Subjective Facts about Consciousness

Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 10:530-553 (2023)
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The starting point of this paper is the thought that the phenomenal appearances that accompany mental states are somehow only there, or only real, from the standpoint of the subject of those mental states. The world differs across subjects in terms of which appearances obtain. Not only are subjects standpoints across which the world varies, subjects are standpoints that we can ‘adopt’ in our own theorizing about the world (or stand back from). The picture that is suggested by these claims has an appeal but is at the same time obscure and stands in need of regimentation. This paper explores and motivates a metaphysical account of what it is for subjects to be standpoints, what it is to adopt standpoints in our representations and, most importantly, how these notions might help us better understand the subjective character of conscious mental states. Some well-known observations by Thomas Nagel serve as starting points and the paper concludes by revisiting Nagel’s argument for the inevitable incompleteness of objective accounts of mental states, which will be reframed in terms of the central commitments of the proposed framework.

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Author's Profile

Martin A. Lipman
Leiden University

References found in this work

The character of consciousness.David John Chalmers - 2010 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Naming and Necessity.Saul Kripke - 1980 - Critica 17 (49):69-71.
Consciousness Explained.Daniel C. Dennett - 1993 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 53 (4):905-910.
The intrinsic quality of experience.Gilbert Harman - 1990 - Philosophical Perspectives 4:31-52.

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