The personal/sub‐personal distinction: An introduction

Philosophical Explorations 3 (1):2 – 5 (2000)
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Abstract

I claim that consciousness, just as thought or action, is only to be found at the personal level of explanation. Dennett's account is often taken to be at odds with this view, as it is seen as explicating consciousness in terms of sub‐personal processes. Against this reading, and especially as it is developed by John McDowell, I argue that Dennett's work is best understood as maintaining a sharp personal/sub‐personal distinction. To see this, however, we need to understand better what content ascription at the sub‐personal level actually means. When we do we can see how Dennett presents both a philosophical account of consciousness and informed empirical speculation on the nature of its sub‐personal underpinnings. Consciousness is a product of certain capacities that are intelligible only at the personal level, capacities that are neither present at the sub‐personal level of brain mechanism nor present in ‘sub‐persons’, e.g. some, if not all, non‐human animals.

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References found in this work

Content and Consciousness.Daniel C. Dennett - 1968 - New York: Routledge.
The material mind.Donald Davidson - 1973 - In Patrick Suppes (ed.), Logic, methodology and philosophy of science. New York,: American Elsevier Pub. Co..

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