Journal of Consciousness Studies

Published by Imprint Academic
Consciousness, or its lack, is often invoked in debates in applied and normative ethics. Conscious beings are typically held to be significantly more morally valuable than non-consious, so that establishing whether a being is conscious becomes of critical importance. In this paper, I argue that the supposition that phenomenal consciousness explains the value of our experiences or our lives, and the moral value of beings who are conscious, is less well-grounded than is commonly thought. A great deal of what matters to us and about us can be explained by functional and representational properties that may not be sufficient for phenomenal consciousness. I conclude with some reflections on how these claims might affect debates in ethics.
How is mind related to matter? This ancient question inphilosophy is rapidly becoming a core problem in science, perhaps themost important of all because it probes the essential nature of manhimself. The origin of the problem is a conflict between the mechanicalconception of human beings that arises from the precepts of classicalphysical theory and the very different idea that arises from ourintuition: the former reduces each of us to an automaton, while thelatter allows our thoughts to guide our actions. The dominantcontemporary approaches to the problem attempt to resolve this conflictby clinging to the classical concepts, and trying to explain away ourmisleading intuition. But a detailed argument given here shows why, in ascientific approach to this problem, it is necessary to use the morebasic principles of quantum physics, which bring the observer into thedynamics, rather than to accept classical precepts that are profoundlyincorrect precisely at the crucial point of the role of humanconsciousness in the dynamics of human brains. Adherence to the quantumprinciples yields a dynamical theory of the mind/brain/body system thatis in close accord with our intuitive idea of what we are. In particular,the need for a self-observing quantum system to pose certain questionscreates a causal opening that allowsmind/brain dynamics to have threedistinguishable but interlocked causal processes, one micro-local, onestochastic, and the third experiential. Passing to the classical limit inwhich the critical difference between zero and the finite actual value ofPlanck's constant is ignored not only eliminates the chemical processesthat are absolutely crucial to the functioning of actual brains, itsimultaneously blinds the resulting theoretical construct to the physicalfine structure wherein the effect of mind on matter lies: the use of thislimit in this context is totally unjustified from a physicsperspective.
Intentional hierarchy.  
Self-assembly of magnetic surface swimmer's chain structures. (a) Alignment of nickel spheres' magnetic moments along a static external magnetic field. (b) Rotation of spheres' magnetic moment induced by a periodic external magnetic field. (c) Pumping of surrounding water caused by rotating spheres. (d) Alignment of spheres' magnetic moments to form a dipole chain.  
By means of an intriguing physical example, magnetic surface swimmers, that can be described in terms of Dennett's intentional stance, I reconstruct a hierarchy of necessary and sufficient conditions for the applicability of the intentional strategy. It turns out that the different levels of the intentional hierarchy are contextually emergent from their respective subjacent levels by imposing stability constraints upon them. At the lowest level of the hierarchy, phenomenal physical laws emerge for the coarse-grained description of open, nonlinear, and dissipative non-equilibrium systems in critical states. One level higher, dynamic patterns, such as, for example, magnetic surface swimmers, are contextually emergent as they are invariant under certain symmetry operations. Again one level up, these patterns behave apparently rationally by selecting optimal pathways for the dissipation of energy that is delivered by external gradients. This is in accordance with the restated Second Law of thermodynamics as a stability criterion. At the highest level, true believers are intentional systems that are stable under exchanging their observation conditions.
The technological singularity refers to a hypothetical scenario in which technological advances virtually explode. The most popular scenario is the creation of super-intelligent algorithms that recursively create ever higher intelligences. It took many decades for these ideas to spread from science fiction to popular science magazines and finally to attract the attention of serious philosophers. David Chalmers' (JCS 2010) article is the first comprehensive philosophical analysis of the singularity in a respected philosophy journal. The motivation of my article is to augment Chalmers' and to discuss some issues not addressed by him, in particular what it could mean for intelligence to explode. In this course, I will (have to) provide a more careful treatment of what intelligence actually is, separate speed from intelligence explosion, compare what super-intelligent participants and classical human observers might experience and do, discuss immediate implications for the diversity and value of life, consider possible bounds on intelligence, and contemplate intelligences right at the singularity.
Quantum theory is applicable, in principle, to both the microscopic and macroscopic realms. It is therefore worthwhile to investigate whether it is possible to evolve a quantum-compatible view of the properties and states of macroscopic objects in everyday thinking. It will allow a realistic interpretation of quantum theory in a manner directly consistent with the observations. The construction of such a view will provide a solution to what I term the observation problem. Toward solving the observation problem, I identify a category of new objective properties called 'relational properties' that are (so to speak) in-between primary and secondary properties. We regularly associate such properties with everyday objects, and I discuss how in fact these are quantum-compatible. If this relational-property viewpoint could be worked into quantum theory, it would altogether avoid the measurement problem, which is an artifact of our current inconsistent (albeit pragmatically successful) strategy of retaining a classical view of the macroscopic world while applying quantum theory to the microscopic world. Some implications of the relational property viewpoint to neurobiological issues underlying cognition are touched upon.
Introduction Freeman: The article `The Science of Art' by William Hirstein and yourself (Ramachandran and Hirstein, 1999) has proved one of the most stimulating ever published in JCS. Criticisms of it abound, so to focus your response I will put to you questions that summarize the chief points made by our formal commentators [see Journal of Consciousness Studies, 6 (6--7), 1999, and 7 (8--9), 2000] and also pick up other questions that are frequently asked about it. But first I should like to know what motivated you to write the paper --- and did you anticipate the reaction it would provoke? Ramachandran: We mainly did it for fun. Also we hoped the essay would serve to generate a useful dialogue between artists, neuroscientists, perceptual psychologists and art historians --- to bridge C.P. Snow's two cultures. The article was intended to be whimsical, provocative and slightly tongue-in-ch
Müller-Lyre illusion
Kanisza's triangle
onic co-consciousness is necessarily transitive: if e1 and e2 are Journal of Consciousness Studies, 8, No. 3, 2001, pp. 79--92 Correspondence: Tim Bayne, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch, New Zealand, Email: [1] Barry Dainton, Stream of Consciousness (Routledge: London and New York, 2000), xvi + 254pp., ISBN 0-415-22382-2 (hbk) [2] Most psychologists (and some philosophers) use `co-consciousness' to refer to the relation that two streams of consciousness have when they are co-instantiated in a single animal; this is a very different relation. co-conscious, and e2 and e3 are co-conscious, then e1 and e3 must also be co-conscious.) Dainton's third project involves an examination of the ways in which experiences might be holistically related to each other. Dainton's discussion here is rigo
kespearean meditation on the human condition, when she recalls the first time she dissected a human brain. But unlike the Prince of Denmark, who only had an empty skull to Journal of Consciousness Studies, 7, No. 10, 2000, pp. 75--82 Correspondence: Imprint Academic, PO Box 1, Thorverton EX5 5YX, UK [1] Review of Susan Greenfield, Brain Story (London: BBC Worldwide, 2000, 208 pp. 17.99, ISBN 0-563-5510-8. An abridged version of this review was first published in the Times Higher Education Supplement. contend with, Greenfield was intrigued whether a tiny sliver of cortex scraped under her fingernail (if she had not been wearing gloves) might contain a particular memory, fear or dream. The interweaving of such anecdotes with popular scientific material shows that this book is intended for a wide audience. Brain Story is delightfully written, lavishly illustrated, ca
The schematic shows the dorsal view of the right cerebral hemisphere of the salamander (adapted from Herrick 1948). The unbroken sheet of superficial neuropil sustains bidirectional interactions between all of its parts, which are demarcated by their axonal connections with sensory receptors (olfactory bulb and 'Transitional zone' for all other senses, descending connections to the corpus striatum, amygdaloid and septum from the pyriform area, and the intrinsic connections between these areas and the primordial hippocampus posteromedially. This primitive forebrain suffices as an organ of intentionality, comprising the limbic system with little else besides. 
To explain how stimuli cause consciousness, we have to explain causality. We can't trace linear causal chains from receptors after the first cortical synapse, so we use circular causality to explain neural pattern formation by self-organizing dynamics. But an aspect of intentional action is causality, which we extrapolate to material objects in the world. Thus causality is a property of mind, not matter. Summary 1 According to behavioral theories deriving from pragmatism, Gestalt psychology, existentialism, and ecopsychology, knowledge about the world is gained by intentional action followed by learning. In terms of the neurodynamics described here, if the intending of an act comes to awareness through reafference, it is perceived as a cause. If the consequences of an act come to awareness through proprioception and exteroception, they are perceived as an effect. A sequence of such states of awareness comprises consciousness, which can grow in complexity to include self-awareness. Intentional acts do not require awareness, whereas voluntary acts require selfawareness. Awareness of the action/perception cycle provides the cognitive metaphor of linear causality as an agency. Humans apply this metaphor to objects and events in the world to predict and control them, and to assign social responsibility. Thus linear causality is the bedrock of social contracts and technology.
this paper, I first isolate the truly hard part of the problem, separating it from more tractable parts and giving an account of why it is so difficult to explain. I critique some recent work that uses reductive methods to address consciousness, and argue that such methods inevitably fail to come to grips with the hardest part of the problem. Once this failure is recognized, the door to further progress is opened. In the second half of the paper, I argue that if we move to a new kind of nonreductive explanation, a naturalistic account of consciousness can be given. I put forward my own candidate for such an account: a nonreductive theory based on principles of structural coherence and organizational invariance, and a double-aspect theory of information.
The `hard problem' is hard because of the special epistemological status of consciousness, which does not, however, preclude its scientific investigation. Data from phenomenologically trained observers can be combined with neurological investigations to establish the relation between experience and neurodynamics. Although experience cannot be reduced to physical phenomena, parallel phenomenological and neurological analyses allow the structure of experience to be related to the structure of the brain. Such an analysis suggests a theoretical entity, an elementary unit of experience, the protophenomenon, which corresponds to an activity site (such as a synapse) in the brain. The structure of experience is determined by connections (e.g. dendrites) between these activity sites; the connections correspond to temporal patterns among the elementary units of experience, which can be expressed mathematically. This theoretical framework illuminates several issues, including degrees of conscious...
Because consciousness plays such a central role in the creation of human experience, and because the field of consciousness studies is growing more mature by the year, it only makes sense that we should learn what we can about the functioning of consciousness from the myriad disciplines that have deigned to place it under their scopes. It is time for religious studies to draw upon neuropsychology, cognitive neuroscience, artificial intelligence, artificial life, psychology, and other disciplines. It is time for religious studies to explore how consciousness functions and how it may play a role in the constitution of reality, in spiritual experience, in the generation of doctrine, and in ritual and meditative life.
Comments on an article by B. J. Baars (see record 2003-04969-001) which used social constructivist interpretation of ideological movements within the discipline. The author discusses Baars' thesis that psychologists and philosophers rejected consciousness in order to justify their claim to standing among the physical sciences. To achieve scientific respectability, behaviorists rejected (1) a nonmaterial ontology for consciousness and (2) free will in the sense of volitional action by the person that lies outside a deterministic order. On failure to distinguish these metaphysical statements from metatheoretical statements, they rejected theories of interrelations among conscious states, and theories of causal control by conscious intentions--theories which in themselves entail neither a nonmaterial consciousness nor free will in the sense of indeterminism. On these confusions, protective strategies developed: (1) redefinitions of psychological vocabulary such that it would refer to other than conscious states, (2) treatment of consciousness with focus upon grand claims for the action of unconscious processes, and (4) relaxation of methodological constraints to accommodate deeply held ideological and metatheoretical commitments. These strategies endure in cognitive science. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
This volume centers on discussion of introspection, consciousness states, and phenomenology. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
This article arises from the remarkably multi-faceted book Brain and Being edited by Gordon Globus and others, hereafter referred to as B&B. It raises questions (though not unusually, few answers) about several related areas: the way in which quantum theory might endow the physical matter of the brain with surprising, though still essentially classical, properties; the possibility that quantum field theory might shed a wholly new light on aspects of consciousness, in both the subjective and neurological approaches; and, at the most speculative, the suggestion that the nature of being, as disclosed subjectively, can be understood in the light of one or other of the interpretations of quantum theory. I will consider these in turn
Commentary on ‘The View from Within’, edited by Francisco Varela and Jonathan Shear
Galen Strawson's keynote paper (1997) offers us one way of modelling the self, one that starts from the phenomenology of the sense of self and derives from that metaphysical conclusions about the nature of the self. Strawson is surely correct to hold that phenomenological considerations cannot be ignored in thinking about the metaphysics of the self. I am not as convinced as he is, however, that phenomenology is the royal road to metaphysics. What I want to sketch out in this short paper is another approach to the metaphysics of the self, one that is driven by reductivist concerns. As far as I can see it is an open question whether there are any global points of disagreement between us (although there are certainly some local ones).
I have taken an experimental approach to this question. