Where experiences are: Dualist, physicalist, enactive and reflexive accounts of phenomenal consciousness


Authors
Max Velmans
Goldsmiths College, University of London
Abstract
Dualists believe that experiences have neither location nor extension, while reductive and ‘non-reductive’ physicalists (biological naturalists) believe that experiences are really in the brain, producing an apparent impasse in current theories of mind. Enactive and reflexive models of perception try to resolve this impasse with a form of “externalism” that challenges the assumption that experiences must either be nowhere or in the brain. However, they are externalist in very different ways. Insofar as they locate experiences anywhere, enactive models locate conscious phenomenology in the dynamic interaction of organisms with the external world, and in some versions, they reduce conscious phenomenology to such interactions, in the hope that this will resolve the hard problem of consciousness. The reflexive model accepts that experiences of the world result from dynamic organism–environment interactions, but argues that such interactions are preconscious. While the resulting phenomenal world is a consequence of such interactions, it cannot be reduced to them. The reflexive model is externalist in its claim that this external phenomenal world, which we normally think of as the “physical world,” is literally outside the brain. Furthermore, there are no added conscious experiences of the external world inside the brain. In the present paper I present the case for the enactive and reflexive alternatives to more classical views and evaluate their consequences. I argue that, in closing the gap between the phenomenal world and what we normally think of as the physical world, the reflexive model resolves one facet of the hard problem of consciousness. Conversely, while enactive models have useful things to say about percept formation and representation, they fail to address the hard problem of consciousness
Keywords Internalism versus Externalism  Enactive theories of consciousness  Hard Problem of Consciousness  Reflexive model of perception  Dualism  Reductionism
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DOI 10.1007/s11097-007-9071-1
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References found in this work BETA

A Sensorimotor Account of Vision and Visual Consciousness.J. Kevin O’Regan & Alva Noë - 2001 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 24 (5):883-917.
Is Human Information Processing Conscious?Max Velmans - 1991 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 14 (4):651-69.
Understanding Consciousness.Max Velmans - 2000 - London: Routledge.
Are There Neural Correlates of Consciousness?Alva Noë & Evan Thompson - 2004 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 11 (1):3-28.

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Citations of this work BETA

Meanings Attributed to the Term Consciousness: An Overview.Ram Vimal - 2009 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 16 (5):9-27.
Reflexive Monism.Max Velmans - 2008 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 15 (2):5-50.

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A Role for Consciousness.David Hodgson - 2008 - Philosophy Now 65:22-24.
A Natural Account of Phenomenal Consciousness.Max Velmans - 2001 - Communication and Cognition: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly Journal 34 (1):39-59.

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