Consciousness as existence, devout physicalism, spiritualism

Mind and Matter 2 (1):85-104 (2004)
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Abstract

Consider three answers to the question of what it actually is for you to be aware of the room you are in. It is for the room in a way to exist. It is for there to be only physical activity in your head, however additionally described. It is for there to be non-spatial facts somehow in your head. The first theory, unlike the other two, satisfies five criteria for an adequate account of consciousness itself. The criteria have to do with the seeming nature of this consciousness, and with subjectivity, reality including non-abstractness, mind-body causation, and the differences between perceptual, reflective and affective consciousness. The theory of consciousness as existence is not open to the objection having to do with a deluded brain in a vat. The theory, as any theory of consciousness needs to, explains its own degree of failure in characterizing consciousness. It releases neuroscience and cognitive science from nervousness about consciousness, and leaves all of consciousness a subject for science. The theory is a reconstruction of our conception of consciousness. It may be that we should carry forward several theories of consciousness. But they will have to be compared in terms of truth to the five criteria for an adequate theory

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Ted Honderich
University College London

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