Explaining the Qualitative Dimension of Consciousness: Prescission Instead of Reification

Dialogue 48 (01):145-183 (2009)
ABSTRACT: This paper suggests that it is largely a want of notional distinctions which fosters the “explanatory gap” that has beset the study of consciousness since T. Nagel’s revival of the topic. Modifying Ned Block’s controversial claim that we should countenance a “phenomenal-consciousness” which exists in its own right, we argue that there is a way to recuperate the intuitions he appeals to without engaging in an onerous reification of the facet in question. By renewing with the full type/token/tone trichotomy developed by C. S. Peirce, we think the distinctness Block calls attention to can be seen as stemming not from any separate module lurking within the mind, but rather from our ability to prescind qualities from occurrences.RÉSUMÉ : Cet article suggère que «le fossé dans l’explication» qui tracasse la réflexion sur la conscience depuis le renouveau instauré par T. Nagel est dû en grande partie à un défaut de distinctions notionnelles. En modifiant l’affirmation controversée de Ned Block que nous devrions accepter la présence d’une «conscience-phénoménale» ayant une existence propre, nous soutenons qu’il est possible de récupérer les intuitions qui sous-tendent cette proposition sans pour autant endosser une trop coûteuse réification de la facette en question. En recouvrant la trichotomie complète en «type/token/tone» développée par C. S. Peirce, nous croyons que la spécificité sur laquelle Block attire l’attention peut être conçue comme découlant non pas d’un quelconque module opérant furtivement dans l’esprit, mais bien de notre capacité de préscinder les qualités des occurrences.
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DOI 10.1017/S0012217309090088
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