In Consciousness and Persons: Unity and Identity, Michael Tye takes on the thorny issue of the unity of consciousness and answers these important questions: What exactly is the unity of consciousness? Can a single person have a divided consciousness? What is a single person? Tye argues that unity is a fundamental part of human consciousness -- something so basic to everyday experience that it is easy to overlook. For example, when we hear the sound of waves (...) crashing on a beach and at the same time see a red warning flag, there is an overall unity to our experience; the sound and the red shape are presented together in our consciousness. Similarly, when we undergo a succession of thoughts as we think something through, there is an experience of succession that unifies the thoughts into a conscious whole. But, Tye shows, consciousness is not always unified. Split-brain subjects, whose corpus callosum has been severed, are usually taken to have a divided or disunified consciousness. Their behavior in certain situations implies that they have lost the unity normal human subjects take for granted; it is sometimes even supposed that a split-brain subject is really two persons.Tye begins his account by proposing an account of the unity of experience at a single time; this account is extended over the succeeding chapters to cover bodily sensations at a single time and perceptual experience, bodily sensations, conscious thoughts, and felt moods at a single time. Tye follows these chapters with a discussion of the unity of experience through time. Turning to the split-brain phenomenon, he proposes an account of the mental life of split-brain subjects and argues that certain facts about these subjects offer support for his theory of unity. Finally, addressing the topic of the nature of persons and personal identity, Tye finds the two great historical accounts -- the ego theory and the bundle theory -- lacking and he makes an alternative proposal. He includes an appendix on the general representational approach to consciousness and its many varieties, because of the relevance of representationalism to the theory of unity being adanced. (shrink)
It is common to hold that our conscious experiences at a single moment are often unified. But when consciousness is unified, what are the fundamental facts in virtue of which it is unified? On some accounts of the unity of consciousness, the most fundamental fact that grounds unity is a form of singularity or oneness. These accounts are similar to Newtonian views of space according to which the most fundamental fact that grounds relations of co-spatiality between various points (...) (or regions) of a space is the fact that these points (or regions) are parts of the same single space. In this paper, I sketch and defend an alternative account of unity of consciousness. Very roughly, the view holds that experiences are unified when they are connected in the right way. In this respect, the view is analogous to Leibnizian views of space according to which the oneness of space emerges from certain conditions over spatial relations. The Leibnizian alternative has significant implications for our understanding of the metaphysics of conscious experience, the cognitive architecture of the mind and our assessment of the conditions under which unity of consciousness breaks. (shrink)
The unity of consciousness has so far been studied only as a relation holding among the many experiences of a single subject. I investigate whether this relation could hold between the experiences of distinct subjects, considering three major arguments against the possibility of such ‘between-subjects unity’. The first argument, based on the popular idea that unity implies subsumption by a composite experience, can be deflected by allowing for limited forms of ‘experience-sharing’, in which the same token experience (...) belongs to more than one subject. The second argument, based on the phenomenological claim that unified experiences have interdependent phenomenal characters, I show to rest on an equivocation. Finally, the third argument accuses between-subjects unity of being unimaginable, or more broadly a formal possibility corresponding to nothing we can make sense of. I argue that the familiar experience of perceptual co-presentation gives us an adequate phenomenological grasp on what between-subjects unity might be like. (shrink)
At least since Russell’s influential discussion in The Principles of Mathematics, many philosophers have held there is a problem that they call the problem of the unity of the proposition. In a recent paper, I argued that there is no single problem that alone deserves the epithet the problem of the unity of the proposition. I there distinguished three problems or questions, each of which had some right to be called a problem regarding the unity of the (...) proposition; and I showed how the account of propositions formulated in my book The Nature and Structure of Content [2007 Oxford University Press] solves each of these problems. In the present paper, I take up two of these problems/questions yet again. For I want to consider other accounts of propositions and compare their solutions to these problems, or lack thereof, to mine. I argue that my account provides the best solutions to the unity problems. (shrink)
Grounding, understood as a primitive posit operative in contexts where metaphysical dependence is at issue, is not able on its own to do any substantive work in characterizing or illuminating metaphysical dependence---or so I argue in 'No Work for a Theory of Grounding' (Inquiry, 2014). Such illumination rather requires appeal to specific metaphysical relations---type or token identity, functional realization, the determinable-determinate relation, the mereological part-whole relation, and so on---of the sort typically at issue in these contexts. In that case, why (...) posit 'big-G' Grounding in addition to the 'small-g' grounding relations already in the metaphysician's toolkit? The best reasons for doing so stem from the Unity argument, according to which the further posit of Grounding is motivated as an apt unifier of the specific relations, and the Priority argument, according to which Grounding is needed in order to fix the direction of priority of the specific relations. I previously considered versions of these arguments, and argued that they did not succeed; in two papers, however, Jonathan Schaffer aims to develop a better version of the Unity argument, and offers certain objections to my reasons for rejecting the Priority argument. Here I consider these new arguments for Grounding. (shrink)
In the section ‘Unity and Objectivity’ of The Bounds of Sense, P. F. Strawson argues for the thesis that unity of consciousness requires experience of an objective world. My aim in this essay is to evaluate this claim. In the first and second parts of the essay, I explicate Strawson's thesis, reconstruct his argument, and identify the point at which the argument fails. Strawson's discussion nevertheless raises an important question: are there ways in which we must think of (...) our experiences if we are to self-ascribe them? In the third part of the essay, I use Kant's remarks concerning the passivity of experience to suggest one answer to this question: in self-ascribing experiences, we must be capable of thinking of them as passive to their objects. This can be used to provide an alternative route from unity to objectivity. (shrink)
The paradox of the concept horse has often been taken to be devastating for Frege’s ontological distinction between objects and concepts. I argue that if we consider how the concept-object distinction is supposed to account for the unity of linguistic meaning, it transpires that the paradox is in fact not paradoxical.
The paper studies, within the framework of Martin Heidegger's narrative of the history of metaphysics, two perspectives on the unity of being: the "protometaphysical" perspective of Parmenides, the thinker of the "first beginning" of Western philosophy, and the postmetaphysical perspective of Heidegger, situated in the ongoing transition from the Hegelian and Nietzschean end of metaphysics to a forthcoming "other beginning" of Western thought. Both perspectives involve a certain "crisis", in the literal sense of the Greek krisis, "distinction," "decision." Parmenides' (...) goddess exhorts the thinker to decide for being in the sense of pure intelligible accessibility or presence and to exclude all references to non-accessibility and non-presence. This is the foundation of the Parmenidean thesis of the unity of being. In the Heideggerian perspective, by contrast, meaningful presence is seen as constituted precisely by references to a withdrawing meaning-context, to background dimensions that in themselves are not immediately present. Since presence is constituted only in terms of non-presence, the "decision" or "crisis" between presence and non-presence is an unresolvable and irreducible feature of postmetaphysical thinking. (shrink)
The question of the unity of consciousness is often treated as the question of how different conscious experiences are related to each other in order to be unified. Many contemporary views on the unity of consciousness are based on this bottom-up approach. In this paper I explore an alternative, top-down approach, according to which (to a first approximation) a subject undergoes one single conscious experience at a time. From this perspective, the problem of unity of consciousness becomes (...) rather the problem of how we can distinguish a multiplicity of goings-on within our conscious experience at any time, given that it is unique. I will present three possible top-down approaches to unity of consciousness, which I call Priority unity monism, Existence unity monism, and Brentanian unity monism. Priority monism and Existence monism are defined in analogy with the homonymous metaphysical theories of object constitution. Brentanian monism retraces Franz Brentano’s view on unity of consciousness, and is defined by appeal to some of his mereological ideas. I will argue that the latter is the best top-down approach to unity of consciousness. (shrink)
The goal of this paper is to raise a few questions about Bayne s mereological account of the unity of consciousness. In Section 1, I raise a few clarificatory questions about the account and the thesis that consciousness is necessarily unified. In Sections 2 and 3, I offer an alternative view of unity of consciousness and contrast it with Bayne's view. I call this view the connectivity account. These sections prepare the ground for the main question of this (...) article: why should we prefer Bayne's mereological view to the connectivity view? (shrink)
The problem of the unity of the proposition asks what binds together the constituents of a proposition into a fully formed proposition that provides truth conditions for the assertoric sentence that expresses it, rather than merely a set of objects. Hanks’ solution is to reject the traditional distinction between content and force. If his theory is successful, then there is a plausible extension of it that readily solves the Frege–Geach problem for normative propositions. Unfortunately Hanks’ theory isn’t successful, but (...) it does point to significant connections between expressivism, unity, and embedding. (shrink)
Life as self-organization is philosophically understood by L. Polo in terms of co-causality between matter, formal configuration and intrinsic efficiency. This characterization provides a dynamic account of life and soul, capable to explain both its identity and its continuous renovation. In this article I especially highlight in this author the metaphysical notions of finality, unity and cosmos, which may be helpful to understand the sense of biological systems in the universe.
In this essay I argue that the central problem of Aristotle’s Metaphysics H (VIII) 6 is the unity of forms and that he solves this problem in just the way he solves the problem of the unity of composites – by hylomorphism. I also discuss the matter– form relationship in H 6, arguing that they have a correlative nature as the matter of the form and the form of the matter.
The Appendix to the Transcendental Dialectic of Kant's first Critique is notorious for two reasons. First, it appears to contradict itself in saying that the idea of the systematic unity of nature is and is not transcendental. Second, in the passages in which Kant appears to espouse the former alternative, he appears to be making a significant amendment to his account of the conditions of the possibility of experience in the Transcendental Analytic. I propose a solution to both of (...) these difficulties. With regard to the first, I argue that Kant does not contradict himself. With regard to the second, I argue that Kant is not making any change to his view of the conditions of the possibility of experience espoused in the Transcendental Analytic. The underlying cause of these apparent problems is also their solution: the transcendental illusion that nature is necessarily systematic. (shrink)
In this paper, I consider particular attempts by E. J. Lowe and Michael Gorman at providing an independence criterion of substancehood and argue that the stipulative exclusion of non-particulars and proper parts (or constituents) from such accounts raises difficult issues for their proponents. The results of the present discussion seem to indicate that, at least for the case of composite entities, a unity criterion of substancehood might have at least as much, and perhaps more, to offer than an independence (...) criterion and therefore ought to be explored further by neo-Aristotelians in search of a defensible notion of substancehood. I indicated briefly how such a unity criterion might be used by neo-Aristotelians to support the inclusion of hylomorphic compounds in the category of substance, given the traditional role of form as the principle of unity within the compound. (shrink)
This paper addresses a number of closely related questions concerning Kant's model of intentionality, and his conceptions of unity and of magnitude [Gröβe]. These questions are important because they shed light on three issues which are central to the Critical system, and which connect directly to the recent analytic literature on perception: the issues are conceptualism, the status of the imagination, and perceptual atomism. In Section 1, I provide a sketch of the exegetical and philosophical problems raised by Kant's (...) views on these issues. I then develop, in Section 2, a detailed analysis of Kant's theory of perception as elaborated in both the Critique of Pure Reason and the Critique of Judgment; I show how this analysis provides a preliminary framework for resolving the difficulties raised in Section 1. In Section 3, I extend my analysis of Kant's position by considering a specific test case: the Axioms of Intuition. I contend that one way to make sense of Kant's argument is by juxtaposing it with Russell's response to Bradley's regress; I focus in particular on the concept of ‘unity’. Finally, I offer, in Section 4, a philosophical assessment of the position attributed to Kant in Sections 2 and 3. I argue that, while Kant's account has significant strengths, a number of key areas remain underdeveloped; I suggest that the phenomenological tradition may be read as attempting to fill precisely those gaps. (shrink)
As a working hypothesis for philosophy of science, the unity of science thesis has been decisively challenged in all its standard formulations; it cannot be assumed that the sciences presuppose an orderly world, that they are united by the goal of systematically describing and explaining this order, or that they rely on distinctively scientific methodologies which, properly applied, produce domain-specific results that converge on a single coherent and comprehensive system of knowledge. I first delineate the scope of arguments against (...) global unity theses. However implausible old-style global unity theses may now seem, I argue that unifying strategies of a more local and contingent nature do play an important role in scientific inquiry. This is particularly clear in archaeology where, to establish evidential claims of any kind, practitioners must exploit a range of inter-field and inter-theory connections. At the same time, the robustness of these evidential claims depends on significant disunity between the sciences from which archaeologists draw background assumptions and auxiliary hypotheses. This juxtaposition of unity with disunity poses a challenge to standard positions in the debate about scientific unity. (shrink)
This is an excerpt of a report that highlights and explores five questions which arose from The Unity of Consciousness and Sensory Integration conference at Brown University in November of 2011. This portion of the report explores the question: Is the mechanism of sensory integration spatio-temporal?
Synesthesia is the “union of the senses” whereby two or more of the five senses that are normally experienced separately are involuntarily and automatically joined together in experience. For example, some synesthetes experience a color when they hear a sound or see a letter. In this paper, I examine two cases of synesthesia in light of the notions of “experiential parts” and “conscious unity.” I first provide some background on the unity of consciousness and the question of experiential (...) parts. I then describe two very different cases of synesthesia. Finally, I critically examine the cases in light of two central notions of “unity.” I argue that there is good reason to think that the neural “vehicles” of conscious states are distributed widely and can include multiple modalities. I also argue that some synesthetic experiences do not really enjoy the same “object unity” associated with normal vision. (shrink)
This paper concerns the role that reference to subjects of experience can play in individuating streams of consciousness, and the relationship between the subjective and the objective structure of consciousness. A critique of Tim Bayne’s recent book indicates certain crucial choices that works on the unity of consciousness must make. If one identifies the subject of experience with something whose consciousness is necessarily unified, then one cannot offer an account of the objective structure of consciousness. Alternatively, identifying the subject (...) of experience with an animal means forgoing the conceptual connection between being a subject of experience and having a single phenomenal perspective. (shrink)
This is an excerpt of a report that highlights and explores five questions which arose from The Unity of Consciousness and Sensory Integration conference at Brown University in November of 2011. This portion of the report explores the question: What is the relationship between the unity of consciousness and sensory integration?
This report highlights and explores five questions which arose from The Unity of Consciousness and Sensory Integration conference at Brown University in November of 2011: 1. What is the relationship between the unity of consciousness and sensory integration? 2. Are some of the basic units of consciousness multimodal? 3. How should we model the unity of consciousness? 4. Is the mechanism of sensory integration spatio-temporal? 5. How Should We Study Experience, Given Unity Relations?
The paper argues that empirical work on Buddhist meditation has an impact on Buddhist epistemology, in particular their account of unity of consciousness. I explain the Buddhist account of unity of consciousness and show how it relates to contemporary philosophical accounts of unity of consciousness. The contemporary accounts of unity of consciousness are closely integrated with the discussion of neural correlates of consciousness. The conclusion of the paper suggests a new direction in the search for neural (...) correlates of state consciousness or creature consciousness. (shrink)
This is an excerpt of a report that highlights and explores five questions which arose from The Unity of Consciousness and Sensory Integration conference at Brown University in November of 2011. This portion of the report explores the question: Are some of the basic units of consciousness multimodal?
In his critical works of the 1780's, Kant claims, seemingly inconsistently, that (1) theoretical and practical reason are one and the same reason, applied differently, (2) that he still needs to show that they are, and (3) that theoretical and practical reason are united. I first argue that current interpretations of Kant's doctrine of the unity of reason are insufficient. But rather than concluding that Kant’s doctrine becomes coherent only in the Critique of Judgment, I show that the three (...) statements are compatible, providing a new and more coherent account of Kant's 1780's doctrine of the unity of reason. (shrink)
In this paper, I want to discuss the relation between ambivalence and the unity of the self. I will raise the question whether a person can be both ambivalent about his own will and nevertheless be wholehearted. Since Harry Frankfurt’s theory is my main point of reference, I briefly introduce his account of the will and the reasons for his opposition towards ambivalence in the first section. In the second section, I analyse different interpretations of ambivalence. In the third (...) section, I provide a narrative account of a diachronic integration of the self that allows for the integration of volitional ambivalence. Finally, I scrutinise different meanings of the unity of the self, since disintegration, not ambivalence, seems to be bad for us. I conclude that persons can indeed be wholeheartedly ambivalent. (shrink)
Consciousness has a number of puzzling features. One such feature is its unity: the experiences and other conscious states that one has at a particular time seem to occur together in a certain way. I am currently enjoying visual experiences of my computer screen, auditory experiences of bird-song, olfactory experiences of coffee, and tactile experiences of feeling the ground beneath my feet. Conjoined with these perceptual experiences are proprioceptive experiences, experiences of agency, affective and emotional experiences, and conscious thoughts (...) of various kinds. These experiences are unified in a variety of ways, but the kind of unity that I’m interested in here concerns their phenomenal character. Take just two of these experiences: the sound of bird-song and the smell of coffee. There is something it is like to have the auditory experience, there is something it is like to have the olfactory experience, and there is something it is like to have both the auditory and olfactory experiences together. These two experiences occur as parts or components or aspects of a larger, more complex experience. And what holds of these two experiences seems to hold – at least in normal contexts – of all of one’s simultaneous experiences: they seem to be subsumed by a single, maximal experience.2 We could think of this maximal experience as an experiential perspective on the world. What it is like to be me right now is (or involves) an extremely complex conscious state that subsumes the various simpler experiences that I outlined above (seeing my computer screen, hearing bird-song, smelling coffee, and so on). I will follow recent literature in using the term “co-consciousness” for the relation that a set of conscious states bear to each other when they have a complex phenomenology (Bayne and Chalmers 2003; Dainton 2000; Hurley 1998; Lockwood 1989). (shrink)
Binding can be described at three different levels: In neuroscience it refers to the integration of single-cell activities to form functional neural assemblies, especially in response to global stimulus properties; in cognitive science it refers to the integration of distributed modular input processing to form unified representations for memory and action, and in consciousness studies it refers to the unity of phenomenal consciousness . To describe and explain the unity of consciousness, detailed phenomenological descriptions of binding at the (...) phenomenal level and clarification of the underlying cognitive and neural mechanisms are required. The disunity of consciousness during dreaming is a fruitful avenue to study phenomenal binding and its mechanisms. The notion of the 'bizarreness' of dreams is closely related to the concept of 'binding': bizarreness can be reconceptualized as referring to different types of unusual combinations of features in the binding of dream images coherently together. The present study concentrates on the representation of human characters and the bizarreness found in these representations. We developed a rating scale that distinguishes different types of bizarreness on the basis of the unusual combinations of elements that are manifested in dream images. The data consisted of 592 dream reports in the home-based dream diaries of 52 students. The results indicate that about half of the human characters appearing in our dreams contain bizarre elements, and that certain types of bizarreness are more frequent than others. Phenomenal features intrinsic to the representation of a person are less frequently bizarre than is the external relation between the person and the context . Thus, binding the local features of a representation coherently together appears to be less prone to errors than binding several different information streams together into a coherent phenomenal model of the world. (shrink)
ABSTRACTThis paper elaborates a conception of the unity of science that emerges in the context of Dilthey’s well-known treatment of the distinction between the Naturwissenschaften and the Geisteswissenschaften. Dilthey’s account of the epistemological foundations of the Geisteswissenschaften presupposes, this paper argues, their continuity with the natural sciences. The unity of the two domains has both a psychological and a biological basis. Whereas the psychological functions at work in scientific thinking, the articulation of which is the task of Dilthey’s (...) proposed science of ‘descriptive and analytic psychology’, are common to both kinds of sciences, their ontological ground consists in the embodied and environmentally situated context of human beings, and is expressed in Dilthey’s central concept of ‘life’. Accordingly, this paper develops the shared biopsychological foundations of the epistemology of the natural and human sciences from Dilthey’s writings in the 1880s and 1890s. Dilthey’s conception... (shrink)
This is an excerpt of a report that highlights and explores five questions which arose from The Unity of Consciousness and Sensory Integration conference at Brown University in November of 2011. This portion of the report explores the question: How should we model the unity of consciousness?
Different interpretations of Bradley’s regress argument are considered. On the basis of textual evidences, it is argued that the most persuasive is the one that sees the argument as primarily addressing the general issue of unity or connectedness.
Suárez held that the vital faculties of the soul are really distinct from the soul itself and each other and that they cannot causally interact. This means that he needed to account for the connections between the activities of the faculties: they both interfere with and contribute to each other’s activities. Suárez does so by giving the soul a direct causal role in these activities. This role requires the unity of the soul of a living being and Suárez used (...) it to argue against the view that a living being, in particular a human being, has more than one soul. This line of thought displays some affinity with arguments for the simplicity of the soul from the unity of consciousness. One important difference is that Suárez was talking not just about mental activities but about all vital activities. (shrink)
In "The Disunity of Consciousness," Gerard O'Brien and Jon Opie argue that human consciousness is not synchronically unified. They suggest that the orthodox conception of the unity of consciousness admits of two readings, neither of which they find persuasive. According to them, "a conscious individual does not have a single consciousness, but several distinct phenomenal consciousnesses, at least one for each of the senses, running in parallel." They call this conception of consciousness the _multi-track account. I make three points (...) in reply: (1) O'Brien and Opie's characterization of the orthodox conception of the unity of consciousness is problematic; (2) their arguments in support of the multitrack account are unpersuasive; and (3) the phenomenon of intersensory integration suggests that O'Brien and Opie are wrong to claim that "the only sense in which it is correct to talk of a 'unified' consciousness (...) is that in which the representational contents of the various components coincide.". (shrink)
n this paper I would like to defend the three interconnected claims. The first one is based on that fact that the definition of substance dualism proposed recently by Dean Zimmerman needs some essential adjustments in order to capture the genuine spirit of this doctrine. In this paper I will formulate the conditions for the genuine substance dualism in contrast to quasi-dualisms and provide the definition for the genuine substance dualism which I consider to be more appropriate than the Zimmerman's (...) one. The second claim is that none of the contemporary forms of substance dualism is able to provide the satisfactory evaluation of the conscious subjectivity. To support this claim I can present two arguments: the first one is against the Cartesian Dualism, and another is against the Emergent Dualism. The third claim, I believe, derives from the two mentioned above: if the dualistic arguments against the ability of physicalist theories to provide the sound account for the unity of a subject of consciousness are persuasive enough, then, in order to acquire the more adequate account of the unity of conscious subject, we should look more closely towards such forms of quasi-dualism as spiritualism or the broad Aristotelian view of human persons. (shrink)
Most researchers of emotions agree that although cognitive evaluations such as beliefs, thoughts, etc. are essential for emotion, bodily feelings and their behavioral expressions are also required. Yet, only a few explain how all these diverse aspects of emotion are related to form the unity or oneness of emotion. The most prevalent account of unity is the causal view, which, however, has been shown to be inadequate because it sees the relations between the different parts of emotion as (...) external and contingent. I argue that an adequate account of unity would require internal or conceptual relations between the aspects of emotion, and I suggest that such an account can be found in Aristotle's metaphysics and theory of emotion, and specifically, in his form and matter distinction. After I show that emotions are intentional pleasures and pains or distresses, I argue that the characteristic intentional pleasure and pain of an emotion, along with its other intentional elements , are the form of the emotion, whereas the bodily feelings are its matter. Form and matter constitute a conceptual unity, which cannot be accounted for in conglomeration accounts that see emotions as mixtures of different parts related only through efficient causation. (shrink)
Recent findings in neuroscience strongly suggest that an object’s features (e.g., its color, texture, shape, etc.) are represented in separate areas of the visual cortex. Although represented in separate neuronal areas, somehow the feature representations are brought together as a single, unified object of visual consciousness. This raises a question of binding: how do neural activities in separate areas of the visual cortex function to produce a feature-unified object of visual consciousness? Several prominent neuroscientists have adopted neural synchrony and attention-based (...) approaches to explain object feature binding. I argue that although neural synchrony and attentional mechanisms might function to disambiguate an object’s features, it is difficult to see how either of these mechanisms could fully explain the unity of an object’s features at the level of visual consciousness. After presenting a detailed critique of neural synchrony and attention-based approaches to object feature binding, I propose interactive hierarchical structuralism (IHS). This view suggests that a unified percept (i.e., a feature-unified object of visual consciousness) is not reducible to the activity of any cognitive capacity or to any localized neural area, but emerges out of the interaction of visual information organized by spatial structuring capacities correlated with lower, higher, and intermediate levels of the visual hierarchy. After clarifying different notions of emergence and elaborating evidence for IHS, I discuss how IHS can be tested through transcranial magnetic stimulation and backward masking. In the final section I present some further implications and advantages of IHS. (shrink)
This is an excerpt of a report that highlights and explores five questions which arose from The Unity of Consciousness and Sensory Integration conference at Brown University in November of 2011. This portion of the report explores the question: How should we study experience, given unity relations?
It is suggested that consciousness is primarily associated not with stimuli and perception, as commonly supposed, but with movement and responses. Consciousness of stimuli arises in situations in which possible movements are planned, or in which information must be actively acquired rather than passively registered, and may or may not require overt movements to be performed. By emphasizing response, this formulation provides a simple explanation for the perceived unity of consciousness: though stimuli can be diverse, with independent components, movements (...) must necessarily be coordinated. Therefore, if we are to look for a `site' for consciousness, it is likely to be in a region such as the anterior cingulate that is neurally close to the higher motor hierarchical levels, and also accessible both to real sensory feedback and also to virtual feedback derived through mechanisms of efference copy from actual or proposed motor commands. It is suggested that synchrony of arrival of such information may be an important prerequisite of this unity, and that on this basis such a `master node' might be expected to be temporally `equidistant' from each of these sources; this may well be true of the anterior cingulate, but no doubt also of other structures. (shrink)
Richard Gaskin’s work on the problem of the unity of the proposition (“the problem”, henceforth) has sometimes been called magisterial due to its vast historical and conceptual scope. Indeed, the author engages in lengthy discussions of the conceptions of propositions that have been overlooked by most previous investigations on the problem. Not only aspects of Frege’s and Russell’s theories of propositions that appear most problematic are subject to Gaskin’s investigation, it also includes Prabhākara semantics, the approach of Gregory of (...) Rimini and various parts of Abelard’s thought just to name a few. Furthermore, the purpose of this work is manifold. It is not solely a historical account of the importance of the problem, nor is it only a critique of the views explored. Gaskin ventures to provide his own original solution to the problem of the unity of the proposition. The solution and the arguments in its favour, however, are deeply embedded in the structure of the extensive historical treatment of the problem and, hence, cannot be precisely depicted due to limited space. In what follows I shall hope to provide a general idea of how Gaskin approaches the topic historically and what is his endorsement towards it. Lastly, I discuss the proposed solution to the problem. (shrink)
There are researchers in cognitive science who use clinical and experimental evidence to draw some rather skeptical conclusions about a central feature of our conscious experience, its unity. They maintain that the examination of clinical phenomena reveals that human consciousness has a much more fragmentary character than the one we normally attribute to it. In the article, these claims are questioned by examining some of the clinical studies on the deficit of anosognosia. I try to show that these studies (...) support a moderate sense of the unity of reflexive consciousness. (shrink)
In this commentary, I critically assess Rex Welshon’s position on the neural substrates of ownership unity. First, I comment on Welshon’s definition of ownership unity and underline some of the problems stemming from his phenomenological analysis. Second, I analyze Welshon’s proposal to establish a mechanistic relation between neural substrates and ownership unity. I show that it is insufficient and defend my own position on how neural mechanisms may give rise to whole subjects of experience, which I call (...) the neuro-integrative account of consciousness. Lastly, I comment on Welshon’s philosophical contribution and claim that it leaves the reader theoretically stranded. (shrink)
There are two different varieties of question concerning the unity of consciousness: questions about unity at a time, and unity over time. A recent trend in the debate about unity has been to attempt to provide a ‘generalized’ account that purports to solve both problems in the same way. This attempt can be seen in the accounts of Barry Dainton and Michael Tye. In this paper, I argue that there are crucial differences between unity over (...) time and unity at a time that make it impossible to provide a generalized account of unity. The source of these crucial differences is the phenomenon of the ‘continuity of consciousness’. I argue that accounts of unity over time have to provide an account of this continuity, and that there is no phenomenon analogous to continuity in the case of unity at a time. Attention to the continuity of consciousness reveals crucial structural differences between the two varieties of unity. These structural differences make it impossible to provide a generalized account of unity. I show that the problems faced by Dainton’s and Tye’s accounts in the light of the structural differences make their accounts of unity appear far less appealing than they might initially have looked. I conclude by noting that, in the light of the important differences between the two varieties of unity, it is a mistake to attempt to model accounts of unity over time on accounts of unity at a time. (shrink)
