The disunity of consciousness

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 76 (3):378-95 (1998)
Gerard O'Brien
University of Adelaide
Jonathan Opie
University of Adelaide
It is commonplace for both philosophers and cognitive scientists to express their allegiance to the "unity of consciousness". This is the claim that a subject’s phenomenal consciousness, at any one moment in time, is a single thing. This view has had a major influence on computational theories of consciousness. In particular, what we call single-track theories dominate the literature, theories which contend that our conscious experience is the result of a single consciousness-making process or mechanism in the brain. We argue that the orthodox view is quite wrong: phenomenal experience is not a unity, in the sense of being a single thing at each instant. It is a multiplicity, an aggregate of phenomenal elements, each of which is the product of a distinct consciousness-making mechanism in the brain. Consequently, cognitive science is in need of a multi-track theory of consciousness; a computational model that acknowledges both the manifold nature of experience, and its distributed neural basis
Keywords Body  Consciousness  Metaphysics  Unity
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Reprint years 2006
DOI 10.1080/00048409812348511
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References found in this work BETA

On a Confusion About a Function of Consciousness.Ned Block - 1995 - Brain and Behavioral Sciences 18 (2):227-–247.
A Cognitive Theory of Consciousness.Bernard J. Baars - 1988 - Cambridge University Press.
Mental Reality.Galen Strawson - 1994 - MIT Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Two Unities of Consciousness.Elizabeth Schechter - 2013 - European Journal of Philosophy 21 (2):197-218.
The Octopus and the Unity of Consciousness.Sidney Carls-Diamante - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (6):1269-1287.
The Unity of Consciousness: Clarification and Defence.Timothy J. Bayne - 2000 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 78 (2):248-254.
Disunity Defended: A Reply to Bayne.Gerard O'Brien & Jonathan Opie - 2000 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 78 (2):255-263.

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