Existentialist Ontology and HumanConsciousness The majority of the distinguished scholarly articles in this volume focus on Sartre's early philosophical work, which dealt first with imagination and the emotions, then with the critique of Husserl's notion of a transcendental ego, and finally with systematic ontology presented in his best-known book, Being and Nothingness. In addition, since his preoccupation with ontological questions and especially with the meanings of ego, self, and consciousness endured throughout his career, other essays discuss (...) these themes in light of later developments both in Sartre's own thought and in the phenomenological, hermeneutic, and analytic traditions. (shrink)
& Functional brain imaging offers new opportunities for the begin with single-subject (preprocessed) scan series, and study of that most pervasive of cognitive conditions, human consider the patterns of all voxels as potential multivariate consciousness. Since consciousness is attendant to so much encodings of phenomenal information. Twenty-seven subjects of human cognitive life, its study requires secondary analysis from the four studies were analyzed with multivariate of multiple experimental datasets. Here, four preprocessed methods, revealing analogues of phenomenal (...) structures, datasets from the National fMRI Data Center are considered: particularly the structures of temporality. In a second Hazeltine et al., Neural activation during response competi- interpretive approach, artificial neural networks were used tion; Ishai et al., The representation of objects in the human to detect a more explicit prediction from phenomenology, occipital and temporal cortex; Mechelli et al., The effects of namely, that present experience contains and is inflected by presentation rate during word and pseudoword reading; and past states of awareness and anticipated events. In all of 21 Postle et al., Activity in human frontal cortex associated with subjects in this analysis, nets were successfully trained to spatial working memory and saccadic behavior. The study of extract aspects of relative past and future brain states, in consciousness also draws from multiple disciplines. In this comparison with statistically similar controls. This exploratory article, the philosophical subdiscipline of phenomenology study thus concludes that the proposed methods for provides initial characterization of phenomenal structures ‘‘neurophenomenology’’ warrant further application, includ- conceptually necessary for an analysis of consciousness. These ing the exploration of individual differences, multivariate structures include phenomenal intentionality, phenomenal differences between cognitive task conditions, and explora- superposition, and experienced temporality.. (shrink)
The study of human evolution has attracted scientists of various disciplines, judging by the attendance of the conferences devoted to it, and by the publications concerned. In the course of years I became amazed about the seeming absence of a synthesis of the available information. This article presents an attempt to combine some results of the various publications.The study of human evolution has become particularly focussed on the emergence of language and humanconsciousness with respect to (...) the social behaviour and mental capacities of our closest relatives: the apes. Social relations imply communication, and mentation underlies the ability to communicate. The more it becomes apparent that the social behaviour of the apes resembles that of man in many respects, the greater the danger that typically, and perhaps even uniquely, human traits are ascribed to anthropoids. Anthropomorphic descriptions of animal behaviour tend to prevent a clear view on animal mentality. (shrink)
Nowadays the real threat has appeared: "thinking man" will disappear from the planet, and his place will be taken by "information consuming man." The rapidly evolving spiritually dependent consumer will turn into a completely controlled human being. A value orientation that we did not create will entirely determine all our choices and dominate our attention. Both the values and the products of mass culture are being spread among consumers as extensively as possible by mechanisms of culture manufacture, in accord (...) with the technological opportunities of the modern culture industry, connected in many ways with the mass media, and are being consumed on the same level as other products offered in the modern market. It becomes clear that the ecology of consciousness, along with the ecology of human life, is the most urgent and the most current problem of contemporary society.The main tasks of a global ecology of consciousness are to understand the conditional character of the external system of values and the radical reorientation that is appropriate to it; to create a culture of life as the realization of the original boundlessly disclosing free spirit, manifested in the encounter of man and world; and to return from captivity to imaginary things to life as dialogue with the world. First of all it is necessary to advance to a deep ecological understanding of the world—an understanding of nature, completed in the "noosphere," as the unique and perfect home of humanconsciousness. When a human being recognizes "the internal eco-crisis" and discovers the chaos and senselessness behind the imaginary clarity, he inevitably realizes the necessity for radical changes. His activity is initiated by the deepest satisfaction accompanying the expansion of the bounds of perception. We are speaking about the integral human being, personifying in himself both nature and civilization at the point of their intersection, removing the contradictions between the physical and the spiritual, between naturalness and technological progress. (shrink)
The paper introduces the field of consciousness studies to an audience outside of philosophy and the cognitive sciences, using the work of the late David Brooks as a starting point. Brooks' account of consciousness, and the cognitive and evolutionary significance of for-the-organism properties, are discussed. Brooks' account is evaluated in the light of the debate over conscious inessentialism; and alternative lines for developing Brooks' account are proposed, drawing on the work of Gerald Edelman.
