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Abstract: My goal is to try to understand the intentionality of consciousness from a naturalistic perspective. My basic methodological assumption is that embodied agents, through their sensory-motor, affective, and cognitive activities directed at objects, engage in intentional relations with these objects. Furthermore, I assume that intentional relations can be viewed from a first- and a third-person perspective. What is called primary consciousness is the first-person perspective of the agent engaged in a current intentional relation. While primary consciousness posits an implicit
Abstract: Representationalists argue that phenomenal states are intentional states of a special kind. This paper offers an account of the kind of intentional state phenomenal states are: I argue that they are underived intentional states. This account of phenomenal states is equivalent to two theses: first, all possible phenomenal states are underived intentional states; second, all possible underived intentional states are phenomenal states. I clarify these claims and argue for each of them. I also address objections which touch on a range of topics, including meaning holism and concept empiricism. I conclude with a brief discussion of the consequences of the proposed view for the project of naturalizing consciousness.
Abstract: A satisfactory solution to the problem of consciousness would take the form of a simple yet fully general model which specifies the precise conditions under which any given state of consciousness occurs. Science has uncovered numerous correlations between consciousness and neural activity, but it has not yet come anywhere close to this. We are still looking for the Newtonian laws of consciousness. One of the main difficulties with consciousness is that we lack a language in which to formulate illuminating generalizations about it. Philosophers and scientists talk about "what it’s like", sensations, feelings, and perceptual states such as seeing and hearing. This language does not allow a precise articulation of the internal structures of conscious states and their inter-relations. It is inadequate to capture relations of the kind we are looking for between conscious states and physical states. In this thesis I refine and defend a theory of consciousness which promises to solve this regimentation problem: the representational theory of consciousness. I argue that the representational theory can solve the regimentation problem and smooth out other important obstacles to a fruitful study of consciousness. I also make a case for the theory independently of its payoffs, and I discuss the leading opposing theories at some length. In the rest of this introduction, I will clarify what I mean by "consciousness", provide an initial characterization of the representational theory, and outline my project in more detail
Abstract: In the Standard Model of the Mind currently employed in cognitive science we have corresponding to thought and sense two distinct kinds of properties: intentional and qualitative. On the one hand we have qualitative states, which are generally agreed to be those states which there is ‘something that it is like’ for the subject that has them; I will say that these states have a quality. On the other hand we have intentional states, which have the property of being about something, called intentionality, and which lack a quality. There is nothing that it is like to have intentional states. According to the Standard Model all mental phenomena have one or another, or both, of these properties. There are some mental phenomena that are purely qualitative (perhaps sensations and their sensory qualities) and some that are purely intentional (thoughts) and still others that are a mix of both (perceptions and emotions). Of course, there are those who resist the Standard Model, drawn as they are to the siren song of a single mark of the mental
Abstract: ‘It is of the very nature of consciousness to be intentional’ said Jean-Paul Sartre, ‘and a consciousness that ceases to be a consciousness of something would ipso facto cease to exist’.1 Sartre here endorses the central doctrine of Husserl’s phenomenology, itself inspired by a famous idea of Brentano’s: that intentionality, the mind’s ‘direction upon its objects’, is what is distinctive of mental phenomena. Brentano’s originality does not lie in pointing out the existence of intentionality, or in inventing the terminology, which derives from scholastic discussions of concepts or intentiones.2 Rather, his originality consists in his claim that the concept of intentionality marks out the subject matter of psychology: the mental. His view was that intentionality ‘is characteristic exclusively of mental phenomena. No physical phenomenon manifests anything like it’.3 This is Brentano’s thesis that intentionality is the mark of the mental. Despite the centrality of the concept of intentionality in contemporary philosophy of mind, and despite the customary homage paid to Brentano as the one who revived the terminology and placed the concept at the centre of philosophy, Brentano’s thesis is widely rejected by contemporary philosophers of mind. What is more, its rejection is not something which is thought to require substantial philosophical argument. Rather, the falsity of the thesis is taken as a starting-point in many contemporary discussions of intentionality, something so obvious that it only needs to be stated to be recognised as true. Consider, for instance, these remarks from the opening pages of Searle’s Intentionality: Some, not all, mental states and events have Intentionality. Beliefs, fears, hopes and desires are Intentional; but there are forms of nervousness, elation and undirected anxiety that are not Intentional.... My beliefs and desires must always be about something. But my nervousness and undirected anxiety need not in that way be about anything.4 Searle takes this as obvious, so obvious that it is not in need of further argument or elucidation..
Abstract: The Connection Principle (hereafter, CP) says that there is some kind of internal relation between a state's1 having intentional content ("aspectual shape") and its being (at least potentially) conscious. Searle's argument for the principle is just that potential consciousness is the only thing he can think of that would distinguish original intentionality from ersatz (Searle, 1992, pp. 84, 155 and passim. All Searle references are to 1992). Cognitivists have generally found this argument underwhelming given the empirical successes recently enjoyed by linguistic and psychological theories with which, according to Searle, CP is not reconcilable. Our primary interest in this paper is not, however, to decide whether CP is true, but just to get as clear as we can about what exactly it asserts. Finding a reasonable formulation of the principle turns out to be harder than Searle appears to suppose; or so we claim
Abstract: How come we can represent Bigfoot even though Bigfoot does not exist, given that representing something involves bearing a relation to it and we cannot bear relations to what does not exist?This is the problem of intentional inexistence. This paper develops a two-step solution to this problem, involving (first) an adverbial account of conscious representation, or phenomenal inten- tionality, and (second) the thesis that all representation derives from conscious representation (all intentionality derives from phenomenal intentionality). The solution is correspondingly two-part: we can consciously represent Bigfoot because consciously representing Bigfoot does not involve bearing a relation to Bigfoot, but rather instantiating a certain non-relational (“adverbial”) property of representing Bigfoot-wise; and we can non-consciously represent Bigfoot because non-consciously representing Bigfoot does not involve bearing a relation to Bigfoot, but rather bearing a relation to conscious representations of Bigfoot
Abstract: It is often assumed thatconsciousness and intentionality are twomutually independent aspects of mental life.When the assumption is denounced, it usuallygives way to the claim that consciousness issomehow dependent upon intentionality. Thepossibility that intentionality may bedependent upon consciousness is rarelyentertained. Recently, however, John Searle andColin McGinn have argued for just suchdependence. In this paper, I reconstruct andevaluate their argumentation. I am in sympathyboth with their view and with the lines ofargument they employ in its defense. UnlikeSearle and McGinn, however, I am quite attachedto a naturalist approach to intentionality. Itwill turn out to be somewhat difficult toreconcile naturalism with the notion thatintentionality is dependent upon consciousness,although, perhaps surprisingly, I will arguethat McGinn's case for such dependence iscompatible with naturalism
Abstract: Objections to Searle's argument for the Connection Principle and its consequences (Searle 1990a) fall roughly into three categories: (1) those that focus on problems with the _argument_ for the Connection Principle; (2) those that focus on problems in understanding the _conclusion_ of this argument; (3) those that focus on whether the conclusion has the _consequences_ Searle claims for it. I think the Connection Principle is both true and important, but I do not think that Searle's argument establishes it. The problem with the argument is that it either begs the question or proves too much
Abstract: _The Significance of Consciousness_ . Princeton: Princeton University Press. $42.50 hbk. x + 374pp. ISBN: 0691027242. ABSTRACT: I discuss three issues about the relation of phenomenal consciousness, in the sense Siewert isolates, to
Abstract: Representationalism is the position that the phenomenal character of an experience is either identical with, or supervenes on, the content of that experience. Many representationalists hold that the relevant content of experience is nonconceptual. I propose a counter-example to this form of representationalism that arises from the phenomenon of Gestalt switching, which occurs when viewing ambiguous figures. First, I argue that one does not need to appeal to the conceptual content of experience or to judge- ments to account for Gestalt switching. I then argue that experiences of certain ambiguous figures are problematic because they have different phenomenal characters but that no difference in the nonconceptual content of these experiences can be identified. I consider three solutions to this problem that have been proposed by both philosophers and psychologists and conclude that none can account for all the ambiguous figures that pose the problem. I conclude that the onus is on representationalists to specify the relevant difference in content or to abandon their position
Abstract: In this paper I examine whether representationalism can account for various thought experiments about colour inversions. Representationalism is, at minimum, the view that, necessarily, if two experiences have the same representational content then they have the same phenomenal character. I argue that representationalism ought to be rejected if one holds externalist views about experiential content and one holds traditional exter- nalist views about the nature of the content of propositional attitudes. Thus, colour inver- sion scenarios are more damaging to externalist representationalist views than have been previously thought. More specifically, I argue that representationalists who endorse externalism about experiential content either have to become internalists about the content of propositional attitudes or they have to adopt a novel variety of externalism about the content of propositional attitudes. This novel type of propositional attitude externalism is investigated. It can be seen that adopting it forces one to reject Putnam
Abstract: I propose a counterexample to naturalistic representational theories of phenomenal character. The counterexample is generated by experiences of novel colours reported by Crane and Piantanida. I consider various replies that a representationalist might make, including whether novel colours could be possible colours of objects and whether one can account for novel colours as one would account for binary colours or colour mixtures. I argue that none of these strategies is successful and therefore that one cannot fully explain the nature of the phenomenal character of perceptual experiences using a naturalistic conception of representation
Abstract: My thesis is: Consciousness is a being such that in its being the being of other being is known. To be conscious is to be in a state of knowingness. The essence of consciousness is knowledge.
Abstract: Siewert identifies a special kind of conscious experience, phenomenal consciousness, that is the sort of consciousness missing in a variety of cases of blindsight. He then argues that phenomenal consciousness has been neglected by students of consciousness when it should not be. According to Siewert, the neglect is based at least in part on two false assumptions: (i) phenomenal features are not intentional and (ii) phenomenal character is restricted to sensory experience. By identifying an essential tension in Siewert's characterization of phenomenal consciousness, I argue that his case for denying (i) and (ii) is at best incomplete
Abstract: The principal temptation toward substance dualisms, or otherwise incorporating a question begging homunculus into our psychologies, arises not from the problem of consciousness in general, nor from the problem of intentionality, but from the question of our awareness and understanding of our own mental contents, and the control of the deliberate, conscious thinking in which we employ them. Dennett has called this "Hume's problem". Cognitivist philosophers have generally either denied the experiential reality of thought, as did the Behaviorists, or have taken an implicitly epiphenomenalist stance, a form of dualism. Some sort of mental duality may indeed be required to meet this problem, but not one that is metaphysical or question begging. I argue that it can be solved in the light of Paivio's "Dual Coding" theory of mental representation. This theory, which is strikingly simple and intuitive (perhaps too much so to have caught the imagination of philosophers) has demonstrated impressive empirical power and scope. It posits two distinct systems of potentially conscious representations in the human mind: mental imagery and verbal representation (which is not to be confused with 'propositional' or "mentalese" representation). I defend, on conceptual grounds, Paivio's assertion of precisely two codes against interpretations which would either multiply image codes to match sense modes, or collapse the two, admittedly interacting, systems into one. On this basis I argue that the inference that a conscious agent would be needed to read such mental representations and to manipulate them in the light of their contents can be pre-empted by an account of how the two systems interact, each registering, affecting and being affected by developing associative processes within the other
Abstract: One-level accounts of consciousness have become increasingly popular (Dretske 1995, Tye 1995, Siewert 1998, Thomasson 2000 and 2005, Lurz 2006, McGinn, this volume). By a ‘onelevel’ account I mean an account according to which consciousness is fundamentally a matter of awareness of a world —and does not require awareness of our own minds, mental states, or the phenomenal character of these. As Fred Dretske puts it “Experiences and beliefs are conscious, not because you are conscious of them, but because, so to speak, you are conscious with them”
Abstract: In _The Significance of Consciousness_ , Charles Siewert proposes a novel understanding of consciousness by arguing against higher-order views of consciousness and rejecting the traditional taxonomy of the mental into qualitative and intentional aspects. I discuss two puzzles that arise from these changes: first, how to account for first-person knowledge of our conscious states while denying that these are typically accompanied by higher-order states directed towards them; second, how to understand his claim that phenomenal features are intentional features without either risking consciousness neglect or retreating to a more traditional understanding of the relation between qualitative and intentional character