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Profile: Ned Block (New York University)
  1. Ned Block, Consciousness.
    There are two broad classes of empirical theories of consciousness, which I will call the biological and the functional. The biological approach is based on empirical correlations between experience and the brain. For example, there is a great deal of evidence that the neural correlate of visual experience is activity in a set of occipetotemporal pathways, with special emphasis on the infero-temporal cortex. The functionalist approach is a successor of behaviorism, the view that mentality can be seen as tendencies to (...)
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  2. Ned Block (forthcoming). Consciousness, Big Science and Conceptual Clarity. In Gary Marcus & Jeremy Freeman (eds.), in The Future of the Brain: Essays by the World’s Leading Neuroscientists. Princeton University Press.
  3. Ned Block (forthcoming). Le fonctionnalisme face au problème Des qualia. Les Études Philosophiques.
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  4. Ned Block (forthcoming). The Canberra Plan Neglects Ground. In Terence Horgan, Marcelo Sabates & David Sosa (eds.), Qualia and Mental Causation in a Physical World: Themes from the Philosophy of Jaegwon Kim,. Cambridge University Press.
    This paper argues that the “Canberra Plan” picture of physicalistic reduction of mind--a picture shared by both its proponents and opponents, philosophers as diverse as David Armstrong, David Chalmers Frank Jackson, Jaegwon Kim, Joe Levine and David Lewis--neglects ground (Fine, 2001, 2012). To the extent that the point of view endorsed by the Canberra Plan has an account of the physical/functional ground of mind at all, it is in one version trivial and in another version implausible. In its most general (...)
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  5. Ned Block (2013). Seeing and Windows of Integration. Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 1 (4).
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  6. Ned Block (2013). The Grain of Vision and the Grain of Attention. Thought, A Journal of Philosophy 1 (2):170-184.
    Often when there is no attention to an object, there is no conscious perception of it either, leading some to conclude that conscious perception is an attentional phenomenon. There is a well-known perceptual phenomenon—visuo-spatial crowding, in which objects are too closely packed for attention to single out one of them. This article argues that there is a variant of crowding—what I call ‘‘identity-crowding’’—in which one can consciously see a thing despite failure of attention to it. This conclusion, together with new (...)
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  7. Ned Block & Susanna Siegel (2013). Attention and Perceptual Adaptation. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 36 (4):205-206.
  8. Ned Block (2012). Response to Kouider Et Al. : Which View is Better Supported by the Evidence? Trends in Cognitive Sciences 16 (3):141-142.
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  9. J. Kevin O'Regan & Ned Block (2012). Discussion of J. Kevin O'Regan's “Why Red Doesn't Sound Like a Bell: Understanding the Feel of Consciousness”. Review of Philosophy and Psychology 3 (1):89-108.
    Discussion of J. Kevin O’Regan’s “Why Red Doesn’t Sound Like a Bell: Understanding the Feel of Consciousness” Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-20 DOI 10.1007/s13164-012-0090-7 Authors J. Kevin O’Regan, Laboratoire Psychologie de la Perception, CNRS - Université Paris Descartes, Centre Biomédical des Saints Pères, 45 rue des Sts Pères, 75270 Paris cedex 06, France Ned Block, Departments of Philosophy, Psychology and Center for Neural Science, New York University, 5 Washington Place, New York, NY 10003, USA Journal Review of Philosophy and (...)
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  10. Naotsuga Tsuchiya, Ned Block & Christof Koch (2012). Top-Down Attention and Consciousness: Comment on Cohen, Et.Al. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 16 (11):527.
  11. Anthony Arak, William Ross Ashby, Francis Maler Bacon, Roger Bakeman, George Berkeley, Ned Block, Wolfgang Bonsiepen, Egon Brunswik, Josep Call & Donald Campbell (2011). Pers onenregister. In Wolfgang Welsch, Christian Tewes & Klaus Vieweg (eds.), Natur Und Geist: Über Ihre Evolutionäre Verhältnisbestimmung. Akademie Verlag.
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  12. Ned Block (2011). Perceptual Consciousness Overflows Cognitive Access. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 15 (12):567-575.
    One of the most important issues concerning the foundations ofconscious perception centerson thequestion of whether perceptual consciousness is rich or sparse. The overflow argument uses a form of ‘iconic memory’ toarguethatperceptual consciousnessisricher (i.e.,has a higher capacity) than cognitive access: when observing a complex scene we are conscious of more than we can report or think about. Recently, the overflow argumenthas been challenged both empirically and conceptually. This paper reviews the controversy, arguing that proponents of sparse perception are committed to the (...)
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  13. Ned Block (2011). The Anna Karenina Theory of the Unconscious. Neuropsychoanalysis 13 (1):34-37.
    The Anna Karenina Theory says: all conscious states are alike; each unconscious state is unconscious in its own way. This note argues that many components have to function properly to produce consciousness, but failure in any one of many different ones can yield an unconscious state in different ways. In that sense the Anna Karenina theory is true. But in another respect it is false: kinds of unconsciousness depend on kinds of consciousness.
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  14. Ned Block (2011). The Higher Order Approach to Consciousness is Defunct. Analysis 71 (3):419 - 431.
    The higher order approach to consciousness attempts to build a theory of consciousness from the insight that a conscious state is one that the subject is conscious of. There is a well-known objection1 to the higher order approach, a version of which is fatal. Proponents of the higher order approach have realized that the objection is significant. They have dealt with it via what David Rosenthal calls a “retreat” (2005b, p. 179) but that retreat fails to solve the problem.
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  15. Ned Block (2010). Attention and Mental Paint1. Philosophical Issues 20 (1):23-63.
    Much of recent philosophy of perception is oriented towards accounting for the phenomenal character of perception—what it is like to perceive—in a non-mentalistic way—that is, without appealing to mental objects or mental qualities. In opposition to such views, I claim that the phenomenal character of perception of a red round object cannot be explained by or reduced to direct awareness of the object, its redness and roundness—or representation of such objects and qualities. Qualities of perception that are not captured by (...)
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  16. Ned Block (2009). Comparing the Major Theories of Consciousness. In Michael Gazzaniga (ed.), The Cognitive Neurosciences IV. 1111-1123.
    This article compares the three frameworks for theories of consciousness that are taken most seriously by neuroscientists, the view that consciousness is a biological state of the brain, the global workspace perspective and an account in terms of higher order states. The comparison features the “explanatory gap” (Nagel, 1974; Levine, 1983) the fact that we have no idea why the neural basis of an experience is the neural basis of that experience rather than another experience or no experience at all. (...)
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  17. Blade Runner, Isaac Asimov, Andy Clark, Ned Block & Daniel C. Dennett (2009). Mind: Natural, Artificial, Hybrid, and “Super”. In Susan Schneider (ed.), Science Fiction and Philosophy: From Time Travel to Superintelligence. Wiley-Blackwell.
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  18. Ned Block (2008). Anti-Reductionism Slaps Back. Noûs 31 (s11):107-132.
    For nearly thirty years, there has been a consensus (at least in English-speaking countries) that reductionism is a mistake and that there are autonomous special sciences. This consensus has been based on an argument from multiple realizability. But Jaegwon Kim has argued persuasively that the multiple realizability argument is flawed.1 I will sketch the recent history of the debate, arguing that much --but not all--of the anti-reductionist consensus survives Kim's critique. This paper was originally titled "Anti-Reductionism Strikes Back", but in (...)
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  19. Ned Block (2008). Consciousness and Cognitive Access. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 108 (1pt3):289-317.
    This article concerns the interplay between two issues that involve both philosophy and neuroscience: whether the content of phenomenal consciousness is 'rich' or 'sparse', whether phenomenal consciousness goes beyond cognitive access, and how it would be possible for there to be evidence one way or the other.
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  20. Ned Block (2008). Phenomenal and Access Consciousness Ned Block and Cynthia MacDonald: Consciousness and Cognitive Access. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 108:289 - 317.
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  21. Ned Block (2007). Consciousness, Accessibility, and the Mesh Between Psychology and Neuroscience. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 30 (5):481--548.
    How can we disentangle the neural basis of phenomenal consciousness from the neural machinery of the cognitive access that underlies reports of phenomenal consciousness? We can see the problem in stark form if we ask how we could tell whether representations inside a Fodorian module are phenomenally conscious. The methodology would seem straightforward: find the neural natural kinds that are the basis of phenomenal consciousness in clear cases when subjects are completely confident and we have no reason to doubt their (...)
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  22. Ned Block (2007). Overflow, Access, and Attention. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 30 (5-6):530-548.
    In this response to 32 commentators, I start by clarifying the overflow argument. I explain why the distinction between generic and specific phenomenology is important and why we are justified in acknowledging specific phenomenology in the overflow experiments. Other issues discussed are the relations among report, cognitive access, and attention; panpsychic disaster; the mesh between psychology and neuroscience; and whether consciousness exists.
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  23. Ned Block (2007). Wittgenstein and Qualia. Philosophical Perspectives 21 (1):73-115.
    (Wittgenstein, 1968) endorsed one kind of inverted spectrum hypothesis and rejected another. This paper argues that the kind of inverted spectrum hypothesis that Wittgenstein endorsed (the "innocuous" inverted spectrum hypothesis) is the thin end of the wedge that precludes a Wittgensteinian critique of the kind of inverted spectrum hypothesis he rejected (the "dangerous" kind). The danger of the dangerous kind is that it provides an argument for qualia, where qualia are (for the purposes of this paper) contents of (...)
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  24. Ned Block (2007). Consciousness, Function, and Representation: Collected Papers, Volume. Oxford University Press.
    The first of a planned two-volume collection of Ned Block's writings on philosophy of mind; this volume treats consciousness, functionalism, and representation ...
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  25. Sid Kouider, Vincent de Gardelle, Emmanuel Dupoux & Ned Block (2007). Partial Awareness and the Illusion of Phenomenal Consciousness. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 30 (5):510-510.
    The dissociation Block provides between phenomenal and access consciousness (P-consciousness and A-consciousness) captures much of our intuition about conscious experience. However, it raises a major methodological puzzle, and is not uniquely supported by the empirical evidence. We provide an alternative interpretation based on the notion of levels of representation and partial awareness.
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  26. Rafael Malach & Ned Block (2007). The Measurement Problem in Consciousness Research. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 30 (5):516-517.
    States of sensory absorption may offer a means to disentangle perception from report. Interestingly, such states lead to an antagonistic relationship between perceptual and cognitive-access networks, suggesting that perceptual awareness does not depend on a read-out by high order cognitive-access mechanisms. Rather, it may emerge internally, through a cooperative coding dynamics, whereby each neuron simultaneously represents and reads-out the perceptual awareness state.
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  27. Ned Block (2006). Max Black's Objection to Mind-Body Identity. Oxford Review of Metaphysics 3:3-78.
    considered an objection (Objection 3) that he says he thought was first put to him by Max Black. He says.
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  28. Ned Block (2005). Area MT/V5 in a Bottle? Trends in Cognitive Sciences 9 (2):46-52.
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  29. Ned Block (2005). Alva Noe¨: Action in Perception. Journal of Philosophy 102 (5).
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  30. Ned Block (2005). Bodily Sensations as an Obstacle for Representationism. In Murat Aydede (ed.), Pain: New Essays on its Nature and the Methodology of its Study. Cambridge Ma: Bradford Book/Mit Press. 137-142.
    Representationism1, as I use the term, says that the phenomenal character of an experience just is its representational content, where that representational content can itself be understood and characterized without appeal to phenomenal character. Representationists seem to have a harder time handling pain than visual experience. (I say 'seem' because in my view, representationists cannot actually handle either type of experience successfully, but I will put that claim to one side here.) I will argue that Michael Tye's (2004) heroic attempt (...)
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  31. Ned Block (2005). Review of Alva Noe, Action in Perception. [REVIEW] Journal of Philosophy 102:259-272.
    This is a charming and engaging book that combines careful attention to the phenomenology of experience with an appreciation of the psychology and neuroscience of perception. In some of its aimsfor example, to show problems with a rigid version of a view of visual perception as an inverse optics process of constructing a static 3-D representation from static 2-D information on the retina--it succeeds admirably. As No points out, vision is a process that depends on interactions between the perceiver and (...)
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  32. Ned Block (2005). The Merely Verbal Problem of Consciousness. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 9 (6):270.
  33. Ned Block (2004). Qualia. In Richard L. Gregory (ed.), Oxford Companion to the Mind. Oxford University Press.
    Qualia include the ways things look, sound and smell, the way it feels to have a pain; more generally, what it's like to have mental states. Qualia are experiential properties of sensations, feelings, perceptions and, in my view, thoughts and desires as well. But, so defined, who could deny that qualia exist? Yet, the existence of qualia is controversial. Here is what is controversial: whether qualia, so defined, can be characterized in intentional, functional or purely (...)
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  34. Ned Block, Christof Koch & Phil Merikle (2004). Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness (ASSC) The ASSC William James Prize for Contributions to the Study of Consciousness. Consciousness and Cognition 13:211.
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  35. Ned Block (2003). Consciousness, Philosophical Issues About. In L. Nadel (ed.), Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science. Nature Publishing Group.
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  36. Ned Block (2003). Do Causal Powers Drain Away. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 67 (1):133-150.
    In this note, I will discuss one issue concerning the main argument of Mind in a Physical World (Kim, 1998), the Causal Exclusion Argument. The issue is whether it is a consequence of the Causal Exclusion Argument that all macro level causation (that is, causation above the level of fundamental physics) is an illusion, with all of the apparent causal powers of mental and other macro properties draining into the bottom level of physics. I will argue that such a consequence (...)
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  37. Ned Block (2003). Mental Paint. In Martin Hahn & B. Ramberg (eds.), Reflections and Replies: Essays on the Philosophy of Tyler Burge. Mit Press. 165--200.
    The greatest chasm in the philosophy of mind--maybe even all of philosophy-- divides two perspectives on consciousness. The two perspectives differ on whether there is anything in the phenomenal character of conscious experience that goes beyond the intentional, the cognitive and the functional. A convenient terminological handle on the dispute is whether there are.
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  38. Ned Block (2003). Philosophical Issues About Consciousness. In L. Nadel (ed.), Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science. Nature Publishing Group.
    There are a number of different matters that come under the heading of ‘consciousness’. One of them is phenomenality, the feeling of say a sensation of red or a pain, that is what it is like to have such a sensation or other experience. Another is reflection on phenomenality. Imagine two infants, both of which have pain, but only one of which has a thought about that pain. Both would have phenomenal states, but only the latter would have a state (...)
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  39. Ned Block (2003). Searle's Arguments Against Cognitive Science. In John M. Preston & Michael A. Bishop (eds.), Views Into the Chinese Room: New Essays on Searle and Artificial Intelligence. Oxford University Press. 70--79.
     
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  40. Ned Block (2003). Spatial Perception Via Tactile Sensation. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 7 (7):285-286.
    I’m now looking at a soccer ball and a Nintendo Game Cube, and thus am having a perceptual experience of a sphere and a cube. My friend, blind from birth, (who’s helping me with the cleaning) is touching these items, and is thus having a perceptual experience of the same things. Not only are we perceiving the same items, but in doing so we apply the terms ‘sphere’ and ‘cube’, respectively, to them. Are we, in doing so, applying the same, (...)
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  41. Ned Block (2003). The Mind as Software in the Brain. In John Heil (ed.), Philosophy of Mind: A Guide and Anthology. Oup Oxford.
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  42. Ned Block (2003). Tactile Sensation Via Spatial Perception. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 7 (7):285-286.
  43. Ned Block (2002). A. G enera. In David J. Chalmers (ed.), Philosophy of Mind: Classical and Contemporary Readings. Oxford University Press. 206.
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  44. Ned Block (2002). Behaviorism Revisited. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 24 (5):977-978.
    O'Regan and Noe declare that the qualitative character of experience is constituted by the nature of the sensorimotor contingencies at play when we perceive. Sensorimotor contingencies are a highly restricted set of input-output relations. The restriction excludes contingencies that don’t essentially involve perceptual systems. Of course if the ‘sensory’ in ‘sensorimotor’ were to be understood mentalistically, the thesis would not be of much interest, so I assume that these contingencies are to be understood non-mentalistically. Contrary to their view, experience is (...)
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  45. Ned Block (2002). Concepts of Consciousness. In David J. Chalmers (ed.), Philosophy of Mind: Contemporary Readings. OUP. 206-218.
     
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  46. Ned Block (2002). Some Concepts of Consciousness. In D. Chalmers (ed.), Philosophy of Mind: Classical and Contemporary Readings. 206-219.
    Consciousness is a mongrel concept: there are a number of very different "consciousnesses". Phenomenal consciousness is experience; the phenomenally conscious aspect of a state is what it is like to be in that state.
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  47. Ned Block (2002). The Harder Problem of Consciousness. Journal of Philosophy 99 (8):391-425.
    consciousness comes about as a result of irritating nervous tissue, is just as unaccountable as the appearance of Djin when Aladdin rubbed his lamp.
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  48. Ned Block (2001). How Not to Find the Neural Correlate of Consciousness. In João Branquinho (ed.), The Foundations of Cognitive Science. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1.
    There are two concepts of consciousness that are easy to confuse with one another, access-consciousness and phenomenal consciousness. However, just as the concepts of water and H2O are different concepts of the same thing, so the two concepts of consciousness may come to the same thing in the brain. The focus of this paper is on the problems that arise when these two concepts of consciousness are conflated. I will argue that John Searle’s reasoning about the function of consciousness goes (...)
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  49. Ned Block (2001). The Foundations of Cognitive Science. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
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  50. Ned Block (2000). Sexism, Racism, Ageism and the Nature of Consciousness. In Richard Moran, Alan Sidelle & Jennifer E. Whiting (eds.), The Philosophy of Sydney Shoemaker. University of Arkansas Press. 71--88.
    Everyone would agree that the American flag is red, white and blue. Everyone should also agree that it looks red, white and blue to people with normal color vision in appropriate circumstances. If a philosophical theory led to the conclusion that the red stripes cannot look red to both men and women, both blacks and whites, both young and old, we would be reluctant (to say the least) to accept that philosophical theory. But there is a widespread philosophical view about (...)
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