Consciousness as sensory quality and as implicit self-awareness

When a mental state is conscious – in the sense that there is something it is like for the subject to have it – it instantiates a certain property F in virtue of which it is a conscious state. It is customary to suppose that F is the property of having sensory quality. The paper argues that this supposition is false. The first part of the paper discusses reasons for thinking that unconscious mental states can have a sensory quality, for example in cases of absent-minded perception. If unconscious mental states can have a sensory quality, then sensory quality is an insufficient condition for consciousness. The second part of the paper argues that there are even better reasons to think that sensory quality is an unnecessary condition for consciousness. The idea is that mental states can be conscious even when they lack sensory quality, for example, in the case of certain conscious propositional attitudes. In the third part of the paper, an alternative to the rejected supposition, drawn from the phenomenological tradition, is offered: that consciousness is a matter of implicit self-awareness, rather than of sensory quality. According to this alternative, a mental state is conscious when, and only when, it involves implicit self-awareness
Keywords Consciousness  Metaphysics  Perception  Qualia  Self-awareness
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DOI 10.1023/A:1022912206810
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Uriah Kriegel (2005). Naturalizing Subjective Character. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 71 (1):23-57.
Uriah Kriegel (2008). Moral Phenomenology: Foundational Issues. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 7 (1):1-19.

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