no-cloning. (shrink)
First-person and third-person perspectives are different items of human consciousness. Feeling the taste of a fruit or being consciously part of a group eating fruits call for different perspectives of consciousness. The latter is about objective reality (third-person data). The former is about subjective experience (first-person data) and cannot be described entirely by objective reality. We propose to look at how these two perspectives could be rooted in an evolutionary origin of human consciousness, and somehow be connected. Our starting point (...) is a scenario describing how evolution could have transformed a non self-conscious auto-representation into a conscious self-representation (Menant 2006). The scenario is based on the performance of inter-subjectivity existing among non human primates (Gardenfors 2006). A key item of the scenario is the identification of the auto-representation of a subject with the representations that the subject has of her conspecifics, the latter feeding the former with the meaning: “existing in the environment”. So during evolution, pre-human primates were brought to perceive their auto-representation as existing in the environment. Such process could have generated the initial elements of a conscious self-representation. We take this scenario as providing a possible rooting of human consciousness in evolution. We develop here a part of this scenario by expliciting the inward and outward components of the non self-conscious auto-representation. Inward components are about proprioception and interoception (thirst, pain, …). Outward components cover the sensory information relative to the perception of the body (seen feet, … ) and of its effects on the environment. We consider that the initial elements of a conscious self-representation have been applied to both inward and outward components of the auto-representation. We propose that the application to inward components made possible some first-person information, and that the application to outward components brought up third-person information. Relations between the two perspectives are highlighted. Such approach can root first-person and third-person perspectives in the same slot of human evolution. We conclude by a summary of the above and introduce a possible application of this approach to the concepts of bodily self and of pre-reflexive self-consciousness (Legrand, 2006). (shrink)
Mind, according to cognitive neuroscience, is a set of brain functions. But, unlike sets, our minds are cohesive. Moreover, unlike the structureless elements of sets, the contents of our minds are structured. Mutual relations between the mental contents endow the mind its structure. Here we characterize the structural essence and the logical form of the mind by focusing on thinking. Examination of the relations between concepts, propositions, and syllogisms involved in thinking revealed the reflexive graph structure of the conceptual mind. (...) Objective logic of the conceptual mind is calculated from its structure. Noteworthy features of the logic of conceptual mind are: degrees of truth, varieties of negation, admission of contradiction, and the failure of a de Morgan's law. Furthermore, cohesion of the conceptual mind follows from its reflexive graph structure. Our characterization of the structure and logic of mind constitutes a substantial refinement of the contemporary cognitive neuroscientific conceptualization of the mind as a set. (shrink)
A recurring theme dominates recent philosophical debates about the nature of conscious perception: naïve realism’s opponents claim that the view is directly contradicted by empirical science. I argue that, despite their current popularity, empirical arguments against naïve realism are fundamentally flawed. The non-empirical premises needed to get from empirical scientific findings to substantive philosophical conclusions are ones the naïve realist is known to reject. Even granting the contentious premises, the empirical findings do not undermine the theory, given its overall philosophical (...) commitments. Thus, contemporary empirical research fails to supply any new argumentative force against naïve realism. I conclude that, as philosophers of mind, we would be better served spending a bit less time trying to wield empirical science as a cudgel against our opponents, and a bit more time working through the implications of each other’s views – something we can accomplish perfectly well from the comfort of our armchairs. (shrink)
At its core this book is concerned with logic and computation with respect to the mathematical characterization of sentient biophysical structure and its behavior. -/- Three related theories are presented: The first of these provides an explanation of how sentient individuals come to be in the world. The second describes how these individuals operate. And the third proposes a method for reasoning about the behavior of individuals in groups. -/- These theories are based upon a new explanation of experience in (...) nature, the construction of senses, and motile behavior. This new approach is developed from first principles to enable a rigorous and systematic explanation of the variety of associated intelligent behaviors. -/- Alongside this development is a further account that focuses upon the nature of our work. It discusses the existential aspects of scientific inquiry, its epistemology and logic. It seeks to clarify the nature of the mathematical characterization and computation of natural behaviors, dealing with questions in the foundations of logic. It explores methodological issues related to reduction and the refinement of ideas from intuition to formal logical structure. -/- In support of this inquiry we work toward the development of a calculus for biophysical construction and its dynamics. If successful this mechanics mathematically characterizes sensory and motile behavior. -/- Upon this foundation we propose a model of apprehension and explore how its products are processed by the organism. Finally, we develop a probabilistic theory that enables us to reason about inaccessible factors in group behavior. -/- The mechanics we propose suggests the design and physical realization of a new model of computation; one in which structure and the concurrency of action are a first-order consideration. -/- We identify opportunities for experimental verification of the theory and we suggest a proof of our results in practice by the identification of this mechanism, allowing the construction of machines that experience. (shrink)
Researchers in the psychological sciences have put forward the thesis that various sources of psychological, cognitive, and neuroscientific evidence demonstrate that being conscious of our mental states does not make any difference to our behaviour. In this paper, I argue that the evidence marshalled in support of this view—which I call psychological epiphenomenalism—is subject to major objections, relies on a superficial reading of the relevant literature, and fails to engage with the more precise ways in which philosophers understand mental states (...) to be conscious. I then appeal to work on implementation intentions to demonstrate that an intention’s being “access conscious” enhances its functional role, which makes it more likely that we will successfully carry out our intended behaviour. The result is that consciousness in at least one relevant sense is not epiphenomenal, with further work remaining to be done to show how other kinds of consciousness cause behaviour too. (shrink)
Negative subjective reports such as “I didn’t see the stimulus” can be interpreted as indicating either that the subject didn’t see the stimulus, or as indicating that, while the subject did see the stimulus, the strength of sensory signals associated with the stimulus fell below a conservative criterion for answering “seen”. Determining which of these two interpretations is correct is the criterion problem. I present two ways in which researchers can solve this problem. But there’s more. What I call the (...) “new criterion problem” consists in determining whether criteria effects reflect perceptual changes, or changes in response strategy. Through case studies, I argue that this new version of the problem can be solved as well, although there is currently no systematic way to solve it. I conclude that criterion problems do not constitute good reasons for skepticism about the scientific study of consciousness. (shrink)
This paper presents Integrated Information Theory (IIT) 4.0. IIT aims to account for the properties of experience in physical (operational) terms. It identifies the essential properties of experience (axioms), infers the necessary and sufficient properties that its substrate must satisfy (postulates), and expresses them in mathematical terms. In principle, the postulates can be applied to any system of units in a state to determine whether it is conscious, to what degree, and in what way. IIT offers a parsimonious explanation of (...) empirical evidence, makes testable predictions, and permits inferences and extrapolations. IIT 4.0 incorporates several developments of the past ten years, including a more accurate translation of axioms into postulates and mathematical expressions, the introduction of a unique measure of intrinsic information that is consistent with the postulates, and an explicit assessment of causal relations. By fully unfolding a system's irreducible cause-effect power, the distinctions and relations specified by a substrate can account for the quality of experience. (shrink)
Susan Schneider (2019) has proposed two new tests for consciousness in AI (artificial intelligence) systems, the AI Consciousness Test and the Chip Test. On their face, the two tests seem to have the virtue of proving satisfactory to a wide range of consciousness theorists holding divergent theoretical positions, rather than narrowly relying on the truth of any particular theory of consciousness. Unfortunately, both tests are undermined in having an ‘audience problem’: Those theorists with the kind of architectural worries that motivate (...) the need for such tests should, on similar grounds, doubt that the tests establish the existence of genuine consciousness in the AI in question. Nonetheless, the proposed tests constitute progress, as they could find use by some theorists holding fitting views about consciousness and perhaps in conjunction with other tests for AI consciousness. (shrink)
Mikhalevich & Powell (2020) argue that it is wrong, both scientifically and morally, to dismiss the evidence for sentience in invertebrates. They do not offer any examples, however, of how their welfare should be considered or improved. We draw on animal welfare science to suggest some ways that would not be excessively demanding.
Bayne and Carter argue that the mode of consciousness induced by psychedelic drugs does not fit squarely within the traditional account of modes as levels of consciousness, and favor instead a multi-dimensional account according to which modes of consciousness differ along several dimensions—none of which warrants a linear ordering of modes. We discuss the assumption that psychedelic drugs induce a single or paradigmatic mode of consciousness, as well as conceptual issues related to Bayne and Carter’s main argument against the traditional (...) account. Finally, we raise a set of questions about the individuation of dimensions selected to differentiate modes of consciousness that could be addressed in future discussions of the multi-dimensional account. (shrink)
The hard problem of consciousness is explicating how moving matter becomes thinking matter. Harder yet is the problem of spelling out the mutual determinations of individual experiences and the experiencing self. Determining how the collective social consciousness influences and is influenced by the individual selves constituting the society is the hardest problem. Drawing parallels between individual cognition and the collective knowing of mathematical science, here we present a conceptualization of the cognitive dimension of the self. Our abstraction of the relations (...) between the physical world, biological brain, mind, intuition, consciousness, cognitive self, and the society can facilitate the construction of the conceptual repertoire required for an explicit science of the self within human society. (shrink)
The typical empirical approach to studying consciousness holds that we can only observe the neural correlates of experiences, not the experiences themselves. In this paper we argue, in contrast, that experiences are concrete physical phenomena that can causally interact with other phenomena, including observers. Hence, experiences can be observed and scientifically modelled. We propose that the epistemic gap between an experience and a scientific model of its neural mechanisms stems from the fact that the model is merely a theoretical construct (...) based on observations, and distinct from the concrete phenomenon it models, namely the experience itself. In this sense, there is a gap between any natural phenomenon and its scientific model. On this approach, a neuroscientific theory of the constitutive mechanisms of an experience is literally a model of the subjective experience itself. We argue that this metatheoretical framework provides a solid basis for the empirical study of consciousness. (shrink)
Consciousness scientists have not reached consensus on two of the most central questions in their field: first, on whether consciousness overflows reportability; second, on the physical basis of consciousness. I review the scientific literature of the 19th century to provide evidence that disagreement on these questions has been a feature of the scientific study of consciousness for a long time. Based on this historical review, I hypothesize that a unifying explanation of disagreement on these questions, up to this day, is (...) that scientific theories of consciousness are underdetermined by the evidence, namely, that they can be preserved “come what may” in front of (seemingly) disconfirming evidence. Consciousness scientists may have to find a way of solving the persistent underdetermination of theories of consciousness to make further progress. (shrink)
The Integrated Information Theory of consciousness (IIT) claims that consciousness is identical to maximal integrated information, or maximal Φ. One objection to IIT is based on what may be called the intrinsicality problem: consciousness is an intrinsic property, but maximal Φ is an extrinsic property; therefore, they cannot be identical. In this paper, I show that this problem is not unique to IIT, but rather derives from a trilemma that confronts almost any theory of consciousness. Given most theories of consciousness, (...) the following three claims are inconsistent. INTRINSICALITY: Consciousness is intrinsic. NON-OVERLAP: Conscious systems do not overlap with other conscious systems (a la Unger’s problem of the many). REDUCTIONISM: Consciousness is constituted by more fundamental properties (as per standard versions of physicalism and Russellian monism). In view of this, I will consider whether rejecting INTRINSICALITY is necessarily less plausible than rejecting NON-OVERLAP or REDUCTIONISM. I will also consider whether IIT is necessarily committed to rejecting INTRINSICALITY or whether it could also accept solutions that reject NON-OVERLAP or REDUCTIONISM instead. I will suggest that the best option for IIT may be a solution that rejects REDUCTIONISM rather than INTRINSICALITY or NON-OVERLAP. (shrink)
