Paul Livingston
University of New Mexico
Investigation and analysis of the history of the concepts employed in contemporary philosophy of mind could significantly change the contemporary debate about the explainability of consciousness. Philosophical investigation of the history of the concept of qualia and the concept of scientific explanation most often presupposed in contemporary discussions of consciousness reveals the origin of both concepts in some of the most interesting philosophical debates of the twentieth century. In particular, a historical investigation of the inheritance of concepts of the elements of experience and the nature of scientific explanation from C. I. Lewis and Rudolf Carnap to contemporary theorists like David Chalmers shows the profound continuity of these concepts throughout the analytic tradition, despite important changes in the dimensions of philosophical relevance and significance that have characterized the emerging debate. I argue that, despite the significant methodological shift from the foundationalist epistemology of the 1920s to today's functionalist explanations of the mind, the problem of explaining consciousness has remained the problem of analysing or describing the logical and relational structure of immediate, given experience. Appreciation of this historical continuity of form recommends a more explicit discussion of the philosophical reasons for the underlying distinction between structure and content, reasons that trace to Lewis and Carnap's influential but seldom-discussed understanding of the relationship between subjectivity, conceived as the realm of private, ineffable contents, and objectivity, understood as public, linguistic expressibility. With this historical background in mind, the contemporary debate about the explanation of consciousness can be re-interpreted as a debate about the relationship between ineffable experience and structurally conceived meaning
Keywords Consciousness  Epistemology  Experience  History  Metaphysics  Philosophy  Structure
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 68,944
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature.Richard Rorty - 1979 - Princeton University Press.
What is It Like to Be a Bat?Thomas Nagel - 1974 - Philosophical Review 83 (October):435-50.
Epiphenomenal Qualia.Frank Jackson - 1982 - Philosophical Quarterly 32 (April):127-136.

View all 65 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Peculiarities in Mind; Or, on the Absence of Darwin.Tanya de Villiers-Botha - 2011 - South African Journal of Philosophy 30 (3):282-302.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Th E Elements of Consciousness and Their Neurodynnamic Correlates.Bruce J. MacLennan - 1996 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 3 (5-6):409-424.
The Unity of Consciousness: Subjects and Objectivity.Elizabeth Schechter - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 165 (2):671-692.
Philosophical Issues: Phenomenology.Evan Thompson & Dan Zahavi - 2007 - In Morris Moscovitch, Philip Zelazo & Evan Thompson (eds.), Cambridge Handbook of Consciousness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 67-87.
The Hard Problem: Closing the Empirical Gap.Jonathan Shear - 1996 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 3 (1):54-68.
Sin And The Experience Of Finiteness.Veress Károly - 2006 - Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies 5 (13):39-46.
The Problem with the Problem of Consciousness.Matthew Ratcliffe - 2007 - Synthesis Philosophica 22 (2):483-494.
Two Conceptions of Subjective Experience.Justin Sytsma & Edouard Machery - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 151 (2):299-327.
The Significance of Attention.Sebastian Watzl - 2010 - Dissertation, Columbia University


Added to PP index

Total views
147 ( #78,348 of 2,498,146 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
5 ( #140,331 of 2,498,146 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes