Consciousness, brain, and the physical world

Philosophical Psychology 3 (1):77-99 (1990)

Authors
Max Velmans
Goldsmiths College, University of London
Abstract
Dualist and Reductionist theories of mind disagree about whether or not consciousness can be reduced to a state of or function of the brain. They assume, however, that the contents of consciousness are separate from the external physical world as-perceived. According to the present paper this assumption has no foundation either in everyday experience or in science. Drawing on evidence for perceptual projection in both interoceptive and exteroceptive sense modalities, the case is made that the physical world as-perceived is a construct of perceptual processing and, therefore, part of the contents of consciousness. A finding which requires a Reflexive rather than a Dualist or Reductionist model of how consciousness relates to the brain and the physical world. The physical world as-perceived may, in turn be thought of as a biologically useful model of the world as described by physics. Redrawing the boundaries of consciousness to include the physical world as-perceived undermines the conventional separation of the 'mental' from the physical', and with it the very foundation of the Dualist-Reductionist debate. The alternative Reflexive model departs radically from current conventions, with consequences for many aspects of consciousness theory and research. Some of the consequences which bear on the internal consistency and intuitive plausibility of the model are explored, e.g. the causal sequence in perception, representationalism, a suggested resolution of the Realism versus Idealism debate, and the way manifest differences between physical events as-perceived and other conscious events are to be construed. In the present paper I wish to challenge some of our most deeply-rooted assumptions about what consciousness is, by re-examining how consciousness, the human brain, and the surrounding physical world relate to each other
Keywords Brain  Consciousness  Dualism  Reductionism  reflexive monism  reflexive model of perception  idealism  realism  representationalism  perceptual projection
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DOI 10.1080/09515089008572990
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References found in this work BETA

The Concept of Mind.Gilbert Ryle - 1949 - Hutchinson & Co.
Consciousness in Contemporary Science.Anthony J. Marcel & E. Bisiach (eds.) - 1988 - Oxford University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Is Human Information Processing Conscious?Max Velmans - 1991 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 14 (4):651-69.
Evidence Against Epiphenomenalism.Ned Block - 1991 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 14 (4):670-672.
Consciousness From a First-Person Perspective.Max Velmans - 1991 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 14 (4):702-726.

View all 93 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Psychophysical Nature.Max Velmans - 2009 - In Harald Atmanspacher & Hans Primas (eds.), Recasting Reality: Wolfgang Pauli's Philosophical Ideas and Contemporary Science. Springer. Berlin: Springer-Verlag. pp. 115-134..
Understanding Consciousness.Max Velmans - 2000 - London: Routledge.
The Possibility of Empirical Test of Hypotheses About Consciousness.Jean E. Burns - 1996 - In S. R. Hameroff, A. W. Kaszniak & A. C. Scott (eds.), Towards a Science of Consciousness. MIT Press. pp. 739--742.
A Reflexive Science of Consciousness.Max Velmans - 1993 - In Gregory Bock & Joan Marsh (eds.), Experimental and Theoretical Studies of Consciousness: Ciba Foundation Symposium 174. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons. pp. 81-99.
Reflexive Monism.Max Velmans - 2007 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 15 (2):5-50.
Contemporary Models of Consciousness, Part I.Jean E. Burns - 1990 - Journal of Mind and Behavior 11 (2):153-171.
A Natural Account of Phenomenal Consciousness.Max Velmans - 2001 - Communication and Cognition: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly Journal 34 (1):39-59.

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