This category covers questions as to whether self-consciousness can or cannot be incorporated into a functionalist view of the mind, and if it can, what a functionalist account of self-consciousness might look like.
The ability to anticipate events, to foresight, is an adaptive advantage. We humans use it all the time. Animals have a limited access to it. Positioning foresight in human evolution is a complex subject (Suddendorf, 2013). Why and how are humans, and not chimpanzees, performant in anticipating events? We propose here to address that question with an evolutionary scenario that links self-consciousness to anxiety management (Menant, 2018). The scenario positions self-consciousness as “the capability to represent one’s own entity as existing (...) in the environment, like conspecifics are represented as existing” (making “thinking about oneself” possible). The scenario proposes that our pre-human ancestors were capable of some level of identifications with their conspecifics, and that its development has progressively brought our ancestors to represent themselves as existing in the environment like their conspecifics were represented, thus introducing self-consciousness. The scenario also proposes that identifications with suffering conspecifics have been the source of an important anxiety that had to be limited for evolution to continue. Some of our ancestors have not been able to limit that new anxiety. Their mental pain became unbearable. Their evolution was almost stopped, thus initiating the pan-homo split. Developing an ability to anticipate events has been a key contributor to anxiety limitation by providing information about the sufferings to come, and consequently allowing to limit and avoid them. In addition to that role of foresight in human evolution it is worth noticing that the associated chaining of mental events brings to propose foresight as an entry point to the concept of causality in human evolution. Regarding our chimpanzee cousins, the pan-homo split in the scenario positions them as not self-conscious, not capable of anticipation like humans are, and less anxious than humans. Continuations are proposed. (shrink)
First-person and third-person perspectives are different items of human consciousness. Feeling the taste of a fruit or being consciously part of a group eating fruits call for different perspectives of consciousness. The latter is about objective reality (third-person data). The former is about subjective experience (first-person data) and cannot be described entirely by objective reality. We propose to look at how these two perspectives could be rooted in an evolutionary origin of human consciousness, and somehow be connected. Our starting point (...) is a scenario describing how evolution could have transformed a non self-conscious auto-representation into a conscious self-representation (Menant 2006). The scenario is based on the performance of inter-subjectivity existing among non human primates (Gardenfors 2006). A key item of the scenario is the identification of the auto-representation of a subject with the representations that the subject has of her conspecifics, the latter feeding the former with the meaning: “existing in the environment”. So during evolution, pre-human primates were brought to perceive their auto-representation as existing in the environment. Such process could have generated the initial elements of a conscious self-representation. We take this scenario as providing a possible rooting of human consciousness in evolution. We develop here a part of this scenario by expliciting the inward and outward components of the non self-conscious auto-representation. Inward components are about proprioception and interoception (thirst, pain, …). Outward components cover the sensory information relative to the perception of the body (seen feet, … ) and of its effects on the environment. We consider that the initial elements of a conscious self-representation have been applied to both inward and outward components of the auto-representation. We propose that the application to inward components made possible some first-person information, and that the application to outward components brought up third-person information. Relations between the two perspectives are highlighted. Such approach can root first-person and third-person perspectives in the same slot of human evolution. We conclude by a summary of the above and introduce a possible application of this approach to the concepts of bodily self and of pre-reflexive self-consciousness (Legrand, 2006). (shrink)