This book is a philosophical examination of the main stages in our journey from hominid to human. It deals with the nature and origin of language, the self, self-consciousness, and the religious ideal of a return to Eden. It approaches these topics through a philosophical anthropology derived from the later writings of Wittgenstein. The result is an account of our place in nature consistent with both a hard-headed empiricism and a this-worldy but religiously significant mysticism.
In recent years, philosophers have shown a rapidly increasing interest in the problem of consciousness and it is arguably the central issue in current interdisciplinary discussions about the mind. Any convincing theory of consciousness has to account for the perplexing aspects of human self-consciousness. This paper deals with Ibn Sina’s view on the human self-consciousness with special reference to his well-known “Flying Man” thought experiment. In a brief comparative discussion, we will consider some of (...) the parallels between Ibn Sina’s account of “consciousness of consciousness” and the contemporary “higher-order” theories of consciousness. An important point of divergence between Ibn Sina’s line of argument and Descartes’ method over the problem of self-consciousness will be examined, as well. Further, Thomas Nagel’s famous view on the subjective character of conscious experience will be mentioned and compared with the implications of Ibn Sina’s dictum that “our self-consciousness is identical to our existence”. (shrink)
The fascination of Velasquez's painting Las Meninas stems largely from the ambiguous relationship between the painting as a whole, viewed by a single perceiver, and the variety of different perceptual viewpoints it invites. This situation resonates strongly with a central puzzle in the study of consciousness: the apparent unity of perceptual experience despite multiple sense modalities. Understanding more of this latter might help to explain the way we respond to the painting.
Children seem to have a profound implicit knowledge of human behaviour, because they laugh at Bugs Bunny cartoons where much of the humour depends on animals behaving like humans and our intuitive recognition that this is absurd. Scientists, on the other hand, have problems defining what this 'human difference' is. I suggest these problems are of cultural origin. For example, the industrial revolution and the protestant work ethic have created a world in which work is valued over play, (...) object intelligence over social intelligence, and science and technology over the arts. This may explain why we have so many imaging studies of tool-use and object manipulation, but only four studies of dance, two of pretend play, and one of role-play. Yet in order to understand child development, the evolution of the brain, and the emergence of human self-consciousness, we need to look at social displays-- such as dance, song, image-making and role-play-- which underpin human culture, cooperation and the arts. I will discuss recent brain imaging research on playful versus instrumental behaviour and show how, in conjunction with archaeological data, we can use this to make sense of human evolution. (shrink)
What is the potential for improvements in the functioning of consciousness? The paper addresses this issue using global workspace theory. According to this model, the prime function of consciousness is to develop novel adaptive responses. Consciousness does this by putting together new combinations of knowledge, skills and other disparate resources that are recruited from throughout the brain. The paper's search for potential improvements in consciousness is aided by studies of a developmental transition that enhances functioning in (...) whichever domain it occurs. This transition involves a shift from the use of procedural (implicit) knowledge to declarative (explicit) knowledge. However, the potential of the transition to enhance functioning has not yet been realised to any extent in relation to consciousness itself. The paper assesses the potential for consciousness to use declarative knowledge to improve its own functioning and to thereby enhance human adaptability. A number of sources (including the practices of religious and contemplative traditions) are drawn on to investigate how this potential might be realised. (shrink)
Consciousness is typically construed as being explainable purely in terms of either private, raw feels or higher-order, reflective representations. In contrast to this false dichotomy, we propose a new view of consciousness as an interactive, plastic phenomenon open to sociocultural influence. We take up our account of consciousness from the observation of radical cortical neuroplasticity in human development. Accordingly, we draw upon recent research on macroscopic neural networks, including the “default mode”, to illustrate cases in which (...) an individual’s particular “connectome” is shaped by encultured social practices that depend upon and influence phenomenal and reflective consciousness. On our account, the dynamically interacting connectivity of these networks bring about important individual differences in conscious experience and determine what is “present” in consciousness. Further, we argue that the organization of the brain into discrete anti-correlated networks supports the phenomenological distinction of prereflective and reflective consciousness, but we emphasize that this finding must be interpreted in light of the dynamic, category-resistant nature of consciousness. Our account motivates philosophical and empirical hypotheses regarding the appropriate time-scale and function of neuroplastic adaptation, the relation of high and low frequency neural activity to consciousness and cognitive plasticity, and the role of ritual social practices in neural development and cognitive function. (shrink)
This paper examines how Nietzsche’s view of the mind and its relationship to nature informs his account of human agency. In particular, it focuses on his approach to the causal efficacy of conscious mental states. By examining the Leibnizean and Kantian background to this approach, I contend that Nietzsche proposes a naturalist but non-eliminativist account of mind, central to which is his anti-Cartesian denial that consciousness is intrinsic to the mental. However, Nietzsche ultimately oscillates between two accounts: the (...) first, which I call the ‘enchantment thesis,’ sacrifices the extrinsicality of consciousness but secures the causal efficacy of conscious mental states, whilst the second avoids enchanting nature, securing the extrinsicality of consciousness but sacrificing its causal efficacy. I argue that it is possible to reconstruct his arguments to combine elements of the conflicting accounts and to successfully hold together his anti-Cartesian account of mind with the possibility of autonomous human action. (shrink)
Consciousness is a central theme of Susanne Langer's three-volume work Mind: An essay on human feeling. Langer proposes an evolutionary history of consciousness in order to establish a biological vocabulary for discussing the subject. This vocabulary is based on the qualities of organic processes rather than generic material objects. Her historical scenario and new terminology suggest that Langer views the “cash value” of consciousness in terms of symbolic thinking and aesthetics. This paper provides an overview of (...) Langer's proposed evolutionary scenario of consciousness, along with an examination of her process-oriented philosophy of mind. It is suggested that Langer's basic ideas are importantly similar to those present in dynamical systems theory. As research on consciousness in dynamical systems theory is still young, researchers in this field may find in Langer's work ideas for future exploration, particularly in its connection with aesthetics. (shrink)
The best reason for believing that robots might some day become conscious is that we human beings are conscious, and we are a sort of robot ourselves. That is, we are extraordinarily complex self-controlling, self-sustaining physical mechanisms, designed over the eons by natural selection, and operating according to the same well-understood principles that govern all the other physical processes in living things: digestive and metabolic processes, self-repair and reproductive processes, for instance. It may be wildly over-ambitious to suppose that (...)human artificers can repeat Nature's triumph, with variations in material, form, and design process, but this is not a deep objection. It is not as if a conscious machine contradicted any fundamental laws of nature, the way a perpetual motion machine does. Still, many skeptics believe--or in any event want to believe--that it will never be done. I wouldn't wager against them, but my reasons for skepticism are mundane, economic reasons, not theoretical reasons. (shrink)
In the beginning: introduction -- This I believe: preview -- This they believe: other views -- Where it begins: anatomy and environment -- Where it began: evolution -- What is it?: consciousness -- There was the word: self-consciousness and language -- See here: attention -- Perhaps to dream: sleep -- x=2y: representation -- The dance of life: movement -- They all fall down: dissolution of function -- Been there, done that: experience -- Which have eyes and see not: (...) stimulus hierarchy -- Buy one, get one free: volition -- Play it again: speculative reprise -- In the end: conclusion. (shrink)
Philosophy studies the relation between random, routine, and reflective thought and action. It is in essence the reflective study of routine. No one can survive a random world, but a routine world will generate the same randomness it is intended to avoid owing to the inevitable errors associated with routines. The prime function of reflective inquiry is to identify and explain the logical foundation of these errors. While governments depend on strict routine to prevent anarchy, it is only with the (...) maintenance and adaptive revision of those routines that they are able to serve that purpose. Thus philosophy is essential even to preserve routine, aside from facilitating the building of better routines. To advance global understanding philosophers need to use informal means to communicate to all people everywhere the distinction between randomness and routine, and the transcending of routine by reflective study. I add a concluding note of advocacy for UNESCO’s Strategy on Philosophy. (shrink)
The standard behavioral index for humanconsciousness is the ability to report events with accuracy. While this method is routinely used for scientific and medical applications in humans, it is not easy to generalize to other species. Brain evidence may lend itself more easily to comparative testing. Humanconsciousness involves widespread, relatively fast low-amplitude interactions in the thalamocortical core of the brain, driven by current tasks and conditions. These features have also been found in other mammals, (...) which suggests that consciousness is a major biological adaptation in mammals. We suggest more than a dozen additional properties of humanconsciousness that may be used to test comparative predictions. Such homologies are necessarily more remote in non-mammals, which do not share the thalamocortical complex. However, as we learn more we may be able to make “deeper” predictions that apply to some birds, reptiles, large-brained invertebrates, and perhaps other species. (shrink)
Non-invasive neuroimaging in humans permits direct investigation of the potential role for mesodiencephalic structures in consciousness. Activity in the superior colliculus can be correlated with the contents of consciousness, but it can be also identified for stimuli of which the subject is unaware; and consciousness of some types of visual stimuli may not require the superior colliculus. (Published Online May 1 2007).
