The relationship between consciousness, understanding, and rationality

Philosophical Psychology 29 (7):943-957 (2016)
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The purpose of the present article is to explore the relationship between consciousness and understanding. To do so, I first briefly review recent work on the nature of both understanding and consciousness within philosophy and psychology. Building off of this work, I then defend the thesis that if one is conscious of a given content then one also understands that content. I argue that this conclusion can be drawn from the fact that understanding is associated with rational intention formation and the fact that conscious access appears to involve the selective routing/broadcasting of representational content to neural systems that integrate information in order to select cognitive/behavioral intentions in conjunction with goals. Based on these premises I illustrate how a disruption to the rationality of a representation’s influence on intention formation would also remove any evidence that a person was conscious of the content of that representation...



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Ryan Smith
Montana State University-Bozeman

Citations of this work

A neuro-cognitive defense of the unified self.Ryan Smith - 2017 - Consciousness and Cognition 48:21-39.

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References found in this work

On a confusion about a function of consciousness.Ned Block - 1995 - Brain and Behavioral Sciences 18 (2):227-–247.
Knowledge and the flow of information.F. Dretske - 1989 - Trans/Form/Ação 12:133-139.
Advertisement for a Semantics for Psychology.Ned Block - 1986 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 10 (1):615-678.
Dual-Process Theories of Higher Cognition Advancing the Debate.Jonathan Evans & Keith E. Stanovich - 2013 - Perspectives on Psychological Science 8 (3):223-241.

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