Evolution, cognition and consciousness

It is suggested that the evolutionary advantage of consciousness lies in its mediating the acquisition of novel context-specific reflexes, particularly when the context has temporally varying components. Such acquisition is conjectured to require evaluation of feedback stimuli evoked by the animal's self-paced probing of its environment, or by memories of the outcome of previous such probings, and the evaluation is postulated to be predicated on attention. It is argued that such an approach automatically incorporates sensation into the phenomenon, sensation arising from an interplay between the nervous system and the skeletal musculature, and not from the nervous system alone. This theory avoids the increasingly untenable view that consciousness is part of the normal chain of events linking unprovoked stimuli in the outside world with immediate voluntary reactions to them. The theory should prove attractive to those who might otherwise feel compelled by neurophysiology to embrace epiphenomenalism. It also provides a means of bridging the explanatory gap, and of resolving the celebrated hard problem of consciousness
Keywords Cognition  Consciousness  Evolution  Neurophysiology  Science
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 35,941
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Animal Pain.Colin Allen - 2004 - Noûs 38 (4):617–643.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles


Added to PP index

Total downloads
94 ( #68,908 of 2,293,863 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #253,745 of 2,293,863 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature