What place does consciousness have in the natural world? If we reject materialism, could there be a credible alternative? In one classic example, philosophers ask whether we can ever know what is it is like for bats to sense the world using sonar. It seems obvious to many that any amount of information about a bat's physical structure and information processing leaves us guessing about the central questions concerning the character of its experience. A Place for Consciousness (...) begins with reflections on the existence of this gap. Is it just a psychological shortcoming in our merely human understanding of the physical world? Is it a trivial consequence of the simple fact that we just cannot be bats? Or does it mean there really are facts about consciousness over and above the physical facts? If so, what does consciousness do? Why does it exist? Rosenberg sorts out these problems, especially those centering on the causal role of consciousness. He introduces a new paradigm called Liberal Naturalism for thinking about what causation is, about the natural world, and about how to create a detailed model to go along with the new paradigm. Arguing that experience is part of the categorical foundations of causality, he shows that within this new paradigm there is a place for something essentially like consciousness in all its traditional mysterious respects. A striking feature of Liberal Naturalism is that its central tenets are motivated independently of the mind-body problem, by analyzing causation itself. Because of this approach, when consciousness shows up in the picture it is not introduced in an ad hoc way, and its most puzzling features can be explained from first principles. Ultimately, Rosenberg's final solution gives consciousness a causally important role without supposing either that it is physical or that it interacts with the physical. (shrink)
This thesis provides a comparative analysis of the different ways Hegel and Sartre understand that consciousness can be alienated. Because understanding the various ways Hegel and Sartre hold that consciousness can be alienated is not possible without first understanding what each thinker understands by consciousness, I first identify and outline the different ways Hegel and Sartre conceptualise consciousness’s ontological structure before identifying the various ways each thinker understands that consciousness can be alienated. The general (...) argument developed shows that while Hegel and Sartre agree that alienation is a constitutive aspect of consciousness’s existence and are, therefore, allies in the battle against it, Sartre’s analysis of consciousness’s ontological structure is unable to provide the same depth of analysis as Hegel’s. Put differently, I believe it is Hegel’s analysis of consciousness’s ontological structure that provides an analysis of alienation that is more nuanced, subtle, complex, and multi-dimensional than the account Sartre’s provides. To support my argument, I first explore Sartre’s understanding of consciousness’s ontological structure. This discloses that, because Sartre defines consciousness as ontologically nothing, he holds that consciousness is defined in strict ontological opposition to objectivity. Consciousness’s ontological nothingness leads Sartre to hold that consciousness is free to choose its mode of being. This leads me to identify what Sartre holds to be constitutive of authentic and inauthentic modes of being. But while Sartre distinguishes between the ontological structure of consciousness and its experiences, I argue that Hegel: 1) does not introduce a distinction between consciousness’s ontological structure and its mode of being, but holds that consciousness’s self-understanding and ontological structure develop through its experiences; and 2) holds that consciousness is not ontologically opposed to objectivity, but is a spiritual synthesis of subjectivity and objectivity. I show that because Hegel holds that consciousness’s intentional object is an aspect of its ontological structure, rather than something simply opposed to itself, and because he recognises that consciousness must learn what it is ontologically by experiencing numerous different relations with its object, he is able to show that while the subject/object binary opposition of Sartre’s analysis of consciousness’s ontological structure describes one potential ontological relation consciousness can have to its object, it is not the only one. Indeed, Hegel’s analysis of consciousness’s ontological structure insists that consciousness will only truly understand its ontological structure if it learns to not think of itself in terms of the subject/object dichotomy and, instead, realises that it is a spiritual synthesis of subjectivity and objectivity. To show how this fundamental difference manifests itself throughout their thought, I identify and compare what each thinker’s understanding of consciousness’s ontological structure means in terms of consciousness’s relation to the world, alienation, authenticity, ethics, self-transformation, and social relations. (shrink)
It is argued that at the center of Hegels phenomenology of consciousness is the notion that experience is shaped by identification and sacrifice. Experience is the process of self-constitution and self-transformation of a self-conscious being that risks its own being. The transition from desire to recognition is explicated as a transition from the tripartite structure of want and fulfillment of biological desire to a socially structured recognition that is achieved only in reciprocal recognition, or reflexive recognition. At the (...) center of the Hegelian notion of selfhood is thus the realization that selves are the locus of accountatibility. To be a self, it is concluded, is to be the subject of normative statuses that refer to commitments; it means to be able to take a normative stand on things, to commit oneself and undertake responsibilities. Key Words: commitments desire experience G.W.F.Hegel identity recognition risk sacrifice self-consciousness self-constitution. (shrink)
This essay raises some questions concerning the method and conceptual structure of Sartre's Being and Nothingness. Three substantially different types of interpretation of this text have been put forward. One of the main issues separating the three interpretative strategies is the relationship that they each establish between Sartre's three fundamental concepts: consciousness, nothingness and freedom—each of which can be seen to play the fundamental role in the argument. It therefore seems crucial for any interpretation of Being and Nothingness (...) to determine the exact relationship between these terms. However, Being and Nothingness presents a hybrid argument that interweaves metaphysical deduction, phenomenological description and moral-existential argument in a way that makes it almost impossible to decide which of the strands of the argument should be seen to dominate the others. It is therefore perhaps equally difficult to ascertain which of its principal concepts has the most central place in the system. One could therefore argue that a reading of Being and Nothingness should aim to account for (rather than dismiss) the hybridity of the argument and then seek to assign relative functions to its different strands. The following remarks are intended as a step in that direction. (shrink)
Progressively Husserl started referring to the whole sphere of the life of intentional acts in terms of praxis. Perception, imagination, judgement, scientific consciousness, etc., are all seen as practices. What is the meaning of this move? A seemingly self-evident possibility is that intentionality is praxial, because even perception is not completely free from empty intending moments that demand fulfilment; and all fulfilment is attained by means of bodily activities that enable our senses to acquire the relevant contents. I reject (...) this approach as insufficient and misguided. I argue that perception and intentionality in general is praxial because consciousness, in all of its constituting syntheses, is or becomes organized as a practice-structure. Intentional consciousness organizes its contents according to rules so as to accomplish the evident or true givenness of its intended correlates. (shrink)
Newcomers to the philosophy of mind are sometimes resistant to the idea that pain is a mental state. If asked to defend their view, they might say something like this: pain is a physical state, it is a state of the body. A pain in one’s leg feels to be in the leg, not ‘in the mind’. After all, sometimes people distinguish pain which is ‘all in the mind’ from a genuine pain, sometimes because the second is ‘physical’ while the (...) first is not. And we also occasionally distinguish mental pain (which is normally understood as some kind of emotional distress) from the ‘physical pain’ one feels in one’s body. So what can be meant by saying that pain is a mental state? Of course, it only takes a little reflection shows that this naive view is mistaken. Pain is a state of consciousness, or an event in consciousness, and whether or not all states of mind are conscious, it is indisputable that only minds, or states of mind, are conscious.2 But does the naive view tell us anything about the concept of pain, or the concept of mind? I think it does. In this paper, I shall give reasons for thinking that consciousness is a form of intentionality, the mind’s ‘direction upon its objects’. I shall claim that the consciousness involved in bodily sensations like pain is constituted by the mind’s direction upon the part or region of the body where the sensation feels to be. Given this, it is less surprising that the naive view of pain says what it does: the apparent ‘physicality’ of pain is a consequence of confusing the object of the intentional state—the part of the body in which the pain is felt—with the state of being in pain. (shrink)
By accepting that the formal structure of human language is the key to understanding the uniquity of human culture and consciousness and by further accepting the late appearance of such language amongst the Cro-Magnon, I am free to focus on the causes that led to such an unprecedented threshold crossing. In the complex of causes that led to human being, I look to scholarship in linguistics, mythology, anthropology, paleontology, and to creation myths themselves for an answer. I conclude (...) that prehumans underwent an existential crisis, i.e., the realization of certain mortality, that could be borne only by the discovery-creation of the larger realm of symbolic consciousness once experienced as the sacred (but today we know it as "the world" – as opposed to our immediate natural environment and that of other animals). Thus, although we, the human species, are but one species among innumerable others, we differ in kind, not degree. This quality is our symbolically enabled self-consciousness, the fortress of cultural identity that empowers but also imprisons awareness. (shrink)
Kierkegaard’s identification of “consciousness” with “interest” (interesse) in his unfinished work Johannes Climacus adds a distinctive dimension to his phenomenology of subjectivity. Commentators, however, have largely identified interesse with lidenskab (“passion”), a conflation I argue to be mistaken, or have otherwise failed to note the structural implications of interesse for Kierkegaard’s account of cognition. I draw out these implications and argue that the Climacan account of interest as the experience of finding ourselves in-between ideality and reality implies, in the (...) context of Kierkegaard’s trichotomous ontology of consciousness, a form of non-thetic self-referentiality built into cognition itself. This self-referentiality also has the intriguing implication of making consciousness itself inherently teleological. (shrink)
Some of the important conceptual debates between different approaches to class analysis can be interpreted as reflecting different ways of linking temporality to class structure. In particular, processual concepts of class can be viewed as linking class to the past whereas structural concepts link class to the future. This contrast in the temporality of class concepts in turn is grounded in distinct intuitions about why class is explanatory of social conflict and social change. Processural approaches to class see its (...) explanatory power as deriving from the way meanings and identities are linked to class via a history of experiences; structural approaches, in contrast, emphasize the linkage between class and perceived interests via the objective possibilities facing people in different class locations. This paper tries to integrate these two temporalities by exploring the ways in which trajectories of class experience intersect structures of objective possibility in shaping different dimensions of class consciousness. (shrink)
This paper defends and develops the structuring account of conscious attention: attention is the conscious mental process of structuring one’s stream of consciousness so that some parts of it are more central than others. In the first part of the paper, I motivate the structuring account. Drawing on a variety of resources I argue that the phenomenology of attention cannot be fully captured in terms of how the world appears to the subject, as well as against an atomistic conception (...) of attention. In the second part of the paper, I show how the structuring account can be made precise: attention causes and causally sustains phenomenal relations to hold between the parts of the stream of consciousness; most importantly the relation of one part being peripheral to another. I end by pointing out consequences for both the scientific study of attention as well as for several areas of central philosophical interest. (shrink)
In this paper I investigate the representation of self-consciousness in the still life tradition in the Netherlands around the time of Descartes’ residence there. I treat the paintings of this tradition as both a phenomenological resource and as a phenomenological undertaking in their own right. I begin with an introductory overview of the still life tradition, with particular attention to semiotic structures characteristic of the vanitas still life. I then focus my analysis on the representation of self-consciousness in (...) this tradition, identifying both a Cartesian mode of representation of self-consciousness but also a counter trend. (shrink)
Over a decade ago, I introduced a large-scale theory of the cognitive brain which explained for the first time how the human brain is able to create internal models of its intimate world and invent models of a wider universe. An essential part of the theoretical model is an organization of neuronal mechanisms which I have named the Retinoid Model (Trehub, 1977, 1991). This hypothesized brain system has structural and dynamic properties enabling it to register and appropriately integrate disparate foveal (...) stimuli into a perspectival, egocentric representation of an extended 3D world scene including a neuronally-tokened locus of the self which, in this theory, is the neuronal origin of retinoid space. As an integral part of the larger neuro-cognitive model, the retinoid system is able to perform many other useful perceptual and higher cognitive functions. In this paper, I draw on the hypothesized properties of this system to argue that neuronal activity within the retinoid structure constitutes the phenomenal content of consciousness and the unique sense of self that each of us experiences. -/- Trehub, A. (1977). Neuronal models for cognitive processes: Networks for learning, perception, and imagination. _Journal of Theoretical Biology_ 65: 141-169. -/- Trehub, A. (1991). _The Cognitive Brain_. MIT Press. -/- . (shrink)
This book describes how understanding the structure of reality leads to the Theory of Everything Equation. The equation unifies the forces of nature and enables the merging of relativity with quantum theory. The book explains the big bang theory and everything else.
I am going to develop an argument against Physicalism concerning qualitative mental properties. Unlike most arguments against Physicalism, it is not based on the usual a priori considerations, such as what Mary learns when she comes out of her black and white room or the apparent conceivability of Zombies. Rather, it is based on two broadly a posteriori premises about the structure of experience and its physical basis.
I argue that John McDowell’s attempt to refute Wilfrid Sellars’s two-component analysis of perceptual experience and substitute for it a conception according to which perceptual experience is the “conceptual shaping of sensory consciousness” fails. McDowell does not recognize the subtle dialectic in Sellars’s thought between transcendental and empirical considerations in favor of a substantive conception of sense impressions, and McDowell’s own proposal seems to empty the notion of sensory consciousness of any real significance.
This dissertation investigates the nature, the phenomenal character and the philosophical significance of attention. According to its central thesis, attention is the ongoing mental activity of structuring the stream of consciousness or phenomenal field. The dissertation connects the scientific study of attention in psychology and the neurosciences with central discussions in the philosophy of mind. Once we get clear on the nature and the phenomenal character of attention, we can make progress toward understanding foundational issues concerning the nature and (...) the structure of conscious mentality itself. We understand better how consciousness is connected to self-awareness and to agency, and we get a better grip on the nature of perceptual experience, the unity of consciousness, and its subjective character. The dissertation also aims at showing that the current empirical investigation of attention should be complemented with work at the level of generality that a philosophical analysis can provide; it shows how such an analysis is relevant for the scientific study of attention by providing a new conceptual framework and suggesting several new areas of research. (shrink)
One of the aspects of consciousness deserving of study is what might be called its subjective unity - the way in which, though conscious experience moves from object to object, and can be said to have distinct ‘states', it nevertheless in some sense apparently forms a singular flux divided only by periods of unconsciousness. The work of William James provides a valuable, and rather unique, source of analysis of this feature of consciousness; however, in my opinion, this component (...) of James’ theory of the mind has so far gone under-emphasized in the scholarly literature. This paper undertakes some philosophical geography, trying to draw out and elucidate some of the relevant ideas from James’ corpus, and also subjects those ideas to some analysis to try and assist in judgements of their current importance. (shrink)
Charles Darwin is generally credited with having formulated the first systematic attempt to explain the evolutionary origins and function of the expression of emotions in animals and humans. His ingenious theory, however, was burdened with popular misconceptions about human phylogenetic heritage and bore the philosophical and theoretical deficiencies of the brain science of his era that his successors strove to overcome. In their attempts to rectify Darwin?s errors, William James, James Mark Baldwin and John Dewey each made important contributions to (...) a theory of emotion, which attempted to put it on a more secure philosophical and scientific footing. My contention is that Dewey and his collaborator, infant experimentalist Myrtle McGraw, succeeded where their contemporaries failed. They pointed the way out of the morass of recapitulationism, and showed how a developmental theory of consciousness, mind and emotion could be formulated that avoided the epistemological and ontological pitfalls of Darwin?s theory. Drawing on an extensive body of research from contemporary experimental studies of infant development, this essay attempts to put the questions raised by these historical figures about the structure, function and value of emotions in a theoretical framework. A developmental theory is proposed about the complex, interacting neurobiological and neurobehavioral factors that contribute to human emotional development. This theory identifies the possible relationships among emotions, consciousness and mind and how their co-development influences the capacity of young children to form moral judgments. (shrink)
The most central metaphysical question about phenomenal consciousness is that of what constitutes phenomenal consciousness, whereas the most central epistemic question about consciousness is that of whether science can eventually provide an explanation of phenomenal consciousness. Many philosophers have argued that science doesn't have the means to answer the question of what consciousness is (the explanatory gap) but that consciousness nonetheless is fully determined by the physical facts underlying it (no metaphysical gap). Others have (...) argued that the explanatory gap in the sciences entails a metaphysical gap. The explanatory gap exists, they say, because there are two fundamental properties in the world that do not reduce to one another: Phenomenal and physical. This position is also known as 'property dualism'. A famous argument, formulated and defended at great length by David Chalmers, uses conceptual tools to argue for a metaphysical gap. When we just look at what the notion of phenomenal consciousness implies, we will find that it doesn't rule out that there could be entities functionally and physically identical to us but without phenomenal consciousness. A couple of further argumentative steps can get us from here to the conclusion that laying down the physical facts of our world does not necessitate phenomenal consciousness. I argue that this argument is compelling but that accepting the conclusion doesn't have the implication that science cannot discover what consciousness is. I begin by outlining and assessing a number of different positions philosophers and scientists have recently defended regarding the link between neurological systems and consciousness, I then argue that even if property dualism is true, that doesn't necessarily prevent the sciences from discovering what constitutes consciousness. That is, there may be no explanatory gap even if there is a metaphysical gap. (shrink)
I discuss the meaning of 'There's something e is like', in the context of a reply to Eric Lormand's 'The explanatory stopgap'. I argue that Lormand is wrong to think it has a specially perceptual meaning. Rather, it has one of at least four candidate meanings: (a) e is some way as regards its subject; (b) e is some way and e's being that way is in the possession of its subject; (c) e is some way in the awareness of (...) its subject; (d) e's subject is the "experiencer" of e. I provide additional argumentation for the view in this paper that in the context, 'like this' functions as a predicate variable. (shrink)
Anthropologists working on altered states of consciousness (ASC) have suggested that we should do away with psychologizing concepts and use people's own terms for these experiences. With material drawn from the Orang Sakai of Sumatra this paper shows that practitioners who utilize ASC do recognize the alteration of states of awareness as preconditions for numinous interactions. Also critically discussed is the term ASC.
A frequent criticism of the neuroscientific approach to consciousness is that its theories describe only 'correlates' or 'analogues' of consciousness, and so fail to address the nature of consciousness itself. Despite its apparent logical simplicity, this criticism in fact relies on some substantive assumptions about the nature and evolution of scientific explanations. In particular, it is usually assumed that, in expressing correlations, neural correlate of consciousness (NCC) theories must fail to capture the causal structure relating (...) brain and mind. Drawing on work in the history and philosophy of science, I argue that this assumption - along with the related claim that even a correct NCC theory would fail to explain consciousness - is grounded in an inadequate conception of the way in which scientific explanations develop. Examination of parallel developments in 20th century biology reveals that, under the right circumstances, seemingly crude correspondences can play an essential role in scientific discovery and can sometimes become central to our everyday understanding of the phenomena in question. A proper understanding of this process clarifies the value of NCC theories and sheds light on the standards by which they should be evaluated. In closing, I describe two specific criteria for evaluating NCC proposals: intertheoretic bridge potential and detailed mapping. (shrink)
In this dissertation I develop a structural model of phenomenal consciousness that integrates contemporary experimental and theoretical work in philosophy and cognitive science. I argue that phenomenology must be “naturalized” and that it should be acknowledged as a major component of empirical research. I use this model to describe important phenomenal structures, and I then employ it to provide a detailed explication of tip-of-tongue phenomena. The primary aim of “structural phenomenology” is the creation of a general framework within which (...) descriptions of experiences may be organized. The work of Husserl, Gurwitsch, the Gestalt psychologists, and many contemporary philosophers and cognitive scientists reveals several basic parameters underlying subjectivity. Chapter I argues that Husserlian methodology possesses problems both of praxis and of internal logic, and that its phenomenological descriptions cannot have the certainty he claimed. Consequently, an adequate phenomenology must incorporate empirical studies. This conclusion enables explicit transitions between empirical investigations and phenomenological insights. Chapter II introduces the theoretical framework underlying my model. I identify four parameters applicable to all experiences: 1) the degree of volitional emphasis with which something is experienced, i.e., the intensity of our focus on it, 2) the degree of non-volitional emphasis, i.e., the degree to which it is salient, 3) a variant of intentionality I term “directionality”, and 4) the property of recursion. Experiences are embedded within a complex set of relationships that unify and direct a layered phenomenal structure. I support these claims with evidence discovered over the past two centuries of research. Chapter III applies my model to the tip-of-tongue (TOT) state, in which difficulty remembering is accompanied by a sense of active searching. I show that a phenomenological description of the TOT experience is dependent on cognitive data, and that a phenomenological analysis is necessary to properly interpret these data. By showing how structural phenomenology offers a perspective from which to elucidate the results of experimental studies, I hope to clarify and establish the explicit role of introspection in empiricism, and of empiricism in phenomenology. (shrink)
Among philosophers in the period of change between the late 18th and early 19th centuries it was a widespread conviction that, because the status of a demonstrative theory made up of axioms and proofs was neither available nor desirable for philosophy, philosophical critique would also not be external to the business of philosophy. Rather it was to belong to the essence of philosophy itself. Against this background Hegel occupied himself almost from the beginning of his philosophical thinking with the question (...) of how a critique that is also able to convince an adherent of a theory differing from one’s own should proceed. Initially it must provide him with a description of his standpoint that he himself can accept. Moreover, the critique must tie up with a method of examination that is part of this standpoint itself, because its adherent would not otherwise have to agree to the procedure. Hegel is interested in this matter not only as a description of the hermeneutic situation in which the adherents of two particular, opposing positions find themselves. Rather, he asks himself whether an idea for the procedure of philosophical critique that commits itself to such considerations can also be generalized. This would require giving a minimalist description of the starting point in a way that allows as large a spectrum as possible of positions that are to be the object of the critique to recognize themselves within it. And the procedure of the critique must be able to be developed from this description itself. (shrink)
According to one influential view, consciousness has an awareness– content structure: any experience consists of the awareness of some content. I focus on one version of this dualism, and argue that it should be rejected. My principal argument is directed at the status of the supposed contents of aware- ness; I argue that neither of the principal options is tenable, albeit for different reasons. Although the doctrine in question may seem to be supported by the find- ings of (...) researchers in meditative traditions, I question whether this evidence sup- ports the dualism that is my target here. To conclude, I introduce an innocuous mode of pure awareness. (shrink)
In the care of patients with disorders of consciousness (DOC), some ethical difficulties stem from the challenges of accurate diagnosis and the uncertainty of prognosis. Current neuroimaging research on these disorders could eventually improve the accuracy of diagnoses and prognoses and therefore change the context of end-of-life decision making. However, the perspective of healthcare professionals on these disorders remains poorly understood and may constitute an obstacle to the integration of research. We conducted a qualitative study involving healthcare professionals from (...) an acute care university medical center. A short questionnaire captured demographic data as well as the experience of participants with DOC patients. A semi-structured interview was used to explore attitudes toward ethical issues identified in a previous literature review. Qualitative content analysis of interviews was conducted with the NVivo software. Accurate diagnosis among DOC is often regarded as a challenge, but this was generally not the case for our participants because most reported high confidence in DOC diagnoses. However, participants reported struggling with prognosis, especially because of its essential role for end-of-life decision making and communication with families. Variability of opinion between healthcare professionals was reported and identified by some as a minor issue while others stressed how families struggle with different medical opinions. End-of-life decision making encompassed a large proportion of ethical challenges in these patients, and the removal of artificial nutrition and hydration created significant discomfort in a minority of participants. The concept of futility was subject to wide-ranging understandings with both favorable and unfavorable opinions. Our data suggest that to ensure the incorporation of new evidence-based advances, attention should be directed to the real-world practices and challenges of accurate diagnosis and prognosis. Given pervasive challenges in end-of-life care, we recommend improved training of healthcare professionals in the care of patients with DOC, particularly in end-of life care, understanding the context of decision making, and determining how to optimally integrate new neuroscience research on the care of patients with DOC. (shrink)
b>. One major problem many hypotheses regarding the neural correlate of consciousness (NCC) face is what we might call “the why question”: _why _would this particular neural feature, rather than another, correlate with consciousness? The purpose of the present paper is to develop an NCC hypothesis that answers this question. The proposed hypothesis is inspired by the Cross-Order Integration (COI) theory of consciousness, according to which consciousness arises from the functional integration of a first-order representation of (...) an external stimulus and a second-order representation of that first-order representation. The proposal comes in two steps. The first step concerns the “general shape” of the NCC and can be directly derived from COI theory. The second step is a concrete hypothesis that can be arrived at by combining the general shape with empirical considerations. (shrink)
According to David Chalmers, the hard problem of consciousness consists of explaining how and why qualitative experience arises from physical states. Moreover, Chalmers argues that materialist and reductive explanations of mentality are incapable of addressing the hard problem. In this chapter, I suggest that Chalmers’ hard problem can be usefully distinguished into a ‘how question’ and ‘why question,’ and I argue that evolutionary biology has the resources to address the question of why qualitative experience arises from brain states. From (...) this perspective, I discuss the different kinds of evolutionary explanations (e.g., adaptationist, exaptationist, spandrel) that can explain the origins of the qualitative aspects of various conscious states. This argument is intended to clarify which parts of Chalmers’ hard problem are amenable to scientific analysis. (shrink)
The value of resting electroencephalogram (EEG) in revealing neural constitutes of consciousness (NCC) was examined. We quantified the dynamic repertoire, duration and oscillatory type of EEG microstates in eyes-closed rest in relation to the degree of expression of clinical self-consciousness. For NCC a model was suggested that contrasted normal, severely disturbed state of consciousness and state without consciousness. Patients with disorders of consciousness were used. Results suggested that the repertoire, duration and oscillatory type of EEG (...) microstates in resting condition quantitatively related to the level of consciousness expression in brain-damaged patients and healthy-conscious subjects. Specifically, results demonstrated that (a) decreased number of EEG microstate types was associated with altered states of consciousness, (b) unawareness was associated with the lack of diversity in EEG alpha-rhythmic microstates, and (c) the probability for the occurrence and duration of delta-, theta- and slow-alpha-rhythmic microstates were associated with unawareness, whereas the probability for the occurrence and duration of fast-alpha-rhythmic microstates were associated with consciousness. In conclusion, resting EEG has a potential value in revealing NCC. This work may have implications for clinical care and medical–legal decisions in patients with disorders of consciousness. (shrink)
Background: Patients in a vegetative state pose problems in diagnosis, prognosis and treatment. Currently, no prognostic markers predict the chance of recovery, which has serious consequences, especially in end-of-life decision-making. -/- Objective: We aimed to assess an objective measurement of prognosis using advanced electroencephalography (EEG). -/- Methods: EEG data (19 channels) were collected in 14 patients who were diagnosed to be persistently vegetative based on repeated clinical evaluations at 3 months following brain damage. EEG structure parameters (amplitude, duration and (...) variability within quasi-stationary segments, as well as the spatial synchrony between such segments and the strength of this synchrony) were used to predict recovery of consciousness 3 months later. -/- Results: The number and strength of cortical functional connections between EEG segments were higher in patients who recovered consciousness (P < .05 – P < .001) compared with those who did not recover. Linear regression analysis confirms that EEG structure parameters are capable of predicting (P = .0025) recovery of consciousness 6 months post-injury, whereas the same analysis failed to significantly predict patient outcome based on aspects of their clinical history alone (P = .629) or conventional EEG spectrum power (P = .473). -/- Conclusions: The result of this preliminary study demonstrates that structural strategy of EEG analysis is better suited for providing prognosis of consciousness recovery than existing methods of clinical assessment and of conventional EEG. Our results may be a starting point for developing reliable prognosticators in patients who are in vegetative state, with the potential to improve their day-to-day management, quality of life, and access to early interventions. (shrink)
A new phenomenological framework for the characterization of human consciousness is presented. The theory is introduced in several stages - making distinctions concerning types of consciousness, levels, parameters, functional features and dynamic operations. The phenomenology encompasses both ordinary and non-ordinary states of mind. It appears that in its totality the phenomenology of human consciousness comprises a well- structured system exhibiting coherence and internal structure. In addition, this framework presents a new approach for cognitive research, methodologically as (...) well as theoretically. Observations concerning the intellectual challenge of consciousness are. (shrink)
Scientific thinkers tend to avoid the word spirituality. Those who use it often hold onto it as a marker for certain values which they feel strongly are important but which they cannot fully account for. This paper, written by a psychoanalyst, enquires whether there may be a place for such a concept, starting from the need to accommodate the existence of consciousness into the scientific world view. The author suggests that the accumulated experience of some religious traditions (though (...) not necessarily their mythology) indicates the existence of a structure to subjectivity which needs to be taken into account, and which is now being approached by developmental psychology and neuroscience. He suggests that two ways of conceiving the world may be called for and may both be valid: firstly, a revised form of scientific monism, and secondly a vision of the world as composed exclusively of subjects. The latter is, perhaps, the vision which the proponents of spirituality are intuitively glimpsing. (shrink)
A chief aim of the science of consciousness is to discover general principles that determine exactly which states of phenomenal consciousness occur in exactly which conditions. In this paper I argue that making progress towards the discovery of such principles requires developing a new regimented language for describing phenomenal states. This language should allow us to describe phenomenal states in a way that is commensurable with our descriptions of physical states. I suggest one way of doing this. My (...) approach extends and sharpens the language used in the scientific literature to describe phenomenal states. The end result is a representational language of consciousness without the metaphysical baggage of a representational theory of consciousness. (shrink)
Stream of Consciousness is about the phenomenology of conscious experience. Barry Dainton shows us that stream of consciousness is not a mosaic of discrete fragments of experience, but rather an interconnected flowing whole. Through a deep probing into the nature of awareness, introspection, phenomenal space and time consciousness, Dainton offers a truly original understanding of the nature of consciousness.
This report highlights and explores five questions which arose from The Unity of Consciousness and Sensory Integration conference at Brown University in November of 2011: 1. What is the relationship between the unity of consciousness and sensory integration? 2. Are some of the basic units of consciousness multimodal? 3. How should we model the unity of consciousness? 4. Is the mechanism of sensory integration spatio-temporal? 5. How Should We Study Experience, Given Unity Relations?
This is an excerpt of a report that highlights and explores five questions which arose from The Unity of Consciousness and Sensory Integration conference at Brown University in November of 2011. This portion of the report explores the question: What is the relationship between the unity of consciousness and sensory integration?
This is an excerpt of a report that highlights and explores five questions which arose from The Unity of Consciousness and Sensory Integration conference at Brown University in November of 2011. This portion of the report explores the question: Is the mechanism of sensory integration spatio-temporal?
According to Uriah Kriegel’s self-representational theory of consciousness, mental state M is conscious just in case it is a complex with suitably integrated proper parts, M1 and M2, such that M1 is a higher-order representation of lower-order representation M2. Kriegel claims that M thereby “indirectly” represents itself, and he attempts to motivate this claim by appealing to what he regards as intuitive cases of indirect perceptual and pictorial representation. For example, Kriegel claims that it’s natural to say that in (...) directly perceiving the front surface of an apple one thereby perceives the apple itself. Cases such as this are supposed to provide intuitive support for the principle that if X represents Y, and Y is highly integrated into complex object Z, then X indirectly represents Z. In this paper I provide counterexamples to Kriegel’s principle of indirect representation, before going on to argue that we can explain what is going on in those cases in which the subject seems to represent a complex whole by representing one its parts without positing indirect representations anyway. I then argue that my alternative approach is superior to Kriegel’s in a number of ways, thereby rendering his theory of consciousness implausible. (shrink)
This is an excerpt of a report that highlights and explores five questions which arose from The Unity of Consciousness and Sensory Integration conference at Brown University in November of 2011. This portion of the report explores the question: How should we study experience, given unity relations?
