Understanding the Higher-Order Approach to Consciousness

Trends in Cognitive Sciences 23 (9):754-768 (2019)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Critics have often misunderstood the higher-order theory (HOT) of consciousness. Here we clarify its position on several issues, and distinguish it from other views such as the global The higher-order theory (HOT) of consciousness has often been misunderstood by critics. Here we clarify its position on several issues, and distinguish it from other views such as the global workspace theory (GWT) and early sensory models (e.g. first-order local recurrency theories). For example, HOT has been criticized for over-intellectualizing consciousness. We show that while higher-order states are cognitively assembled, the requirements are actually considerably less than often presumed. In this sense HOT may be viewed as an intermediate position between GWT and early sensory views. Also, we clarify that most proponents of HOT do not stipulate consciousness as equivalent to metacognition or confidence. Further, compared to other existing theories, HOT can arguably account better for complex everyday experiences, such as of emotions and episodic memories. This makes HOT particularly useful as a framework for conceptualizing pathological mental states.

Similar books and articles

The HOROR Theory of Phenomenal Consciousness.Richard Brown - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (7):1783-1794.
Quotational higher-order thought theory.Sam Coleman - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (10):2705-2733.
Quotational higher-order thought theory.Kevin Timpe - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (10):2705-2733.
Higher-Order Theories of Consciousness.Rocco J. Gennaro - 2018 - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
The Collapse Argument.Joseph Gottlieb - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (1):1-20.
Verbal Disputes in the Theory of Consciousness.Joseph Gottlieb - 2018 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 5.
Consciousness Doesn't Overflow Cognition.Richard Brown - 2014 - Frontiers in Psychology 5:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01399.
The same-order monitoring theory of consciousness.Uriah Kriegel - 2006 - In Uriah Kriegel & Kenneth Williford (eds.), Self-Representational Approaches to Consciousness. MIT Press. pp. 143--170.
Higher-Order Awareness, Misrepresentation, and Function.David Rosenthal - 2012 - Higher-Order Awareness, Misrepresentation and Function 367 (1594):1424-1438.
A Higher-Order Theory of Emotional Consciousness.Joseph LeDoux & Richard Brown - 2017 - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 114 (10):E2016-E2025.
Higher-order thought and naturalist accounts of consciousness.Jurgen Schroder - 2001 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 8 (11):27-46.


Added to PP

1,319 (#5,976)

6 months
148 (#7,925)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author Profiles

Richard Brown
LaGuardia Community College (CUNY)
Joseph LeDoux
New York University

References found in this work

A Materialist Theory of the Mind.D. M. Armstrong - 1968 - New York: Routledge. Edited by Ted Honderich.
On a confusion about a function of consciousness.Ned Block - 1995 - Brain and Behavioral Sciences 18 (2):227-–247.
Consciousness and Experience.William G. Lycan - 1996 - Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

View all 70 references / Add more references