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Profile: Max Velmans (Goldsmiths College, University of London)
  1. Max Velmans, Defining Consciousness.
    The following extracts with connecting comments suggest a departure point for a definitions of consciousness that preserves its everyday phenomenology while allowing an understanding of what consciousness is to deepen as scientific investigation proceeds. I argue that current definitions are often theory-driven rather than following the contours of ordinary experience. Consequently they are sometimes too broad, sometimes too narrow, and sometimes not definitions of phenomenal consciousness at all. As an alternative, an ecologically valid, reflexive approach to consciousness is suggested that (...)
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  2. Max Velmans (forthcoming). What Makes a Conscious Process Conscious? Behavioral and Brain Sciences:43-44.
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  3. Max Velmans (2012). Reflexive Monism Psychophysical Relations Among Mind, Matter, and Consciousness. Journal of Consciousness Studies 19 (9-10):9-10.
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  4. Max Velmans, Yujin Nagasawa, In M. Velmans & Y. Nagasawa (2012). Introduction to Monist Alternatives to Physicalism. Journal of Consciousness Studies 19 (9):7.
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  5. Max Velmans (2011). A Brief Note on How Phenomenal Objects Relate to Objects Themselves. Journal of Consciousness Studies 18 (11-12):11-12.
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  6. Max Velmans (2011). Can Evolutionary Theory Explain the Existence of Consciousness? A Review of Humphrey, N.(2010) Soul Dust: The Magic of Consciousness. London: Quercus, ISBN 9781849162371. Journal of Consciousness Studies 18 (11-12):243-254.
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  7. Max Velmans (2010). The Evolution of Consciousness. In Michel Weber & Anderson Weekes (eds.), Process Approaches to Consciousness in Psychology, Neuroscience, and Philosophy of Mind. State University of New York Press.
     
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  8. Max Velmans (2009). How to Define Consciousness: And How Not to Define Consciousness. Journal of Consciousness Studies 16 (5):139-156.
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  9. Max Velmans (2009). Understanding Consciousness, Edition 2. Routledge/Psychology Press.
    A current, comprehensive summary of Velmans' theoretical work that updates and deepens the analysis given in Edition 1. Part 1 reviews the strengths and weaknesses of all currently dominant theories of consciousness in a form suitable for undergraduates, postgraduates and researchers focusing mainly on dualism, physicalism, functionalism and consciousness in machines. Part 2 gives a new analysis of consciousness, grounded in its everyday phenomenology, which undermines the basis of the dualism versus reductionist debate. It also examines the consequences for realism (...)
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  10. Max Velmans (2008). Die Koevolution von Materie und Bewusstsein. Synthesis Philosophica 22 (2):273-282.
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  11. Max Velmans (2008). La Co-Évolution de la Matière Et de la Conscience. Synthesis Philosophica 22 (2):273-282.
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  12. Zara M. Bergström, Max Velmans, Jan de Fockert & Alan Richardson-Klavehn (2007). ERP Evidence for Successful Voluntary Avoidance of Conscious Recollection. Brain Research 1151:119-133.
  13. Susan Schneider & Max Velmans (eds.) (2007). Companion to Consciousness. Blackwell.
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  14. Max Velmans (2007). An Epistemology for the Study of Consciousness. In Max Velmans & Susan Schneider (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness. Blackwell. 711--725.
    This is a prepublication version of the final chapter from the Blackwell Companion to Consciousness. In it I re-examine the basic conditions required for a study of conscious experiences in the light of progress made in recent years in the field of consciousness studies. I argue that neither dualist nor reductionist assumptions about subjectivity versus objectivity and the privacy of experience versus the public nature of scientific observations allow an adequate understanding of how studies of consciousness actually proceed. The chapter (...)
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  15. Max Velmans (2007). Dualism, Reductionism, and Reflexive Monism. In Max Velmans & Susan Schneider (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness. Blackwell.
     
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  16. Max Velmans (2007). How Experienced Phenomena Relate to Things Themselves: Kant, Husserl, Hoche, and Reflexive Monism. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 6 (3):411-423.
    What we normally think of as the “physical world” is also the world as experienced, that is, a world of appearances. Given this, what is the reality behind the appearances, and what might its relation be to consciousness and to constructive processes in the mind? According to Kant, the thing itself that brings about and supports these appearances is unknowable and we can never gain any understanding of how it brings such appearances about. Reflexive monism argues the opposite: the thing (...)
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  17. Max Velmans (2007). Heterophenomenology Vs. Critical Phenomenology. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 6 (1-2):221-230.
    Dennett’s heterophenomenology and the critical phenomenology that I outline may be thought of as competing accounts of a cautious approach to phenomenal description and method. One can be critical or cautious about how well or how reliably a subject can communicate his or her subjective experience in experimental settings, without for a moment doubting their existence or claiming them to be something completely different to how they seem. Given this, Dennett’s heterophenomenology with its accompanying “qualia denial” looks like nothing more (...)
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  18. Max Velmans (2007). Psychophysical Nature. In Harald Atmanspacher & Hans Primas (eds.), [Book Chapter] (in Press). Springer.
    There are two quite distinct ways in which events that we normally think of as “physical” relate in an intimate way to events that we normally think of as “psychological”. One intimate relation occurs in exteroception at the point where events in the world become events as-perceived. The other intimate relationship occurs at the interface of conscious experience with its neural correlates in the brain. The chapter examines each of these relationships and positions them within a dual-aspect, reflexive model of (...)
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  19. Max Velmans (2007). Reflexive Monism. [Journal (Paginated)] (in Press) 15 (2):5-50.
    Reflexive monism is, in essence, an ancient view of how consciousness relates to the material world that has, in recent decades, been resurrected in modern form. In this paper I discuss how some of its basic features differ from both dualism and variants of physicalist and functionalist reductionism, focusing on those aspects of the theory that challenge deeply rooted presuppositions in current Western thought. I pay particular attention to the ontological status and seeming “out-thereness” of the phenomenal world and to (...)
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  20. Max Velmans (2007). The Co-Evolution of Matter and Consciousness. Velmans, Prof Max (2007) the Co-Evolution of Matter and Consciousness. [Journal (Paginated)] 44 (2):273-282.
    Theories about the evolution of consciousness relate in an intimate way to theories about the distribution of consciousness, which range from the view that only human beings are conscious to the view that all matter is in some sense conscious. Broadly speaking, such theories can be classified into discontinuity theories and continuity theories. Discontinuity theories propose that consciousness emerged only when material forms reached a given stage of evolution, but propose different criteria for the stage at which this occurred. Continuity (...)
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  21. Max Velmans (2007). Where Experiences Are: Dualist, Physicalist, Enactive and Reflexive Accounts of Phenomenal Consciousness. [REVIEW] Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 6 (4):547-563.
    Dualists believe that experiences have neither location nor extension, while reductive and ‘non-reductive’ physicalists (biological naturalists) believe that experiences are really in the brain, producing an apparent impasse in current theories of mind. Enactive and reflexive models of perception try to resolve this impasse with a form of “externalism” that challenges the assumption that experiences must either be nowhere or in the brain. However, they are externalist in very different ways. Insofar as they locate experiences anywhere, enactive models locate conscious (...)
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  22. Max Velmans & Susan Schneider (eds.) (2007). A Companion to Consciousness. Blackwell.
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  23. Max Velmans & Susan Schneider (eds.) (2007). The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness. Blackwell Pub..
    With fifty-five peer reviewed chapters written by the leading authors in the field, The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness is the most extensive and comprehensive survey of the study of consciousness available today. Provides a variety of philosophical and scientific perspectives that create a breadth of understanding of the topic Topics include the origins and extent of consciousness, different consciousness experiences, such as meditation and drug-induced states, and the neuroscience of consciousness.
     
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  24. Anthony P. Atkinson, I. S. Baker, Susan J. Blackmore, William Braud, Jean E. Burns, R. H. S. Carpenter, Christopher J. S. Clarke, Ralph D. Ellis, David Fontana, Christopher C. French, D. Radin, M. Schlitz, Stefan Schmidt & Max Velmans (2005). Open Peer Commentary on 'the Sense of Being Stared At' Parts 1 &. Journal of Consciousness Studies 12 (6):50-116.
  25. Max Velmans (2004). Why Conscious Free Will Both is and Isn't an Illusion. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 27 (5):677.
    Wegner’s analysis of the illusion of conscious will is close to my own account of how conscious experiences relate to brain processes. But our analyses differ somewhat on how conscious will is not an illusion. Wegner argues that once conscious will arises it enters causally into subsequent mental processing. I argue that while his causal story is accurate, it remains a first-person story. Conscious free will is not an illusion in the sense that this first-person story is compatible with and (...)
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  26. Max Velmans (2003). Is the World in the Brain, or the Brain in the World? Behavioral and Brain Sciences 26 (4):427-429.
    Lehar provides useful insights into spatially extended phenomenology that may have major consequences for neuroscience. However, Lehar's biological naturalism leads to counterintuitive conclusions, and he does not give an accurate account of preceding and competing work. This commentary compares Lehar's analysis with that of Velmans, which addresses similar issues but draws opposite conclusions. Lehar argues that the phenomenal world is in the brain and concludes that the physical skull is beyond the phenomenal world. Velmans argues that the brain is in (...)
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  27. Max Velmans (2003). Preconscious Free Will. Journal of Consciousness Studies 10 (12):42-61.
    This paper responds to continuing commentary on Velmans (2002a) “How could conscious experiences affect brains,” a target article for a special issue of JCS. I focus on the final question dealt with by the target article: how free will relates to preconscious and conscious mental processing, and I develop the case for preconscious free will. Although “preconscious free will” might appear to be a contradiction in terms, it is consistent with the scientific evidence and provides a parsimonious way to reconcile (...)
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  28. Max Velmans (2002). Could Phenomenal Consciousness Function as a Cognitive Unconscious? Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25 (3):357-358.
    Evidence for unconscious semantic representation suggests that a cognitive unconscious exists. Phenomenal consciousness cannot easily be shown to deal with complex cognitive operations such as those involved in language translation and creativity. A self-organising phenomenal consciousness that controls brain functions also runs into mind/body problems (well recognised in the consciousness studies literature) that Perruchet & Vinter must address.
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  29. Max Velmans (2002). How Could Conscious Experiences Affect Brains? Journal of Consciousness Studies 9 (11):3-29.
    In everyday life we take it for granted that we have conscious control of some of our actions and that the part of us that exercises control is the conscious mind. Psychosomatic medicine also assumes that the conscious mind can affect body states, and this is supported by evidence that the use of imagery, hypnosis, biofeedback and other ‘mental interventions’ can be therapeutic in a variety of medical conditions. However, there is no accepted theory of mind/body interaction and this has (...)
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  30. Max Velmans (2002). Making Sense of Causal Interactions Between Consciousness and Brain. Journal of Consciousness Studies 9 (11):69-95.
    My target article (henceforth referred to as TA) presents evidence for causal interactions between consciousness and brain and some standard ways of accounting for this evidence in clinical practice and neuropsychological theory. I also point out some of the problems of understanding such causal interactions that are not addressed by standard explanations. Most of the residual problems have to do with how to cross the “explanatory gap” from consciousness to brain. I then list some of the reasons why the route (...)
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  31. Max Velmans (2001). A Natural Account of Phenomenal Consciousness. Communication and Cognition 34 (1):39-59.
    Physicalists commonly argue that conscious experiences are nothing more than states of the brain, and that conscious qualia are observer-independent, physical properties of the external world. Although this assumes the 'mantle of science,' it routinely ignores the findings of science, for example in sensory physiology, perception, psychophysics, neuropsychology and comparative psychology. Consequently, although physicalism aims to naturalise consciousness, it gives an unnatural account of it. It is possible, however, to develop a natural, nonreductive, reflexive model of how consciousness relates to (...)
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  32. Max Velmans, Heterophenomenogy Versus Critical Phenomenology: A Dialogue with Dan Dennett.
    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 (...)
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  33. Max Velmans (2000). A Psychologist's Map of Consciousness Studies. In , Investigating Phenomenal Consciousness: New Methodologies and Maps. John Benjamins. 333-358.
  34. Max Velmans (ed.) (2000). Investigating Phenomenal Consciousness: New Methodologies and Maps. John Benjamins.
  35. Max Velmans (ed.) (2000). Investigating Phenomenal Consciousness: New Methodologies and Maps. Advances in Consciousness Research, Vol. 13. John Benjamins.
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  36. Max Velmans (2000). Understanding Consciousness. Routledge.
    The mysteries of consciousness have gripped the human imagination for over 2,500 years. At the dawn of the new millennium, Understanding Consciousness provides new solutions to some of the deepest puzzles surrounding its nature and function. Drawing on recent scientific discoveries, Max Velmans challenges conventional reductionist thought, providing an understanding of how consciousness relates to the brain and physical world that is neither dualist, nor reductionist. Understanding Consciousness will be of great interest to psychologists, philosophers, neuroscientists and other professionals concerned (...)
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  37. Max Velmans (1999). Intersubjective Science. Journal of Consciousness Studies 6 (2-3):299-306.
    The study of consciousness in modern science is hampered by deeply ingrained, dualist presuppositions about the nature of consciousness. In particular, conscious experiences are thought to be private and subjective, contrasting with physical phenomena which are public and objective. In the present article, I argue that all observed phenomena are, in a sense, private to a given observer, although there are some events to which there is public access. Phenomena can be objective in the sense of intersubjective, investigators can be (...)
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  38. Max Velmans (1999). Neural Activation, Information, and Phenomenal Consciousness. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (1):172-173.
    O'Brien & Opie defend a “vehicle” rather than a “process” theory of consciousness largely on the grounds that only conscious information is “explicit.” I argue that preconscious and unconscious representations can be functionally explicit (semantically well-formed and causally active). I also suggest that their analysis of how neural activation space mirrors the information structure of phenomenal experience fits more naturally into a dual-aspect theory of information than into their reductive physicalism.
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  39. Max Velmans (1999). When Perception Becomes Conscious. British Journal Of Psychology 90 (4):543-566.
    The study of preconscious versus conscious processing has an extensive history in cognitive psychology, dating back to the writings of William James. Much of the experimental work on this issue has focused on perception, conceived of as input analysis, and on the relation of consciousness to attentional processing. The present paper examines when input analysis becomes conscious from the perspectives of cognitive modelling, methodology, and a more detailed understanding of what is meant by "conscious processing." Current evidence suggests that perception (...)
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  40. Max Velmans (1998). [Book Chapter].
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  41. Max Velmans (1998). Goodbye to Reductionism: Complementary First and Third-Person Approaches to Consciousness. In Stuart R. Hameroff, Alfred W. Kaszniak & A. C. Scott (eds.), Toward a Science of Consciousness II. MIT Press. 2--45.
    This chapter argues that dualist vs. reductionist debates adopt an implicit description of consciousness that does not resemble ordinary experience. If one adopts an accurate description of conscious phenomenology along with an understanding of the fundamental differences between correlation, causation and ontological identity, reductionism cannot succeed. However the alternative is not a dualism that places consciousness beyond science. Rather, it is a nonreductionist science of consciousness.
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  42. Max Velmans (1998). Goodbye to Reductionism. In Stuart R. Hameroff, Alfred W. Kaszniak & A. C. Scott (eds.), [Book Chapter]. Mit Press. 2--45.
    To understand consciousness we must first describe what we experience accurately. But oddly, current dualist vs reductionist debates characterise experience in ways which do not correspond to ordinary experience. Indeed, there is no other area of enquiry where the phenomenon to be studied has been so systematically misdescribed. Given this, it is hardly surprising that progress towards understanding the nature of consciousness has been limited.
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  43. Max Velmans (1998). Physical, Psychological and Virtual Realities. In Joanne A. Wood (ed.), [Book Chapter]. Routledge. 45-60.
    This chapter examines the similarities and differences between physical, psychological and virtual realities, and challenges some conventional, implicitly dualist assumptions about how these relate to each other. Virtual realities are not easily understood in either dualist or materialist reductive terms, as they exemplify the reflexive nature of perception. The chapter summarises some of the evidence for this “reflexive model”—and examines some of its consequences for the “hard” problem of consciousness. The chapter then goes on to consider how these realities might (...)
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  44. Max Velmans (1997). Is My Unconscious Somebody Else's Consciousness?: A Review of D.Chalmers (1996) the Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory, Oxford University Press. [REVIEW] .
    An evaluation of the strengths, weaknesses, and originality of Chalmer's book.
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  45. Max Velmans (1996). Consciousness and the "Causal Paradox". Behavioral and Brain Sciences 19 (3):538-542.
    Viewed from a first-person perspective consciousness appears to be necessary for complex, novel human activity - but viewed from a third-person perspective consciousness appears to play no role in the activity of brains, producing a "causal paradox". To resolve this paradox one needs to distinguish consciousness of processing from consciousness accompanying processing or causing processing. Accounts of consciousness/brain causal interactions switch between first- and third-person perspectives. However, epistemically, the differences between first- and third-person access are fundamental. First- and third-person accounts (...)
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  46. Max Velmans (1996). Introduction to the Science of Consciousness. In , The Science of Consciousness. Routledge.
     
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  47. Max Velmans (ed.) (1996). The Science of Consciousness: Psychological, Neuropsychological, and Clinical Reviews. Routledge.
    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 (...)
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  48. Max Velmans (1995). The Limits of Neuropsychological Models of Consciousness. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 18 (4):702-703.
    This commentary elaborates on Gray's conclusion that his neurophysiological model of consciousness might explain how consciousness arises from the brain, but does not address how consciousness evolved, affects behaviour or confers survival value. The commentary argues that such limitations apply to all neurophysiological or other third-person perspective models. To approach such questions the first-person nature of consciousness needs to be taken seriously in combination with third-person models of the brain.
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  49. Max Velmans (1995). The Relation of Consciousness to the Material World. Journal of Consciousness Studies 2 (3):255-65.
    Many of the arguments about how to address the hard versus the easy questions of consciousness put by Chalmers (1995) are similar to ones I have developed in Velmans (1991a,b; 1993a). This includes the multiplicity of mind/body problems, the limits of functional explanation, the need for a nonreductionist approach, and the notion that consciousness may be related to neural/physical representation via a dual-aspect theory of information. But there are also differences. Unlike Chalmers I argue for the use of neutral information (...)
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