Why isn't consciousness empirically observable? Emotion, self-organization, and nonreductive physicalism

Journal of Mind and Behavior 20 (4):391-402 (1999)
Abstract
Most versions of the knowledge argument say that, since scientists observing my brain wouldn't know what my consciousness "is like," consciousness isn't describable as a physical process. Although this argument unwarrantedly equates the physical with the empirically observable, we can conclude, not that consciousness is nonphysical but that consciousness isn't identical with anything empirically observable. But what kind of mind&endash;body relation would render possible this empirical inaccessibility of consciousness? Even if multiple realizability may allow a distinction between consciousness and its physical substrata, why does this distinction make consciousness empirically unobservable? The reason must be that the emotions motivating attention direction, partly constitutive of phenomenal states, are executed, not undergone by self-organizing processes actively appropriating and replacing needed physical substrata; we feel motivations by generating them. But all consciousness is motivated; visual cortex activation is unconscious of red unless the emotional limbic system and anterior cingulate motivatedly "look for" red. Experiencing entails executing motivations. Experimenters do know what subjects' brain events "are like" ---; but from the standpoint of the experimenter's motivational processes
Keywords Consciousness  Emotion  Organization  Physicalism  Science  Self
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David Papineau (2003). Theories of Consciousness. In Quentin Smith & Aleksandar Jokic (eds.), Consciousness: New Philosophical Essays. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 353.
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