How not to find the neural correlate of consciousness

In João Branquinho (ed.), The Foundations of Cognitive Science. Oxford: Clarendon Press. pp. 1 (2001)

Abstract

There are two concepts of consciousness that are easy to confuse with one another, access-consciousness and phenomenal consciousness. However, just as the concepts of water and H2O are different concepts of the same thing, so the two concepts of consciousness may come to the same thing in the brain. The focus of this paper is on the problems that arise when these two concepts of consciousness are conflated. I will argue that John Searle’s reasoning about the function of consciousness goes wrong because he conflates the two senses. And Francis Crick and Christof Koch fall afoul of the ambiguity in arguing that visual area V1 is not part of the neural correlate of consciousness. Crick and Koch’s work raises issues that suggest that these two concepts of consciousness may have different (though overlapping) neural correlates--despite Crick and Koch’s implicit rejection of this idea

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Ned Block
New York University

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