Cognition involves physical stimulation, neural coding, mental conception, and conscious perception. Beyond the neural coding of physical stimuli, it is not clear how exactly these component processes constitute cognition. Within mathematical sciences, category theory provides tools such as category, functor, and adjointness, which are indispensable in the explication of the mathematical calculations involved in acquiring mathematical knowledge. More speci cally, functorial semantics, in showing that theories and models can be construed as categories and functors, respectively, and in establishing the adjointness (...) between abstraction (of theories) and interpretation (to obtain models), mathematically accounts for knowing-within-mathematics. Here we show that mathematical knowing recapitulates--in an elementary form--ordinary cognition. The process of going from particulars (physical stimuli) to their concrete models (conscious percepts) via abstract theories (mental concepts) and measured properties (neural coding) is common to both mathematical knowing and ordinary cognition. Our investigation of the similarity between knowing-within-mathematics and knowing-in-general leads us to make a case for the development of the basic science of cognition in terms of the functorial semantics of mathematical knowing. (shrink)
(From the Publisher 2017) Featuring many important updates and revisions, the highly-anticipated second edition of The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness offers a collection of readings that together represent the most thorough and comprehensive survey of the nature of consciousness available today. Chapters delve deeply into the wide variety of scientific and philosophical problems that arise from the study of consciousness—as well as the philosophical, cognitive, neuroscientific, and phenomenological approaches to solving them. -/- Along with updates to existing scientific readings reflecting (...) the latest research data, this edition features 18 entirely new theoretical, empirical and methodological chapters covering such areas as integrated information theory, the resurgence in panpsychism, the renewed interest in more sophisticated first-person methodologies for the investigation of conscious phenomenology, and many others. Featuring contributions by leading experts in the study of consciousness, from across a variety of academic disciplines, the 54-chapter collection reasserts its role as the most thorough, authoritative, and up-to-date survey of the subject available today. Illuminating and thought-provoking, The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness, Second Edition is an indispensable resource for those wishing to gain insights into the latest contemporary thinking on consciousness. (shrink)
Before remarking on “The New Science of the Mind”, I first offer some comments on philosophy and its relationship to contemporary psychological research as exemplified in the works of Searle (S),Wittgenstein (W), Hacker (H) et al. It will help to see my reviews of PNC (Philosophy in a New Century), TLP, PI, OC, Making the Social World (MSW) and other books by and about these geniuses, who provide a clear description of higher order behavior, not found in psychology nor philosophy, (...) that I will refer to as the WS framework. -/- As with so many philosophy books, we might stop with the title. As the quotes and comments above and in my other reviews and the books they cover indicate, there are compelling reasons for regarding the problems we face in describing the psychology of higher order thought as conceptual and not scientific. This ought to be crystal clear to all, but science envy and almost complete oblivion to WSH etc. is a la mode! But as H notes above, the issues discussed here are all about language games and have nothing to do with science. In fact, as usual, if one translates into plain English there is very little of interest here, and certainly nothing not said before and better by WS etc. countless times since the 30’s (see e.g., The Blue and Brown Books from 1933-35). It is not surprising that he makes no significant references to any of the above books or persons (the only reference to S is an article from 1958!), though in my view they are at the top of the list of the major figures in descriptive psychology. -/- On p119 he tells us that the key to all this is to figure out how “…a personal level cognitive process can belong to a representational subject. This is the task of the second half of the book.” But W did this 80 years ago and since we have the beautifully clear explanations of WSH, H&M etc., there is no point to torturing oneself with the rather aimless and opaque prose that veers off at the end into Sartre, Heidegger, Husserl, and Frege, with a dash of postmodernist word salad for good measure. A valiant effort on an interesting topic, but ultimately exhausting and fruitless. -/- Those wishing a comprehensive up to date framework for human behavior from the modern two systems view may consult my book ‘The Logical Structure of Philosophy, Psychology, Mind and Language in Ludwig Wittgenstein and John Searle’ 2nd ed (2019). Those interested in more of my writings may see ‘Talking Monkeys--Philosophy, Psychology, Science, Religion and Politics on a Doomed Planet--Articles and Reviews 2006-2019 3rd ed (2019), The Logical Structure of Human Behavior (2019), and Suicidal Utopian Delusions in the 21st Century 4th ed (2019). (shrink)