The human ability to represent, conceptualize, and reason about mind and behavior is one of the greatest achievements of human evolution and is made possible by a “folk theory of mind” — a sophisticated conceptual framework that relates different mental states to each other and connects them to behavior. This chapter examines the nature and elements of this framework and its central functions for social cognition. As a conceptual framework, the folk theory of mind operates prior to any (...) particular conscious or unconscious cognition and provides the “framing” or interpretation of that cognition. Central to this framing is the concept of intentionality, which distinguishes intentional action (caused by the agent’s intention and decision) from unintentional behavior (caused by internal or external events without the intervention of the agent’s decision). A second important distinction separates publicly observable from publicly unobservable (i.e., mental) events. Together, the two distinctions define the kinds of events in social interaction that people attend to, wonder about, and try to explain. A special focus of this chapter is the powerful tool of behavior explanation, which relies on the folk theory of mind but is also intimately tied to social demands and to the perceiver’s social goals. A full understanding of social cognition must consider the folk theory of mind as the conceptual underpinning of all (conscious and unconscious) perception and thinking about the social world. (shrink)
This paper argues for the importance of inner speech in a proper understanding of the structure of human conscious experience. It reviews one recent attempt to build a model of inner speech based on a grammaticization model (Steels, 2003) and compares it with a self-regulation model here proposed. This latter model is located within the broader literature on the role of language in cognition and the inner voice in consciousness. I argue that this role is not limited to (...) checking the grammatical correctness of prospective utterances before they are spoken. Rather, it is a more broadly activity-structuring role, regulating and shaping the ongoing shape of human activity in the world. Through linking inner speech to the control of attention, I argue that the study of the functional role of inner speech should be a central area of analysis in our attempt to understand the development and qualitative character of humanconsciousness and that modelling can play a central role in that understanding. (shrink)
I challenge here the concept of SOC in regard to the question of the consciousness or unconsciousness of logical errors. My commentary offers support for the demonstration of how neuroimaging techniques might be used in the psychology of reasoning to test hypotheses about a potential hierarchy of levels of consciousness (and thus of partial unconsciousness) implemented in different brain networks.
Nicholas Maxwell takes on the ambitious project of explaining, both epistemologically and metaphysically, the physical universe and human existence within it. His vision is appealing; he unites the physical and the personal by means of the concepts of aim and value, which he sees as the keys to explaining traditional physical puzzles. Given the current popularity of theories of goal-oriented dynamical systems in biology and cognitive science, this approach is timely. But a large vision requires firm and nuanced arguments (...) to support it. Here Maxwell's work is weakest; his arguments for contingent mind-body identity and for free will, on which his larger theory depends, are inadequate. The book is valuable both for its comprehensive view of the human condition and its mysteries, and for its demonstration of the difficulties in making such a view coherent. (shrink)
Twentieth century philosophy and psychology have been peculiarly averse to mental images. Throughout nearly two and a half millennia of philosophical wrangling, from Aristotle to Hume to Bergson, images (perceptual and quasi-perceptual experiences), sometimes under the alias of "ideas", were almost universally considered to be both the prime contents of consciousness, and the vehicles of cognition. The founding fathers of experimental psychology saw no reason to dissent from this view, it was commonsensical, and true to the lived experience of (...) conscious thinking. However, early in this century, just about when the behaviorist revolution in psychology was loudly declaring the scientific illegitimacy of any attempt to study consciousness, and the concomitant non-existence of imagery (Watson, 1913; see Thomas, 1989), philosophy was undergoing its "linguistic turn", a turn to seeing philosophy as essentially about language rather than the world, even the 'inner' world. For decades, the very concept of the mental image was suspect, and it was certainly banished from playing any major role in theories of mind and of thinking. Ralph Ellis' Questioning Consciousness, together with the recent speculations of certain influential neuroscientists (Edelman, 1992; Damasio, 1994), may be signaling the end this unusual era. (shrink)
Because Western experiments assume creativity is an individual phenomenon and rarely investigate how trust and openness might build collective resonance, flow, and creativity, the creative whole typically amounts to less than the sum of the parts. The author argues, however, that group creativity increases as members develop, especially through Wilber's (in press) transpersonal stages. He illustrates how organizational leaders have facilitated creativity through reflective practice. Presenting evidence regarding the field effects of collective consciousness, he suggests that our minds and (...) hearts interact in subtle yet powerful ways, which leaders can intuit, to support the emergence of collaborative creativity. (shrink)
As stressed by Perruchet & Vinter, the SOC model echoes Johnson-Laird's mental model theory. Indeed, the latter rejects rule-based processing and assumes that reasoning is achieved through the manipulation of conscious representations. However, the mental model theory as well as its modified versions resorts to the abstraction of complex schemas and some form of implicit logic that seems incompatible with the SOC approach.
In order to solve the problem of the monstrous acts that an all-powerful, all-knowing God would daily be performing, we need to sever the God of Power from the God of Value. The former is the underlying dynamic unity in the physical universe, eternal, omnipresent, all-powerful, but an It, and thus not capable of knowing what It does. It can be forgiven the terrible things It does. The latter is what is of most value associated with our human world (...) - or the world of sentient life more generally. Having performed this surgical operation on God, the problem then becomes: How can we put the two halves of God together again? How can our human world, imbued with experiential qualities, consciousness, free will meaning and value, exist and best flourish, embedded as it is in the physical universe? This is our fundamental problem - philosophical, intellectual and practical. It is our fundamental religious problem. (shrink)
The irreducibility of language : the history of rhetoric in the age of typewriters -- The failures of empiricism : language, science, and the philosophical tradition -- What is a trope? : the discourse of metaphor and the language of the body -- The nervous systems of modern consciousness : metaphor, physiology, and mind -- Interpretation and life : outlines of an anthropology of knowledge.
Of all the problems facing science none are more challenging yet fascinating than those posed by consciousness. In The Science of Consciousness leading researchers examine how consciousness is being investigated in the key areas of cognitive psychology, neuropsychology and clinical psychology. Within cognitive psychology, special focus is given to the function of consciousness, and to the relation of conscious processing to nonconscious processing in perception, learning, memory and information dissemination. Neuropsychology includes examination of the neural conditions (...) for consciousness and the effects of brain damage. Finally, mind/body interactions in clinical and experimental settings are considered, including the somatic effects of imagery, biofeedback and placebo effects. Every chapter is written by an expert in the field. They each provide a clear overview of existing research along with an exciting new synthesis of consciousness studies. The The Science of Consciousness will be invaluable for students, researchers and clinicians interested in the developments and directions of this rapidly growing field. (shrink)
Understanding consciousness is a truly multidisciplinary project, attracting intense interest from researchers and theorists from diverse backgrounds. Thus, we now have computational scientists, neuroscientists, and philosophers all engaged in the same effort. This book draws together the work of leading researchers around the world, providing insights from these three general perspectives. The work is highlighted by a rare look at work being conducted by Japanese researchers.
This paper addresses the relationship between humans and nature as it relates to the ability of human societies to solve large-scale environmental problems. We assert that humans are not unique in their relationship with nature; all species have the ability to externalize their being into the world thus creating environmental problems. We also argue that humanconsciousness and rationality do not provide ready answers to these problems. Unless we better understand the pretheoretical and pragmatic nature of (...) class='Hi'>humanconsciousness, rational/scientific attempts to deal with large-scale environmental problems will fail. We use a framework derived from Schutzian phenomenology to explain how humanconsciousness both provides the motivation for creating environmental problems and also impedes any real solutions. Thus, we explore a dialectic of humanconsciousness that has profound implications for discussions about the ability of humans to solve environmental problems. (shrink)