In his recent book, Reasons and Persons, Derek Parfit propounds a version of the psychological criterion of personal identity.1 According to the variant he adopts, the numerical identity through time of persons consists in non-branching psychological continuity no matter how it is caused. One traditional objection to a view of this sort is that it is circular, since psychological continuity presupposes personal identity. Although Parfit frequently denies the importance of personal identity, he considers his own psychological account of identity important (...) enough to attempt to defend it against the charge of circularity. The aim of this paper is to argue that Parfit's attempted defence is unsuccessful because it ultimately rests on an analysis of the unity of consciousness that is itself either circular or otherwise inadequate. (shrink)
On the one hand, it is obvious that a person’s conscious experiences are unified with one another in a way that they are not unified with anyone else’s experiences. My experiences are mine, and yours are not. On the other hand, it is equally plain that a person’s experiences are not monolithic. Generally, I can distinguish various aspects of my experiences, and I can attend to some rather than others. Conscious experience is unified, and it is not. Is there a (...) unification thesis that is substantial, interesting and plausible? Tim Bayne sets out to defend an affirmative answer in his The Unity of Consciousness. (shrink)
Both Kant and Davidson view the existence of mental states, and so the possibility of mental content, as dependent on the obtaining of a certain unity among such states. And the unity at issue seems also to be tied, in the case of both thinkers, to a form of self-reflexivity. No appeal to self-reflexivity, however, can be adequate to explain the unity of consciousness that is necessary for the possibility of content- it merely shifts the focus of (...) the question from the unity of consciousness in general to the unity of self-reflexivity in particular. Through a comparison of the views of Kant and Davidson on these matters, the nature of the unity of consciousness is explored, in relation to both the idea of the unity of the self and the unity that would seem to be required for the possibility of content. These forms of unity are seen to be indeed connected, and to be grounded, in Davidson and perhaps also in Kant, in organized, oriented, embodied activity. (shrink)
In outdoor education discourse the notion of relation is often employed to convey basic connections between humanity and nature as human–nature relationships, yet the sense of relation itself is rarely questioned. Drawing on the work of Peirce and Dewey, I explore the ramifications of a more nuanced understanding of relation, specifically how relation works with and within differing senses of unity. These ramifications have consequences for how we understand human–nature relationships, which I argue are better conveyed in terms of (...) culture–place. The various forms of unity described by Peirce inform more nuanced understandings of culture–place as cultureplace, with implications for the notion of transculturality. My specific concern with outdoor education then enables me to show how cultureplace and culture–place may be considered to have relevance pedagogically, especially in relation to dealing with cultural and environmental crises. (shrink)
A proper understanding of the Sufi doctrine of the unity of existence is essential for following the later developments of Islamic philosophy. The doctrine of the unity of existence is divided into introversive and extroversive aspects, the former dealing with the unity of the soul of the mystic with God, and the latter with the unity of the cosmos with God. Here this latter aspect of the doctrine is explained through a comparison of the views of (...) Ibn ‘Arabi and Meister Eckhart, both of whom are profoundly influenced by Ibn Sina at precisely the same crucial points, although Meister Eckhart makes explicit reference to Ibn Sina, while Ibn ‘Arabi generally avoids naming him. The theory of the extroversive unity of existence consists of four parts, or rather, it is the product of four steps, each of which is logically based on the previous one: (1) God is the only being or the absolute existence. (2) Everything other than God (i. e., human beings and the cosmos) is nothing or nonexistence. (3) The existence of all things is God’s existence (All are He). (4) The cosmos does not have existence but manifests existence. In other words, it is God’s self-disclosure. (shrink)
In The Impossibility of Perfection, Michael Slote tries to show that the traditional Aristotelian doctrine of the unity of the virtues is mistaken. His argumentative strategy is to provide counterexamples to this doctrine, by showing that there are what he calls “partial virtues”—pairs of virtues that conflict with one another but both of which are ethically indispensible. Slote offers two lines of argument for the existence of partial virtues. The first is an argument for the partiality of a particular (...) pair of virtues: frankness and tact. The second is a kind of feminist critique. I argue that both of these lines of argument fail. In both cases, Slote fails to ask whether the apparent conflict between putatively partial virtues has arisen from a misunderstanding of the demands of those virtues. From this error I suggest we can learn an important lesson: whether in our studies thinking about the virtues or in our everyday lives trying to practice them, it is a serious mistake to focus on the relationships among virtues without considering precisely what each of these virtues demands. (shrink)