The question about evolution of consciousness has been addressed so far as possible selectional advantage related to consciousness ("What evolutionary advantages, if any, being conscious might confer on an organism ? "). But evidencing an adaptative explanation of consciousness has proven to be very difficult. Reason for that being the complexity of consciousness. We take here a different approach on subject by looking at possible selectional advantages related to the performance of Self Awareness that appeared during evolution millions of years (...) before consciousness as we know it for humans. The interest of such an approach is that the analysis of selectional advantage is done at an evolution step sigificantly simpler that the step of Human Consciousness. We analyse how evolutionary advantages have resulted from this specific Self Awareness step. This is done by taking into consideration the possibility for a subject to identify with a conspecific at this level of evolution. We use the results made available by Mirror Neuron researchs where intersubjectivity and some level of identification with conspecifics have been evidenced for non human primates. Selectional advantages related to Self Awareness are analysed two ways: - Reformulating the performances of imitation and of development of language. - Showing that Self Awareness within group life can naturaly produce an important increase in fear/anxiety for a subject, and that the means implemented by the subject to overcome this fear/anxiety can act as significant evolution advantages opening the road to Human Consciousness. Such approach brings new elements supporting the view that consciousness is grounded in emotions. It also proposes some more evolutionist explanations to the widely dicussed subject of Empathy (S. Preston & F. de Waal) in terms of specific behaviour implemented to limit fear/anxiety increase. This approach also provides some explanation for limited anxiety within dolphins and introduces a basis for a possible phylogenesis of emotions. (shrink)
It is argued that although George Bealer's influential ‘Self-Consciousness argument’ refutes standard versions of reductive functionalism (RF), it fails to generalize in the way Bealer supposes. To wit, he presupposes that any version of RF must take the content of ‘pain’ to be the property of being in pain (and so on), which is expressly rejected in independently motivated versions of conceptual role semantics (CRS). Accordingly, there are independently motivated versions of RF, incorporating CRS, which avoid Bealer's main type of (...) refutation. I focus particularly on one such theory, which takes concepts to be event types that are individuated by their psychological roles, which has the resources of responding to each of the more specific worries Bealer expresses. (shrink)
In this paper, I examine the claim that self-consciousness is highly morally significant, such that the fact that an entity is self-conscious generates strong moral reasons against harming or killing that entity. This claim is apparently very intuitive, but I argue it is false. I consider two ways to defend this claim: one indirect, the other direct. The best-known arguments relevant to self-consciousness's significance take the indirect route. I examine them and argue that in various ways they depend on unwarranted (...) assumptions about self-consciousness's functional significance, and once these assumptions are undermined, motivation for these arguments dissipates. I then consider the direct route to self-consciousness's significance, which depends on claims that self-consciousness has intrinsic value or final value. I argue what intrinsic or final value self-consciousness possesses is not enough to generate strong moral reasons against harming or killing. (shrink)
Why are we conscious? What does consciousness enable us to do that cannot be done by zombies in the dark? This paper argues that introspective consciousness probably co-evolved as a "spandrel" along with our more useful ability to represent the mental states of other people. The first part of the paper defines and motivates a conception of consciousness as a kind of "double vision" – the perception of how things seem to us as well as what they are – along (...) lines recently explored by Peter Carruthers. The second part explains the basic socioepistemic function of consciousness and suggests an evolutionary pathway to this cognitive capacity that begins with predators and prey. The third part discusses the relevance of these considerations to the traditional problem of other minds. (shrink)
Wie ist zu erklären, dass wir uns lebendig fühlen und nicht lediglich lebendig sind? Es werden Voraussetzungen dafür erörtert, was es bedarf, damit sich ein Lebewesen lebendig fühlt. Denn fühlt es sich lebendig, verfügt es über eine rudimentäre, einfache Form des Bewusstseins, die die Schwelle zwischen Leben und Erleben darstellt. Es geht um ein präreflexives Selbst-Gewahrseins des lebendigen Körpers, das die erste Stufe einer Entwicklungsreihe bezüglich des Bewusstseins darstellt. Überlegungen zu einer solchen Form des empfindenden Selbstgewahrseins erlauben es zugleich zeitgenössische (...) Versuche, Bewusstsein auf seine naturalistischen Grundlagen zu reduzieren, genauer einordnen zu können, als auch die Subjekt- und Reflexionsfixierung des modernen Denkens hinsichtlich des Bewusstseins aufzubrechen. (shrink)
Tribe, David In my reply to criticisms of my article 'On Death', I observed that 'the origin and nature of consciousness and self-awareness, though clearly related to brain function, are still hotly debated among scientists'. They are increasingly being joined in the fray by philosophers.
: Radical sceptical possibilities challenge the anti-realist view that truth consists in ideal rational acceptability. Putnam, as part of his defence of an anti-realist view, subjected the case of the brain in a vat to a semantic externalist treatment, which aimed to maintain the desired connection between truth and ideal rational acceptability. It is argued here that self-consciousness poses special problems for this externalist strategy. It is shown how, on a standard model of first-person reference, Putnam's brain in a vat (...) will be mistaken in its rational self-ascription of externalist predicates. The natural response, which employs an alternative model of first-person reference, is shown to have the equally realist consequence that there are enquiry-transcendent truths about the self. (shrink)
In the field of machine consciousness, it has been argued that in order to build human-like conscious machines, we must first have a computational model of qualia. To this end, some have proposed a framework that supports qualia in machines by implementing a model with three computational areas (i.e., the subconceptual, conceptual, and linguistic areas). These abstract mechanisms purportedly enable the assessment of artificial qualia. However, several critics of the machine consciousness project dispute this possibility. For instance, Searle, in his (...) Chinese room objection, argues that however sophisticated a computational system is, it can never exhibit intentionality; thus, would also fail to exhibit consciousness or any of its varieties. This paper argues that the proposed architecture mentioned above answers the problem posed by Searle, at least in part. Specifically, it argues that we could reformulate Searle’s worries in the Chinese room in terms of the three-stage artificial qualia model. And by doing so, we could see that the person doing all the translations in the room could realize the three areas in the proposed framework. Consequently, this demonstrates the actualization of self-consciousness in machines. (shrink)
The Phenomenal Self (PS) is widely considered to be dependent on body representations, whereas the Narrative Self (NS) is generally thought to rely on abstract cognitive representations. The concept of the Bodily Social Self (BSS) might play an important role in explaining how the high level cognitive self-representations enabling the NS might emerge from the bodily basis of the PS. First, the phenomenal self (PS) and narrative self (NS), are briefly examined. Next, the BSS is defined and its potential for (...) explaining aspects of social cognition is explored. The minimal requirements for a BSS are considered, before reviewing empirical evidence regarding the development of the BSS over the first year of life. Finally, evidence on the involvement of the body in social distinctions between self and other is reviewed to illustrate how the BSS is affected by both the bottom up effects of multisensory stimulation and the top down effects of social identification. (shrink)
Conscious states as objects of awareness: on Uriah Kriegel, Subjective consciousness: a self - representational theory Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-9 DOI 10.1007/s11098-011-9763-9 Authors Brie Gertler, Corcoran Department of Philosophy, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22904, USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116.
Subjective consciousness and self-representation Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-9 DOI 10.1007/s11098-011-9765-7 Authors Robert Van Gulick, Department of Philosophy, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY, USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116.
Information is a basic structure of the world, while computation is a process of the dynamic change of information. This book provides a cutting-edge view of world's leading authorities in fields where information and computation play a central role. It sketches the contours of the future landscape for the development of our understanding of information and computation, their mutual relationship and the role in cognition, informatics, biology, artificial intelligence, and information technology. -/- This book is an utterly enjoyable and engaging (...) read which gives readers an opportunity to understand and relate phenomena seemingly unrelated in a completely new light — especially the connections between information, computation, cognition and life. -/- Contents: Cybersemiotics and the Question of Knowledge (Søren Brier) Information Dynamics in a Categorical Setting (Mark Burgin) Mathematics as a Biological Process (G J Chaitin) Information, Causation and Computation (John Collier) From Descartes to Turing: The Computational Content of Supervenience (S Barry Cooper) A Dialogue Concerning Two World Systems: Info-Computational vs Mechanistic (Gordana Dodig-Crnkovic & Vincent C Müller) Does Computing Embrace Self-Organization? (Wolfgang Hofkirchner) Analysis of Information and Computation in Physics Explains Cognitive Paradigms: From Full Cognition to Laplace Determinism to Statistical Determinism to Modern Approach (Vladik Kreinovich, Roberto Araiza & Juan Ferret) Bodies — Both Informed and Transformed Embodied Computation and Information Processing (Bruce J MacLennan) Computation on Information, Meaning and Representations: An Evolutionary Approach (Christophe Menant) Interior Grounding, Reflection, and Self-Consciousness (Marvin Minsky) A Molecular Dynamic Network: Minimal Properties and Evolutionary Implications (Walter Riofrio) Super-recursive Features of Evolutionary Processes and the Models for Computational Evolution (Darko Roglic) Towards a Modeling View of Computing (Oron Shagrir) What's Information, for an Organism or Intelligent Machine? How can a Machine or Organism Mean? (Aaron Sloman) Inconsistent Knowledge as a Natural Phenomenon: The Ranking of Reasonable Inferences as a Computational Approach to Naturally Inconsistent (Legal) Theories (Kees (CNJ) de Vey Mestdagh & Jaap Henk (JH) Hoepman) On the Algorithmic Nature of the World (Hector Zenil & Jean-Paul Delahaye) . (shrink)
Przedmiotem artykułu jest krytyczna analiza teorii świadomości rozumianej jako dwuczłonowa relacja asymetryczna. Koncepcja taka została sformułowana przez Paula Natorpa w Allgemeine Psychologie nach kritischer Methode. Według tej teorii świadomość nie jest ani aktem, ani czynnością, ani stanem, lecz czystym stosunkiem podmiotu do przedmiotu. Świadomość jako relacja różnicująca jest w tym ujęciu relacją asymetryczną, to znaczy, że nie można podmiotu ująć jako przedmiotu i odwrotnie, czyli tylko przedmiot może być uświadomiony przez podmiot.
In this chapter I argue that there is such a barrier created by self-conscious intentional states—conscious intentional states that are about one’s own conscious intentional states. As we will see, however, this result is entirely compatible with a scientific theory of mind, and, in fact, there is an elegant non-reductive framework in which just such a theory may be pursued.
Abstract: In the course of seeking an answer to the question "How do you know you are not a zombie?" Floridi (2005) issues an ingenious, philosophically rich challenge to artificial intelligence (AI) in the form of an extremely demanding version of the so-called knowledge game (or "wise-man puzzle," or "muddy-children puzzle")—one that purportedly ensures that those who pass it are self-conscious. In this article, on behalf of (at least the logic-based variety of) AI, I take up the challenge—which is to (...) say, I try to show that this challenge can in fact be met by AI in the foreseeable future. (shrink)
Parsing the Turing Test is a landmark exploration of both the philosophical and methodological issues surrounding the search for true artificial intelligence. Will computers and robots ever think and communicate the way humans do? When a computer crosses the threshold into self-consciousness, will it immediately jump into the Internet and create a World Mind? Will intelligent computers someday recognize the rather doubtful intelligence of human beings? Distinguished psychologists, computer scientists, philosophers, and programmers from around the world debate these weighty issues (...) – and, in effect, the future of the human race – in this important volume. (shrink)
In her 2006 book ‘‘My Stroke of Insight” Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor relates her experience of suffering from a left hemispheric stroke caused by a congenital arteriovenous malformation which led to a loss of inner speech. Her phenomenological account strongly suggests that this impairment produced a global self-awareness deficit as well as more specific dysfunctions related to corporeal awareness, sense of individuality, retrieval of autobiographical memories, and self-conscious emotions. These are examined in details and corroborated by numerous excerpts from Taylor’s (...) book. Ó 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. (shrink)
This paper focuses on the decryption of both a symbol and an intellectual experience. It also follows the methodology of not pulling the ladder. Symbols are always enigmatic knowledges. They canot be decrypted exhaustively and, as such, to discover or to propose a symbol, its interpretation, and finally its decryption are always dense endeavors. This paper wants to note the relationship between contemporary symbolic anthropologies with the later epistemology Polo has elaborated. This epistemological proposal of Polo concerns itself with the (...) highest knowledge attainable through human essence. Finally, I conclude with the Polian criticism to the modern ideal of self-consciousness. (shrink)
Open peer commentary on the target article “How and Why the Brain Lays the Foundations for a Conscious Self” by Martin V. Butz. Excerpt: My reflections will be first, about how the brain operates in the generation of the adequate behavior of an organism in a changing medium, and second, about how self-consciousness appears in the course of the history of humanness.
Brook and Raymont do not assert that self-representing representations are sufficient to generate consciousness, but they do assert that they are necessary, at least in the sense that self-representation provides the most plausible mechanism for generating conscious mental states. I argue that a first-order approach to consciousness is equally capable of accounting for the putative features of consciousness which are supposed to favor the self-representational account. If nothing is gained the simplicity of the first-order theory counts in its favor. I (...) also advance a speculative proposal that we are never aware of any distinctively mental attributes of our own states of consciousness except via an independent act of reflective conceptualization, although this goes rather farther than the first-order theory strictly requires. (shrink)
This paper focuses on two enduring features of Gareth Evans’s work. The first is his rethinking of standard ways of understanding the Fregean notion of sense and the second his sustained attempt to undercut the standard opposition between Russellian and Fregean approaches to understanding thought and language.I explore the peculiar difficulties that ‘I’ poses for a Fregean theory and show how Evans’s account of the sense of the first person pronoun can be modified to meet those difficulties.
Some computer programs are expert at some games. Other programs can recognize some words. Yet other programs are highly competent at solving certain technical problems. However, each of those programs is specialized, and no existing program today shows the common sense or resourcefulness of a typical two-year-old child—and certainly, no program can yet understand a typical sentence from a child’s first-grade storybook. Nor can any program today can look around a room and then identify the things that meet its eyes.
An analysis of Mark Bevir's account of the role of language and tradition on the one hand, and the individual on the other in the generation of ideas, and proposal of an alternative account It endorses Bevir's project of finding a middle way between individualism and collectivism, but finds that Bevir exaggerates the role of the individual. It argues that human selves always remains dependent on language even to articulate their own intentions to themselves. Whilst they have a capacity to (...) create new linguistic expressions, this is always limited to the exploration of possibilities already latent in the language. However, no one is a mere recipient and conduit of a given language: everyone hands it on transformed by their unique appropriation of it. The antifoundationalist analyses of Wittgenstein, Newman Collingwood, and Neurath are invoked to argue that this state of affairs also applies to the individual's relation to the beliefs and values inherited traditionally: there is no possibility of a wholesale rejection of what is received; no individual can reject all received traditions, and erect an entire belief structure from scratch, but can only modify it on a piecemeal basis, so that received tradition always remains constitutive of the individual mind. It is also argued that human self-consciousness is always socially formed, and no person ever completely integrated, and stabilized. No one is ever therefore in a state of complete self-possession. One therefore must reject Bevir's claim that the historian of ideas must initially presume that individuals are sincere, conscious and rational in their expressed beliefs: ‘sincere’ self-consciousness is an ideal never fully achieved, and beliefs as to what constitutes ‘rationality’ are so varied that specific presumptions cannot be made. (shrink)
Ontological functionalism's defining tenet is that mental properties can be defined wholly in terms of the general pattern of interaction of ontologically prior realizations. Ideological functionalism's defining tenet is that mental properties can only be defined nonreductively, in terms of the general pattern of their interaction with one another. My Self-consciousness Argument establishes: ontological functionalism is mistaken because its proposed definitions wrongly admit realizations into the contents of self-consciousness; ideological functionalism is the only viable alternative for functionalists. Michael Tooley's critique (...) misses the target: he offers no criticism of - except for an incidental, and incorrect, attack on certain self-intimation principles - and, since he himself proposes a certain form of nonreductive definition, he tacitly accepts. Finally, as with all other nonreductive definitions, Tooley's proposal can be shown to undermine functionalism's ultimate goal: its celebrated materialist solution to the Mind-Body Problem. The explanation of these points will require a discussion of: Frege-Russell disagreements regarding intensional contexts; the relationship between self-consciousness and the traditional doctrine of acquaintance; the role of self-intimation principles in functionalist psychology; and the Kripke-Lewis controversy over the nature of theoretical terms. (shrink)
A common conception of what it is for one property to “realize” another suggests that it is the realizer property that does the causal work, and that the realized property is epiphenomenal. The same conception underlies George Bealer’s argument that functionalism leads to the absurd conclusion that what we take to be self-ascriptions of a mental state are really self-ascriptions of “first-order” properties that realize that state. This paper argues for a different concept of realization. A property realizes another if (...) its “forward looking” causal features are a subset of those of the property realized. The instantiation of the realizer property will include the instantiation of the property realized; and when the effects produced are due to the causal features of the latter, it is the instantiation of it that is appropriately regarded as their cause. Epiphenomenalism is avoided, and so is Bealer’s absurd conclusion. (shrink)
In his recent article, ``Self-Consciousness'’, George Bealer has set outa novel and interesting argument against functionalism in the philosophyof mind. I shall attempt to show, however, that Bealer's argument cannotbe sustained.In arguing for this conclusion, I shall be defending three main theses.The first is connected with the problem of defining theoreticalpredicates that occur in theories where the following two features arepresent: first, the theoretical predicate in question occurswithin both extensional and non-extensional contexts; secondly, thetheory in question asserts that the relevant (...) theoretical states enterinto causal relations. What I shall argue is that a Ramsey-styleapproach to the definition of such theoretical terms requires twodistinct quantifiers: one which ranges over concepts, and theother which ranges over properties in the world.My second thesis is a corollary: since the theories on whichBealer is focusing have both of the features just mentioned, and sincethe method that he employs to define theoretical terms in his argumentagainst functionalism does not involve both quantifiers that range overproperties and quantifiers that range over concepts, that method isunsound.My final thesis is that when a sound method is used, Bealer's argumentagainst functionalism no longer goes through.The structure of my discussion is as follows. I begin by setting out twoarguments – the one, a condensed version of Bealer's argument, andthe other, an argument that parallels Bealer's argument very closely.The parallel argument leads to a conclusion, however, that, rather thanbeing merely somewhat surprising, seems very implausible indeed. Forwhat the second argument establishes, if sound, is that there can betheoretical terms that apply to objects by virtue of their first-orderphysical properties, but whose meaning cannot be defined via aRamsey-style approach.Having set out the two parallel arguments, I then go on to focus uponthe second, to determine what is wrong with it. My diagnosis will bethat the problem with the argument arises from the fact that it involvesdefining a theoretical term that occurs both inside and outside ofopaque contexts, for the method employed fails to take into account thefact that the types of entities that are involved in the relevanttruthmakers are different when a sentence occurs within an extensionalcontext from those involved when a sentence occurs within anon-extensional context.I then go on to discuss how one should define a theoretical term thatoccurs within such theories, and I argue that in such a case one needstwo quantifiers, ranging over different types of entities – on theone hand, over properties and relations, and the other, over concepts. Ithen show that, when such an approach is followed, the argument inquestion collapses.I then turn to Bealer's argument against functionalism, and I show,first, that precisely the same method of defining theoretical terms canbe applied there, and, secondly, that, when this is done, it turns outthat that argument is also unsound.Next, I consider two responses that Bealer might make to my argument,and I argue that those responses would not succeed.Finally, I conclude by asking exactly where the problem lies in the caseof Bealer's argument. My answer will be that it is not simply the factthat one is dealing with a theoretical term that occurs in bothextensional and non-extensional contexts. It is rather the combinationof that feature together with the fact that the theory in questionasserts that the relevant type of theoretical state enters into causalrelations. For the first of these features means that the Ramseysentence for the theory must involve quantification over concepts, whilethe presence of the second feature means that the Ramsey sentence mustinvolve quantification over properties in the world, and so no attemptto offer a Ramsey-style account of the meaning of the relevanttheoretical term can succeed unless one employs both quantification overconcepts and quantification over properties. Bealer, however, in hisargument against functionalism, uses a method of defining theoreticalterms that does not involve both types of quantification, and it isprecisely because of this that his argument does not in the end succeed. (shrink)
This paper begins with a brief summary of the Self-consciousness Argument, developed in the author’s paper “Self-consciousness.” (This argument is designed to refute the extant versions of functionalism -- American functionalism, Australian functionalism, and language-of-thought functionalism.) After this summary is given, two thesis are defended. The first is that the Self-consciousness Argument is not guilty of a Fregean equivocation regarding embedded occurrences of mental predicates, as has been suggested by many commentators, including Mark McCullagh. The second thesis is that the (...) Self-consciousness Argument cannot be avoided by weakening the psychological theory upon which Ramsified functional definitions are based. Specifically, it does no good to excise psychological principles involving embedded mental predicates. Why? Because functional definitions based on the resulting sparse theories are exposed to an interesting new family of counterexamples. (shrink)
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.
I offer a philosophically well-motivated solution to a problem that George Bealer has identified, which he claims is fatal to functionalism. The problem is that there seems to be no way to generate a satisfactory Ramsey sentence of a psychological theory in which mental-state predicates occur within the scopes of mental-state predicates. My central claim is that the functional roles in terms of which a creature capable of self-consciousness identifies her own mental states must be roles that items could play (...) within creatures whose psychology is less complex than hers. (Bealer’s reply to this paper appears in the same issue of Mind & Language.). (shrink)
Self-consciousness, many philosophers agree, is essential to being a person. There is not so much agreement, however, about how to understand what self-consciousness is. Philosophers in the field of cognitive science tend to write off self-consciousness as unproblematic. According to such philosophers, the real difficulty for the cognitive scientist is phenomenal consciousness--the fact that we have states that feel a certain way. If we had a grip on phenomenal consciousness, they think, self-consciousness could be easily handled by functionalist models. For (...) example, recently Ned Block commented. (shrink)
Self-consciousness constitutes an insurmountable obstacle to functionalism. Either the standard functional definitions of mental relations wrongly require the contents of self-consciousness to be propositions involving “realizations” rather than mental properties and relations themselves. Or else these definitions are circular. The only way to save functional definitions is to expunge the standard functionalist requirement that mental properties be second-order and to accept that they are first-order. But even the resulting “ideological” functionalism, which aims only at conceptual clarification, fails unless it incorporates (...) the thesis that the mental properties are fully “natural” universals. Accordingly, mental properties are sui generis: first-order, nonphysical, natural universals. (shrink)
I argue that consciousness is an aspect of an agent's intelligence, hence of its ability to deal adaptively with the world. In particular, it allows for the possibility of noting and correcting the agent's errors, as actions performed by itself. This in turn requires a robust self-concept as part of the agent's world model; the appropriate notion of self here is a special one, allowing for a very strong kind of self-reference. It also requires the capability to come to see (...) that world model as residing in its belief base , while then representing the actual world as possibly different, i.e., forming a new world-model. This suggests particular computational mechanisms by which consciousness occurs, ones that conceivably could be discovered by neuroscientists, as well as built into artificial systems that may need such capabilities. Consciousness, then, is not an epiphenomenon at all, but rather a key part of the functional architecture of suitably intelligent agents, hence amenable to study as much as any other architectural feature. I also argue that ignorance of how subjective states could be essentially functional does not itself lend credibility to the view that such states are not essentially functional; the strong self-reference proposal here is one possible functional explanation of consciousness. (shrink)
How does Frege's distinction between sense and reference apply to terms whose reference depends on context? The stakes are high; a good account of the sense of 'I' might constitute an analysis of self-consciousness. Frege's own remarks on this matter are notoriously unsatisfactory. In "Past, Space, and Self", John Campbell does better. The depth and freshness of his investigations are outstanding. He uncovers a wide variety of evidence, both logical and psychological, to which any account must do justice.
In her book, Kant’s Transcendental Psychology, Patricia Kitcher interprets Kant’s doctrine of apperception as an attempt to save some measure of “personal identity” in the wake of Hume’s arguments against personal identity. Bucking tradition, she argues that Kant’s notion of “the unity of apperception” means neither a type of self-consciousness, nor the ability for the self-ascription of cognitive states. On her view, the unity of apperception “refers to the fact that cognitive states are connected to each other through syntheses required (...) for cognition”. (shrink)