Breaking the self

Philosophy and the Mind Sciences 1 (I):1-27 (2020)
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Are there logically possible types of conscious experience that are nomologically impossible, given independently justified assumptions about the neural underpinnings of consciousness in human beings? In one sense, this is trivial: just consider the fact that the types of perceptual experiences we can have are limited by our sensory organs. But there may be non-trivial types of conscious experience that are impossible. For instance, if there is a basic type of self-consciousness, corresponding to a phenomenal property that is nomologically necessary for consciousness, then experiences lacking this phenomenal property will be impossible. More generally, it may be that there are causal dependencies between the neural mechanisms that are required to instantiate distinct phenomenal properties. If this is the case, instantiating one of these phenomenal properties without certain others may be impossible, which means there are non-trivial cases of nomologically impossible types of conscious experience. This paper clarifies this hypothesis, outlines a general methodology for its investigation, and relates it to research on radical disruptions of self-consciousness.



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Wanja Wiese
Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz

Citations of this work

Cotard syndrome, self-awareness, and I-concepts.Rocco J. Gennaro - 2020 - Philosophy and the Mind Sciences 1 (1):1-20.

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Facing up to the problem of consciousness.David Chalmers - 1995 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 2 (3):200-19.
Intentionality: An Essay in the Philosophy of Mind.John R. Searle - 1983 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
The Principles of Psychology.William James - 1890 - London, England: Dover Publications.
On a confusion about a function of consciousness.Ned Block - 1995 - Brain and Behavioral Sciences 18 (2):227-–247.

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