This is an excerpt of a report that highlights and explores five questions which arose from The Unity of Consciousness and Sensory Integration conference at Brown University in November of 2011. This portion of the report explores the question: Are some of the basic units of consciousness multimodal?
This is an excerpt of a report that highlights and explores five questions which arose from The Unity of Consciousness and Sensory Integration conference at Brown University in November of 2011. This portion of the report explores the question: How should we model the unity of consciousness?
Recent results from neuroimaging appear to indicate that some patients in a vegetative state have partially intact awareness. These results may demonstrate misdiagnosis and suggest the need not only for alternative forms of treatment, but also for the reconsideration of end-of-life decisions in cases of disorders of consciousness. This article addresses the second consequence. First, I will discuss which aspects of consciousness may be involved in neuroimaging findings. I will then consider various factors relevant to ethical end-of-life decision-making, (...) and analyse whether and to what extent the above consequence applies to these factors. It will be shown that knowledge of the existence of partial awareness in patients with disorders of consciousness only influences end-of-life decision-making if certain background assumptions are made. (shrink)
Disorders of consciousness include coma, the vegetative state and the minimally conscious state. Such patients are often regarded as unconscious. This has consequences for end of life decisions for these patients: it is much easier to justify withdrawing life support for unconscious than conscious patients. Recent brain imaging research has however suggested that some patients may in fact be conscious.
Disorders of consciousness pose a substantial ethical challenge to clinical decision making, especially regarding the use of life-sustaining medical treatment. For these decisions it is paramount to know whether the patient is aware or not. Recent brain research has been striving to assess awareness by using mainly functional magnetic resonance imaging. We review the neuroscientific evidence and summarize the potential and problems of the different approaches to prove awareness. Finally, we formulate the crucial ethical questions and outline the different (...) articles in this special issue on disorders of consciousness. (shrink)
Chronic disorders of consciousness, particularly the vegetative and the minimally conscious states, pose serious diagnostic challenges to neurologists and clinical psychologists. A look at the concept of “diagnosis” in medicine reveals its social construction: While medical categorizations are intended to describe facts in the real world, they are nevertheless dependent on conventions and agreements between experts and practitioners. For chronic disorders of consciousness in particular, the terminology has proven problematic and controversial over the years. Novel research utilizing functional (...) brain imaging has demonstrated that a substantial number of patients retain their capabilities to communicate by brain activity even when they are incapable of classic verbal and nonverbal responses due to the dysfunction of their motor behavior. Moreover, thorough diagnostic assessments constitute the foundations for suitable rehabilitation measures. Thus, ethical arguments support the claim that the potential of emerging methods for communication via brain activity should be evaluated comprehensively in patients with chronic disorders of consciousness, once the technological methodology for this endeavor progresses to a reliable and affordable stage. (shrink)
The paper argues that empirical work on Buddhist meditation has an impact on Buddhist epistemology, in particular their account of unity of consciousness. I explain the Buddhist account of unity of consciousness and show how it relates to contemporary philosophical accounts of unity of consciousness. The contemporary accounts of unity of consciousness are closely integrated with the discussion of neural correlates of consciousness. The conclusion of the paper suggests a new direction in the search for (...) neural correlates of state consciousness or creature consciousness. (shrink)
Consciousness is seen as a difficult “binding” problem. Binding, a process where different sensations evoked by an item are associated in the nervous system, can be viewed as a process similar to associative learning. Several reports that consciousness is associated with some form of memory imply that different forms of memories have a common feature contributing to consciousness. Based on a proposed synaptic mechanism capable of explaining different forms of memory, we developed a framework for consciousness. (...) It is based on the formation of semblance of sensory stimulus from (1) synaptic semblances when excitatory postsynaptic potentials arrive at functionally LINKed postsynaptic membranes, and (2) network semblances when these potentials summate to elicit action potential initiating activity in a network of neurons. It is then possible to derive a framework for consciousness as a multi-dimensional semblance. According to this framework, a continuum of semblances formed from background sensory stimuli and oscillating neuronal activities serve to maintain consciousness. Feasibility of this framework to explain various physiological and pathological states of consciousness, its subjective nature and qualia is examined. (shrink)
This paper examines Husserl’s fascination with the issues raised by Hume’s critique of the philosophy of the ego and the continuity of consciousness. The path taken here follows a continental and phenomenological approach. Husserl’s 1905 lecture course on the temporalization of immanent time-consciousness is a phenomenological-eidetic examination of how the continuity of consciousness and the consciousness of continuity are possible. It was by way of Husserl’s reading of Hume’s discussion of “flux” or “flow” that his discourse (...) on temporal phenomena led to the classification of a point-like now as a “fiction” and opened up a horizonal approach to the present that Hume’s introspective analyses presuppose but that escaped the limitations of the language that was available to him. In order to demonstrate the radicality of Husserl’s temporal investigations and his inspiration in the work of Hume, I show how his phenomenological discourse on the living temporal flow of consciousness resolves the latter’s concern about the problem of continuity by re-thinking how, in the absence of an abiding impression of Self, experience is continuous throughout the flux of its running off impressions. (shrink)
Contemporary neuroscientific theories of consciousness are typically based on the study of vision and have neglected olfaction. Several of these (e.g. Global Workspace Theories, the Information Integration theory, and the various theories offered by Crick and Koch) claim that a thalamic relay is necessary for consciousness. Studies on olfaction and the olfactory system's anatomical structure show this claim to be incorrect, thus showing these theories to be either false or inadequate as general and comprehensive accounts of (...) class='Hi'>consciousness. Attempts to rescue these theories by claiming that there is a structure in the olfactory system that is functionally equivalent to the thalamus in the visual system, such as the olfactory bulb or the olfactory cortex, are also shown to fail. If we wish to understand consciousness, we have to wake up and smell it. (shrink)
This is a special double issue of the Journal of Consciousness Studies (vol. 14, Sept/Oct) which I guest edited. It is also sold separately as a book and published by Imprint Academic. The essays are authored by both philosophers and psychologists (including Jose Bermudez, Georges Rey, Art Markman, Jesse Prinz, and Simon Baron-Cohen) and include topics such as conceptualism, phenomenal concepts, infant consciousness, and synesthesia.
Hypnosis appears to generate unusual—and sometimes even astonishing—changes in the contents of consciousness. Hypnotic subjects report perceiving things that are not there, they report not perceiving things that are there, and they report unusual alterations in the phenomenology of agency. In addition to apparent alterations in the contents of consciousness, hypnosis also appears to involve alterations in the structure of consciousness. According to many theorists—most notably Hilgard—hypnosis demonstrates that the unity of consciousness is an illusion (...) (Hilgard 1977). (shrink)
Through the work of philosophers like Sellars, Davidson, and McDowell, the question of how the mind is related to the world has gained new importance in contemporary analytic philosophy. This book demonstrates that Husserl's phenomenological analyses of the structure of consciousness can provide fruitful insights for developing an original approach to these questions.
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.
It is suggested that the anatomical structures whichmediate consciousness evolved as decisiveembellishments to a (non-conscious) design strategypresent even in the simplest monocellular organisms.Consciousness is thus not the pinnacle of ahierarchy whose base is the primitive reflex, becausereflexes require a nervous system, which the monocelldoes not possess. By postulating that consciousness isintimately connected to self-paced probing of theenvironment, also prominent in prokaryotic behavior,one can make mammalian neuroanatomy amenable todramatically simple rationalization.
Part one: the search for cosmic consciousness -- R.M. Bucke and the future of humanity -- William James and the anesthetic revelation -- Henri Bergson and the Elan Vital -- The superman -- A.R. Orage and the new age -- Ouspensky's fourth dimension -- Part two: esoteric evolution -- The bishop and the bulldog -- Enter the madame -- Dr. Steiner, I presume? -- From Goethean science to the wisdom of the human being -- Cosmic evolution -- Hypnagogia -- (...) Part three: the archaeology of consciousness -- The invisible mind -- Cracking the egg -- Lost worlds -- Noncerebral consciousness -- The split -- Part four: participatory epistemology -- The shock of metaphor -- The participating mind -- The tapestry of nature -- Thinking about thinking -- The black hole of consciousness -- Other times and places -- Faculty X -- Part five: the presence of origin -- The ascent of Mount Ventoux -- Structures of consciousness -- The mental-rational structure -- The integral structure -- Last words: playing for time. (shrink)
This paper explores R. W. Sperry's view that consciousness is ?causally? effective in directing voluntary human behaviour. This view, formulated in the course of his split brain research, presupposes an earlier theory that motor behaviour is the sole output of the brain and that mental phenomena were developed for regulation of overt response. His view of the ?causal? effectiveness of consciousness is shown to be based on a theory of emergent properties like that of Bunge. It is also (...) shown that Sperry, like Bunge, is a materialist; appearances to the contrary are due to occasional use of standard terms such as ?materialism? and ?interaction? in unusual senses. It is argued, with specific reference to Chisholm and Searle, that Sperry's hypothesis is helpful towards elucidating the structure and dynamics of action. It is also argued that it is not, as Sperry thinks, a consequence of his position that moral values are part of brain science. (shrink)
Even if all of the content of conscious experience is encoded in the brain, there is a considerable difference between the view that consciousness does independent processing and the view that it does not. If all processing is done by the brain, then conscious experience is unnecessary and irrelevant to behavior. If consciousness performs a function, then its association with particular aspects of brain processing reflect its functional use in determining behavior. However, if consciousness does perform a (...) function, it cannot be described entirely by known physical laws. Rather, even if the content of conscious experience follows physical encoding in the brain, consciousness must then be governed in part by a principle which is different from any known physical principle. (shrink)
The search for neural correlates of consciousness (or NCCs) is arguably the cornerstone in the recent resurgence of the science of consciousness. The search poses many difficult empirical problems, but it seems to be tractable in principle, and some ingenious studies in recent years have led to considerable progress. A number of proposals have been put forward concerning the nature and location of neural correlates of consciousness. A few of these include.
This paper is a response to the 26 commentaries on my paper "Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness". First, I respond to deflationary critiques, including those that argue that there is no "hard" problem of consciousness or that it can be accommodated within a materialist framework. Second, I respond to nonreductive critiques, including those that argue that the problems of consciousness are harder than I have suggested, or that my framework for addressing them is flawed. Third, (...) I address positive proposals for addressing the problem of consciousness, including those based in neuroscience and cognitive science, phenomenology, physics, and fundamental psychophysical theories. Reply to: Baars, Bilodeau, Churchland, Clark, Clarke, Crick & Koch, Dennett, Hameroff & Penrose, Hardcastle, Hodgson, Hut & Shepard, Libet, Lowe, MacLennan, McGinn, Mills, O'Hara & Scutt, Price, Robinson, Rosenberg, Seager, Shear, Stapp, Varela, Velmans. (shrink)
In the past decade, the notion of a neural correlate of consciousness (or NCC) has become a focal point for scientific research on consciousness (Metzinger, 2000a). A growing number of investigators believe that the first step toward a science of consciousness is to discover the neural correlates of consciousness. Indeed, Francis Crick has gone so far as to proclaim that ‘we … need to discover the neural correlates of consciousness.… For this task the primate visual (...) system seems especially attractive.… No longer need one spend time attempting … to endure the tedium of philosophers perpetually disagreeing with each other. Con- sciousness is now largely a scientific problem’ (Crick, 1996, p. 486).2 Yet the question of what it means to be a neural correlate of consciousness is actually far from straightforward, for it involves fundamental empirical, methodological, and _philosophical _issues about the nature of consciousness and its relationship to the brain. Even if one assumes, as we do, that states of consciousness causally depend on states of the brain, one can nevertheless wonder in what sense there is, or could be, such a thing as a neural correlate of consciousness. (shrink)
The strategy of divide and conquer is usually an excellent one, but it all depends on how you do the carving. Chalmer's attempt to sort the "easy" problems of consciousness from the "really hard" problem is not, I think, a useful contribution to research, but a major misdirector of attention, an illusion-generator. How could this be? Let me describe two somewhat similar strategic proposals, and compare them to Chalmers' recommendation.
From the assumption that the presence of consciousness is detectable, in the first instance, only from behavioral indicators, I offer a proof to the effect that, with respect to any theory T that states that some particular state or process is the neural correlate of consciousness, there are always rival neural correlates that, from T’s perspective, can never be empirically ruled out. That's because, with respect to these states, the means of detecting consciousness is disrupted along with (...) the empirical test. Possible responses are discussed. (shrink)
This paper distinguishes three conceptual problems that attend philosophical accounts of consciousness. The first concerns the problem of properly characterizing the nature of consciousness itself, the second is the problem of making intelligible the relation between consciousness and the physical, and the third is the problem of creating the intellectual space for a shift in philosophical framework that would enable us to deal adequately with the first two problems. It is claimed that physicalism, in both its reductive (...) and non-reductive forms, fails to deal adequately with either the first or second problem. The diagnosis of this failure is connected to the fact that consciousness cannot be treated in its own terms while being simultaneously fitted into an object-based conceptual schema. In light of this, it is proposed that a Bradleian version of absolute idealism may provide a metaphysical and epistemological framework which would enable us to recognize the conceptual diversity required to treat conscious phenomena on their own terms without forcing us to abandon naturalism. (shrink)
The so-called 'higher-order thought' (HOT) theory of consciousness says that what makes a mental state conscious is the presence of a suitable higher-order thought directed at it (Rosenthal, 1986; 1990; 1993; 2002; 2004; Gennaro, 1996; 2004). The HOT theory has been or could be attacked from two apparently opposite directions. On the one hand, there is what Stubenberg (1998) has called 'the problem of the rock' which, if successful, would show that the HOT theory proves too much. On the (...) other hand, it might also be alleged that the HOT theory does not or cannot address the so-called 'hard problem' of phenomenal consciousness. If so, then the HOT theory would prove too little. We might say, then, that the HOT theory is arguably between a rock and a hard place. In this paper, I critically examine these objections and defend the HOT theory against them. In doing so, I hope to show that the HOT theory, or at least some version of it, neither proves too little nor too much, but is just right. I also show that these two objections are really just two sides of the same coin, and that the HOT theory is immune from David Chalmers' (1995; 1996) criticisms of other attempted reductionist accounts of consciousness. (shrink)
same thing, so the two concepts of consciousness may come to the same thing in the brain.Â The focus of this paper is on the problems that arise when these two concepts of consciousness are conflated. I will argue that John Searleâ€™s reasoning about the function of consciousness goes wrong because he conflates the two senses.Â And Francis Crick and Christof Koch fall afoul of the ambiguity in arguing that visual area V1 is not part of the (...) neural correlate of consciousness. Crick and Kochâ€™s work raises issues that suggest that these two concepts of consciousness may have different (though overlapping)Â neural correlates--despite Crick and Kochâ€™s implicit rejection of this idea. Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â I will start with two quotations from Searle.Â You will see what appears to be a contradiction, and I will later claim that the appearance of contradiction can be explained if one realizes that he is using two different concepts of consciousness.Â Iâ€™m not going to explain yet what the two concepts of consciousness are.Â That will come later, after Iâ€™ve presented Searleâ€™s apparent contradiction and Crick and Kochâ€™s surprising argument.Â. (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)
The first part of this paper defends a 'two-factor' approach to mental representation by moving through various choice-points that map out the main peaks in the landscape of philosophical debate about representation. The choice-points considered are: (1) whether representations are conceptual or non-conceptual; (2) given that mental representation is conceptual, whether conscious perceptual representations are analog or digital; (3) given that the content of a representation is the concept it expresses, whether that content is individuated extensionally or intensionally; (4) whether (...) intensional contents are individuated by external or internal conditions; and (5) given that conceptual content is determined externally, whether the possession conditions for concepts are external or internal. The final part of the paper examines the relationship between representation and consciousness, arguing that any account of mental representation, though necessary for a complete account of consciousness, cannot be sufficient for it. (shrink)
A stream of conscious experience is extremely contextual; it is impacted by sensory stimuli, drives and emotions, and the web of associations that link, directly or indirectly, the subject of experience to other elements of the individual's worldview. The contextuality of one's conscious experience both enhances and constrains the contextuality of one's behavior. Since we cannot know first-hand the conscious experience of another, it is by way of behavioral contextuality that we make judgements about whether or not, and to what (...) extent, a system is conscious. Thus we believe that a deep understanding of contextuality is vital to the study of consciousness. Methods have been developed for handling contextuality in the microworld of quantum particles. Our goal has been to investigate the extent to which these methods can be used to analyze contextuality in conscious experience. (shrink)
from non-conscious components by positing that consciousness is a universal primitive. For example, the double aspect theory of information holds that infor- mation has a phenomenal aspect. How then do you get from phenomenal infor- mation to human consciousness? This paper proposes that an entity is conscious to the extent it amplifies information, first by trapping and integrating it through closure, and second by maintaining dynamics at the edge of chaos through simul- taneous processes of divergence and convergence. (...) The origin of life through autocatalytic closure, and the origin of an interconnected worldview through conceptual closure, induced phase transitions in the degree to which informa- tion, and thus consciousness, is locally amplified. Divergence and convergence of cognitive information may involve phenomena observed in light e.g. focusing, interference, and resonance. By making information flow inward- biased, clo- sure shields us from external consciousness; thus the paucity of consciousness may be an illusion. (shrink)
There is quite a bit of disagreement in cognitive science regarding the role that consciousness and control play in explanations of how people do what they do. The purpose of the present paper is to do the following: (1) examine the theoretical choice points that have lead theorists to conflicting positions, (2) examine the philosophical and empirical problems different theories encounter as they address the issue of conscious agency, and (3) provide an integrative framework (Wild Systems Theory) that addresses (...) these problems and potentially naturalizes conscious agency. It does so by grounding conscious and control in the notion of self-sustaining energy-transformation systems (i.e., living systems), versus computational or self- organizing systems, as is the case in information processing theory and dynamical systems theory, respectively. Given its assertion that content (and consciousness) emerges in self-sustaining systems, Wild Systems Theory may also provide a sound theoretical basis for a science of consciousness in general. (shrink)
The Latin conscius does not translate anything like mind or consciousness. Only in the mid-nineteenth century do we find the first attempts to study consciousness as its own discipline. Wundt, James, and Freud disagreed about how to approach the science of consciousness, although agreeing that psychology was a 'science of consciousness' that takes lived biological experience as its object. The behaviorists vetoed this idea. By the 1950s, for cognitive science, mind (conscious and unconscious) was considered analogous (...) to computer software. Recently, the science of consciousness has returned as Consciousness Studies, a new interdisciplinary synthesis of neuroscience, psychology, philosophy, and cultural anthropology. But what is new in this renaissance of the science of consciousness? New first, second and third person approaches all propose to take consciousness itself as a variable. This approach is as controversial as the nineteenth-century science of consciousness--controversy perhaps inherent to any science of consciousness. (shrink)