On a confusion about a function of consciousness

Brain and Behavioral Sciences 18 (2):227-–247 (1995)
Authors
Ned Block
New York University
Abstract
Consciousness is a mongrel concept: there are a number of very different "consciousnesses." Phenomenal consciousness is experience; the phenomenally conscious aspect of a state is what it is like to be in that state. The mark of access-consciousness, by contrast, is availability for use in reasoning and rationally guiding speech and action. These concepts are often partly or totally conflated, with bad results. This target article uses as an example a form of reasoning about a function of "consciousness" based on the phenomenon of blindsight. Some information about stimuli in the blind field is represented in the brains of blindsight patients, as shown by their correct "guesses," but they cannot harness this information in the service of action, and this is said to show that a function of phenomenal consciousness is somehow to enable information represented in the brain to guide action. But stimuli in the blind field are BOTH access-unconscious and phenomenally unconscious. The fallacy is: an obvious function of the machinery of access-consciousness is illicitly transferred to phenomenal consciousness.
Keywords access   attention   awareness   blindsight   consciousness   function   retrieval
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DOI 10.1017/S0140525X00038188
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References found in this work BETA

The Varieties of Reference.Gareth Evans - 1982 - Oxford University Press.
Intentionality.John Searle - 1983 - Oxford University Press.
Brainstorms.Daniel C. Dennett - 1978 - MIT Press.
Mortal Questions.Thomas Nagel - 1979 - Cambridge University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Perceptual Consciousness Overflows Cognitive Access.Ned Block - 2011 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 15 (12):567-575.
The Evil Demon Inside.Nicholas Silins - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
Consciousness Cannot Be Separated From Function.Michael A. Cohen & Daniel C. Dennett - 2011 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 15 (8):358--364.

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