The project that Dan Lloyd has undertaken is admirable and audacious. He has tried to boil down the substrate of information-processing that underlies conscious experience to some very simple elements, in order to gain a better understanding of the phenomenon. Some people will suspect that by considering a model as simple as a connectionist network, Dan has thrown away everything that is interesting about consciousness. Perhaps there is something to that complaint, but I will take a different tack. It seems (...) to me that if we apply his own reasoning, we can see that Dan has not taken things far _enough_. When we have boiled things down to a system as simple as a connectionist network, it seems faint-hearted to stop there, and perhaps a little arbitrary as well. So I will take things further, and ask what seems to be the really interesting question in the vicinity: what is it like to be a thermostat? (shrink)
Taking Ourselves Seriously and Getting It Right is written in a manner that is accessible to all. Frankfurt’s arguments are, as usual, clear and persuasive. Korsgaard’s, Bratman’s, and Dan-Cohen’s comments are thought provoking. There are, however, two main areas in which Frankfurt’s arguments need clarification (the notion of wholehearted identification, and the concept of ambivalence), and there are misunderstandings of Frankfurt at work in Korsgaard’s (relationship between the self and the will, and concept of the will for Frankfurt) and Bratman’s (...) (meaning of "necessity" for Frankfurt) comments. (shrink)
ABSTRACT. The following is an email interchange that took place between Dan Dennett and myself in the period 14th to 28th June, 2001. The discussion tries to clarify some essential features of the "heterophenomenology" developed in his book Consciousness Explained (1996), and how this differs from a form of "critical phenomenology" implicit in my own book Understanding Consciousness (2000), and developed in my edited Investigating Phenomenal Consciousness: new methodologies and maps (2000). The departure point for the discussion is a paper (...) posted on Dan's website that summarises a related debate between Dan, David Chalmers and Alvin Goldman (Dennett, 2001). To make the discussion easier to follow, the multiple embeddings have been removed (restoring the sequence in which the comments were written). I have also corrected a few typos and grammatical errors. However, the text of the emails remains exactly the same. In Round 1, I suggest that scientific investigations of consciousness are better described as a form of "critical phenomenology" that accepts conscious experiences to be real rather than as a "heterophenomenology" which remains neutral about or denies their existence. Dan replies that I have misunderstood his position - he doesn't deny that conscious experiences exist. Conscious experiences just don't have the first-person phenomenal properties that they are commonly thought to have and, in his view, science remains neutral about the nature of such properties. In Round 2, I agree with Dan that science initially remains neutral about how to understand the nature of conscious experiences. Nevertheless, the phenomenology of consciousness provides the data that scientists are trying to understand. A better understanding of data does not, in general, make the data disappear. I also ask, "if you remove the phenomena from phenomenal consciousness, in what sense is whatever remains "consciousness"? And, if one removes all the phenomenal content from what one takes consciousness to be, doesn't this amount to a denial of the existence of "consciousness" in any ordinary sense of this term? Dan's reply likens beliefs in phenomenal properties to the belief in evil spirits causing disease. He has no doubts that diseases such as whooping cough and tuberculosis are real, but this doesn't require him to believe in evil spirits. And, what's left, once one removes phenomenal properties, is what a zombie and a so-called conscious person have in common: a given set of functional properties that enable them to carry out the tasks we normally think of as conscious. In Round 3, I summarise our similarities and differences. We agree that first-person reports are not incorrigible and that third-person information may throw light on how to interpret them. We also agree that first-person reports are reports of "something", although we disagree about the nature of that something. I suggest that Dan is sceptical about first-person reports rather than heterophenomenologically "neutral" (e.g. when he likens belief in phenomenal properties to belief in evil spirits). While we agree that science is likely to deepen our understanding of consciousness, I repeat that, unlike the replacement of old theories by better theories, a deeper understanding of phenomena does not in general replace the phenomena themselves. Rather than third-person data replacing first-person reports, the former are required to make sense of the latter, making their relationship complementary and mutually irreducible. In fact, there are many cases where science takes the reality of first-person phenomenology seriously, for example in the extensive literature on pain and its alleviation. If this can't be squeezed into an exclusively third-person view of science, then we will just have to adjust our view of science - something that a "critical phenomenology" achieves at little cost. At the time of this editing, Dan has not replied. . Reference. Dennett, D. (2001) The fantasy of first-person science. http://ase.tufts.edu/cogstud/pubpage.htm. (shrink)
Upshot: Is lived experience always the experience of a self? The central thesis of Dan Zahavi’s book is that there is a “minimal” or “core” self, according to which a quality of “self-givenness” is a constitutive feature of experience. The adoption of a dynamic phenomenological perspective leads us to call this thesis into question.
Reply to Dan Robins’s Review Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-3 DOI 10.1007/s11712-012-9275-0 Authors Ian Johnston, GPO Box 811, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia 7001 Journal Dao Online ISSN 1569-7274 Print ISSN 1540-3009.