The many faces of consciousness: A field guide

In Ned Block, Owen Flanagan & Güven Güzeldere (eds.), The Nature of Consciousness: Philosophical Debates. The Mit Press. 1-345 (1997)
Abstract
This dissertation argues for a "bundle thesis" of phenomenal consciousness: that the ways things seem to subjects are constituted by bundles of representational and functional properties. I argue that qualia are determined not only by intrinsic properties, but also by relational properties to other bodily and mental states . The view developed on the basis of this claim is called "phenomenal holism." ;Part I examines the current literature on phenomenal consciousness, sorting out various conceptual and historical issues. In particular, I show that current research falls into two camps: that claiming there is no coherent view of phenomenal consciousness or of how it can be studied, and that claiming that phenomenal consciousness is constituted by non-relational and non-causal/functional/representational properties. Neither camp believes that materialist theories of consciousness are possible. ;Part II counters the specific objections these writers raise against materialist theories. First I show that some of the most prominent objections are founded upon an implicit and misguided assumption: that qualia are non-relational simples, based on what I call the segregationist intuition. Then, more specifically, I argue: that while Kripke's argument from a posteriori necessity against the identity-theory is committed to the absence of an appearance/reality distinction, its presumptions entail this distinction; and that the symmetrical development of the possibility of "hidden qualia" shows that absent qualia and zombie arguments against functionalism are absurd. This last argument is extended to argue against the possibility of inverted spectra. It is concluded that none of the standard objections to materialist theories carry significant weight. ;Part III turns to relational theories of consciousness, and supports an "integrationist intuition" about the mind. I first show that higher-order perception and higher-order thought theories are inadequate, in spite of correctly construing consciousness relationally. I then go on to develop the bundle theory, drawing support from empirical research on vision and pain. The dissertation concludes by defending phenomenal holism and integrationist views of mind more generally, and setting directions for future research
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