What is it like to be conscious? The ontogenesis of consciousness

Philosophical Psychology 16 (1):67 – 85 (2003)
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Abstract

In recent years, numerous studies have tried to highlight, from a naturalistic point of view, the apparent mysteries of consciousness. Many authors concentrated their efforts on explaining the phylogenetic origins of consciousness. Paradoxically, comments on the ontogenesis of consciousness are almost nonexistent. By crossing the results of psychology of development with a philosophical analysis, this paper aims to make up for this omission. After having characterized the different conceptual aspects of consciousness, we combine these, with observations made by developmental psychologists, to trace the empirical development of consciousness during the first months of life. This combination leads to a theoretical proposal: the intentional characteristics of consciousness, namely, aboutness and purposefulness, depend on the phenomenal properties of conscious states. From this perspective, the phenomenal aspect of conscious states (the "what it is like" effect) is therefore far from being an epiphenomenon.

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