A main goal of the neuroscience of consciousness is: find the neural correlate to conscious experiences (NCC). When have we achieved this goal? The answer depends on our operationalization of “NCC.” Chalmers (2000) shaped the widely accepted operationalization according to which an NCC is a neural system with a state which is minimally sufficient (but not necessary) for an experience. A deeper look at this operationalization reveals why it might be unsatisfactory: (i) it is not an operationalization of a correlate (...) for occurring experiences, but of the capacity to experience; (ii) it is unhelpful for certain cases which are used to motivate a search for neural correlates of consciousness; (iii) it does not mirror the usage of “NCC” by scientists who seek for unique correlates; (iv) it hardly allows for a form of comparative testing of hypotheses, namely experimenta crucis. Because of these problems (i–iv), we ought to amend or improve on Chalmers's operationalization. Here, I present an alternative which avoids these problems. This “NCC2.0” also retains some benefits of Chalmers's operationalization, namely being compatible with contributions from extended, embedded, enacted, or embodied accounts (4E-accounts) and allowing for the possibility of non-biological or artificial experiencers. (shrink)
(Publisher's Description) In the World Library of Psychologists series, international experts themselves present career-long collections of what they judge to be their finest pieces - extracts from books, key articles, salient research findings, and their major practical theoretical contributions. In this volume Max Velmans reflects on his long-spanning and varied career, considers the highs and lows in a brand new introduction and offers reactions to those who have responded to his published work over the years. This book offers a unique (...) and compelling collection of the best publications in consciousness studies from one of the few psychologists to treat the topic systematically and seriously. Velmans’ approach is multi-faceted and represents a convergence of numerous fields of study – culminating in fascinating insights that are of interest to philosopher, psychologist and neuroscientist alike. With continuing contemporary relevance, and significant historical impact, this collection of works is an essential resource for all those engaged or interested in the field of consciousness studies and the philosophy of the mind. (shrink)
In this paper I examine the dispute between Hakwan Lau, Ned Block, and David Rosenthal over the extent to which empirical results can help us decide between first-order and higher-order theories of consciousness. What emerges from this is an overall argument to the best explanation against the first-order view of consciousness and the dispelling of the mythological notion of phenomenological overflow that comes with it.
A biophysical and biochemical perspective of Brahmajnaana will be advanced by viewing Upanishads and related books as “Texts of Science on human mind”. A biological and cognitive science insight of Atman and Maya, the results of breathing process; constituting and responsible for human consciousness and mental functions will be developed. The Advaita and Dvaita phases of human mind, its cognitive and functional states will be discussed. These mental activities will be modeled as brain-wave modulation and demodulation processes. The energy-forms and (...) their transformations as ideas/moods/experiences/thoughts/feelings/utterances/knowing/perception/experience/mood; and a theory of human cognition and communication will be advanced. The sameness of these and processes taking place and steps involved in human language acquisition and communication processes will be highlighted taking ideas from Sabdabrahma Siddhanta and Sphota Vaada, for which the basis is Brahmajnaana only. In fine, a physiological psychological and neurological model of human consciousness and function of mind based on Indian spiritual thought will be derived and discussed using concepts from modern science and technology. The application of these derivations in the fields of physiological psychology, mind-machine modeling, natural language comprehension branch of artificial intelligence and neurology to model and imitate human mental functions will be hinted. -/- . (shrink)
The noetic model is the first theory of any kind to explain qualia in physical terms. The formal delineation of the life principle or élan vital explains not only the origin of self-organisation in living systems, providing the basis for the first comprehensive dualist theory, but also is what makes the model empirically testable allowing this volume to make history. The floodgates are about to open to almost unimaginable advances in the field of consciousness studies. This book introduces a comprehensive (...) empirically testable model of dualism-interactionism to legitimise the interactionist model at a level tantamount to any other avenue of epistemological investigation. (shrink)
In this article we present and compare two early attempts to establish psychology as an independent scientific discipline that had considerable influence in central Europe: the theories of Johann Friedrich Herbart (1776—1841) and Franz Brentano (1838—1917). While both of them emphasize that psychology ought to be conceived as an empirical science, their conceptions show revealing differences. Herbart starts with metaphysical principles and aims at mathematizing psychology, whereas Brentano rejects all metaphysics and bases his method on a conception of inner perception (...) (as opposed to inner observation) as a secondary consciousness, by means of which one gets to be aware of all of one’s own conscious phenomena. Brentano’s focus on inner perception brings him to deny the claim that there could be unconscious mental phenomena — a view that stands in sharp contrast to Herbart’s emphasis on unconscious, ‘repressed’ presentations as a core element of his mechanics of mind. Herbart, on the other hand, denies any role for psychological experiments, while Brentano encouraged laboratory work, thus paving the road for the more experimental work of his students like Stumpf and Meinong. By briefly tracing the fate of the schools of Herbart and Brentano, respectively, we aim to illustrate their impact on the development of psychological research, mainly in central Europe. (shrink)
An antinaturalist defense of causality of mental states. The argument is based on the properties of causal models in cognitive research. Bibliografia prac przywołanych w tekście -/- Damasio A., 1994/1999, Błąd Kartezjusza. Emocje, rozum i ludzki mózg, tłum. M. Karpiński, Poznań: Rebis. Davidson D., 1963/2001, „Actions, reasons, and causes”, w: (Davidson 2001), s. 3-19. Davidson D., 1967/2001, „Causal relations”, w: (Davidson 2001), s. 149-62. Davidson D., 1970/2001, „Mental events”, w: (Davidson 2001), s. 207-25. Davidson D., 1976/2001, „Hempel on explaining action”, (...) w: (Davidson 2001), s. 261-75. Davidson D., 2001, Essays on actions and events, Oxford: Clarendon. Farmer A., McGuffin P., Williams J., 2002, Measuring psychopathology, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Freedman D. A., Petitti D. B., 2002, „Salt, blood pressure, and public policy”, International Journal of Epidemiology, t. 31, s. 319–320. Greyson B., 2000, „Near-death experiences”, w: Varieties of anomalous experience. Examining the scientific evidence, red. E. Cardeña, S. J. Lynn i S. Krippner, Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, s. 315-52. Judycki S., 1995, Umysł i synteza, Lublin: RW KUL. Judycki S., 2000, „Transkauzalność a determinizm”, Kognitywistyka i media w edukacji, t. 3, s. 73-86. Kawalec P. 2005, „Understanding science of the new millennium”, http://philsci archive.pitt.edu/archive/00002558/ Kawalec P., 2006, Jak odkryć przyczynę? Studium z ogólnej metodologii i filozofii nauki, Lublin 2006, w przygotowaniu. Kim J., 1998/2002, Umysł w świecie fizycznym, tłum. R. Poczobut, Warszawa: IFiS PAN. Lauritzen S., 1996, Graphical models, Oxford: Clarendon. Menzies P., 2003, „The causal efficacy of mental states”, w: Physicalism and mental causation. The metaphysics of mind and action, red. S. Walter i H.-D. Heckmann, w druku. Pearl J., 2000, Causality. Models, reasoning, and inference, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Piłat R., 1999, Umysł jako model świata, Warszawa: IFiS PAN. Rosenbaum P., 2002, Observational studies, Nowy Jork: Springer. Sabom M., 1998, Life and death. One doctors’s fascinating account of near-death experiences, Grand Rapids: Zondervan. Spirtes P., Glymour C., Scheines R., 2000, Causation, prediction, and search, Cambridge, MA.: MIT. van Fraassen B., 1980, The scientific image, Oxford: Clarendon. van Fraassen B., 2002, The empirical stance, New Haven: Yale University Press. Woodward J., 2003, Making things happen: a theory of causal explanation, Nowy Jork: Oxford University Press. Żegleń U., 2003, Filozofia umysłu, Toruń: A. Marszałek. (shrink)
Six keynote papers presented at TSC 2009 — by Susan Greenfield, Wolf Singer, Stuart Hameroff, Jonathan Schooler, Hakwan Lau, and David Chalmers—are reviewed below in order to investigate to what extent social analysis can be usefully applied in different areas of consciousness studies. The six papers did not ostensibly address social aspects of consciousness; nevertheless I hope to show that it is often beneficial to consider the possible social implications in any consciousness- related work.
Reflexive monism is, in essence, an ancient view of how consciousness relates to the material world that has, in recent decades, been resurrected in modern form. In this paper I discuss how some of its basic features differ from both dualism and variants of physicalist and functionalist reductionism, focusing on those aspects of the theory that challenge deeply rooted presuppositions in current Western thought. I pay particular attention to the ontological status and seeming “out-thereness” of the phenomenal world and to (...) how the “phenomenal world” relates to the “physical world”, the “world itself”, and processing in the brain. In order to place the theory within the context of current thought and debate, I address questions that have been raised about reflexive monism in recent commentaries and also evaluate competing accounts of the same issues offered by “transparency theory” and by “biological naturalism”. I argue that, of the competing views on offer, reflexive monism most closely follows the contours of ordinary experience, the findings of science, and common sense. (shrink)
For the conference and the special issue of the_ Journal of Consciousness Studies_ that lie behind this book, pairs of researchers were asked to tackle from different standpoints concepts of consciousness such as realism, representation, intentionality, information, control, memory and the self.
I argue that Van der Velde and I agree on two fundamental issues surrounding the vision-related binding problem and recent solutions that have been offered: (1) that tagging theories fail to account for object feature binding in visual consciousness and (2) that feedforward-feedback processes in the visual cortical hierarchy play a role in generating a feature-unified object of visual consciousness. Van der Velde develops and discusses an important objection to tagging theories that could help to strengthen my critique of neuronal (...) synchrony (and other tagging theories) and then argues that the cognitive subject makes no explanatory contribution to the unity of an object’s features in visual consciousness. These issues are discussed in turn. By contrast, Van Leeuwen takes a more critical approach to my target article. A two-fold response to Van Leeuwen is offered: first, the root of Van Leeuwen’s perplexity is uncovered and then some specific objections that Van Leeuwen poses to my critique of neuronal synchrony, as a purported solution of the object feature binding problem, are addressed. (shrink)
As the cognitive neurosciences set out to challenge our understanding of consciousness, the existing conceptual panoply of meanings attached to the term remains largely unaccounted for. By way of bibliometric analysis, the following study first reveals the breadth and shift of meanings over the last decades, the main tendency being a more 'brainy' concept of consciousness. On this basis, the emergence of consciousness studies is regarded as a 'trading zone' in which experimental, philosophical and experiential accounts are dialectically engaged. Outside (...) of academic discourse, a neurocognitive concept of consciousness is embraced by popular self-help literature that sweepingly adopts this new discourse and the novel neuropharmacological tools in the self-help toolbox. Consciousness studies are hence not only the product of epistemological and methodological struggles but also part of the current re-alignments regarding the notion of consciously acting selves in society. (shrink)
The purpose of this special issue and the conference that inspired it was to address the issue of conceptual integration in a science of consciousness. We felt this to be important, for while current efforts to scientifically investigate consciousness are taking place in an interdisciplinary context, it often seems as though the very terms being used to sustain a sense of interdisciplinary cooperation are working against it. This is because it is this very array of common concepts that generates a (...) sense of unity among consciousness researchers, despite the fact the concepts mean different things in different disciplines. These Concepts of Consciousness include the following: realism, representation, intentionality, information, control, memory and self. Given this list, we believed we could best approach the issue of potential conceptual integration by addressing each concept from different perspectives and asking the following: how do uses of the concept differ, must these meanings be synthesized in order for there to be a unified science of consciousness, is a unified conceptual scheme necessary to establish an independent science of consciousness, is a unified conceptual scheme possible, if it is not possible, why not, and if it is possible, what might it look like? To this end we invited, for each concept, two scholars who made extensive use of the identified concept in their work. The papers entailed in this special issue constitute the outcome of this effort, and in what follows we offer a brief examination of possible forms of integration the papers seem to collectively suggest. (shrink)
This is a prepublication version of the final chapter from the Blackwell Companion to Consciousness. In it I re-examine the basic conditions required for a study of conscious experiences in the light of progress made in recent years in the field of consciousness studies. I argue that neither dualist nor reductionist assumptions about subjectivity versus objectivity and the privacy of experience versus the public nature of scientific observations allow an adequate understanding of how studies of consciousness actually proceed. The chapter (...) examines the sense in which the experimenter is also a subject, the sense in which all experienced phenomena are private and subjective, the different senses in which a phenomenon can nevertheless be public and observations of it objective, and the conditions for intra-subjective and intersubjective repeatability. The chapter goes on to re-examine the empirical method and how methods used in psychology differ from those used in physics. I argue that a reflexive understanding of these relationships supports a form of “critical phenomenology” that fits consciousness studies smoothly into science. (shrink)
This paper explores some connections between the philosophically central topic of intersubjectivity highlighted in John Ziman's article and the notion of collective consciousness, which has received very little formal attention in mainstream philosophy. The deconstruction of the Cartesian model of isolated spheres of consciousness which the intersubjective viewpoint brings about is supported by considerations from Kant's critical account of transcendental psychology. The phenomenon of empathy, an essential component in the achievement of intersubjective consensus, is related to the possibility of shared (...) experiences, i.e. of two or more individuals participating in the same conscious experience. The use of mental concept-words applied to collectives of persons is interpreted as more than a mere metaphor; this interpretation is supported by comparison with complex collective behaviours in other social species. It is necessary to say that this paper very much represents work in progress-- other commitments have prevented the author from supporting many of the points made with references or further analysis at this stage, and it is hoped merely that this exploratory essay will provide useful ideas for further research. (shrink)
Two radically different families of theory currently compete for acceptance among theorists of human consciousness. The majority of theorists believe that the human brain somehow causes consciousness, but a significant minority holds that how the brain would cause this property is not only currently incomprehensible, but unlikely to become comprehensible despite continuing advances in brain science. Some of these latter theorists hold an alternate view that consciousness may well be one of the fundamentals in nature, and that the extremely complex (...) functional systems of the human brain inform this basic property, giving rise to our specifically human variety thereof. If these contesting families of theory are to be useful to neuroscientists, testable notions flowing from these theories need to be developed. (shrink)
Kuttner and Rosenblum's presentation of the "only objective evidence for consciousness" is criticized for not adequately defining consciousness , not providing at the outset an explanation of the philosophical-theoretical interpretation of quantum theory that would lead to a direct rationale for their "impossible" quantum experiments, and suggesting that data from their impossible experiments could be treated as non-theoretical "facts." It is concluded that Kuttner and Rosenblum fail to objectify consciousness.
Martínez-Manrique contends that we overlook a possible nonconnectionist vehicle theory of consciousness. We argue that the position he develops is better understood as a hybrid vehicle/process theory. We assess this theory and in doing so clarify the commitments of both vehicle and process theories of consciousness.
Several authors within psychology, neuroscience and philosophy take for granted that standard empirical research techniques are applicable when studying consciousness. In this article, it is discussed whether one of the key methods in cognitive neuroscience – the contrastive analysis – suffers from any serious confounding when applied to the field of consciousness studies; that is to say, if there are any systematic difficulties when studying consciousness with this method that make the results untrustworthy. Through an analysis of theoretical arguments in (...) favour of using contrastive analysis, combined with analyses of empirical findings, I conclude by arguing for three factors that currently are confounding of research using contrastive analysis. These are (1) unconscious processes, (2) introspective reports, and (3) attention. (shrink)
The general framework of this paper relies on the observation that the practice of science as an experimental research program involves a social network of subjects working together, both as co-researchers and as co-subjects of experiments. We want to take this basic observation seriously in order to explore how the objectivity of scientific results obtained thereby is highly affected and dependent on multifarious ‘intersubjective regulations.’ By intersubjective regulations we mean the different ways in which each subject/ researcher is able to (...) account for his or her experience and share it with other subjects/researchers to the point of giving way to a re-styled objectivity founded on such ruled inter-individual practices : More specifically, ‘third-person’ protocols are not neutral, that is, true independently of the very situatedness of each subject in its own individuated space and time, but must take into consideration ‘first-person’ accounts and furthermore are inherently dependent on specific ‘second-person’ validations. (shrink)
When he formulated the program of neurophenomenology, Francisco Varela suggested a balanced methodological dissolution of the hard problem of consciousness. I show that his dissolution is a paradigm which imposes itself onto seemingly opposite views, including materialist approaches. I also point out that Varela's revolutionary epistemological ideas are gaining wider acceptance as a side effect of a recent controversy between hermeneutists and eliminativists. Finally, I emphasize a structural parallel between the science of consciousness and the distinctive features of quantum mechanics. (...) This parallel, together with the former convergences, point towards the common origin of the main puzzles of both quantum mechanics and the philosophy of mind: neglect of the constitutive blindspot of objective knowledge. (shrink)
What is consciousness? Of course, each of us knows, privately, what consciousness is. And we each think, for basically irresistible reasons, that all other conscious humans by and large have experiences like ours. So we conclude that we all know what consciousness is. It's the felt experiences of our lives. But that is not the answer we, as cognitive scientists, seek in asking our question. We all want to know what physical process consciousness is and why it produces this very (...) strange, almost mysterious, phenomenon of felt experience. (shrink)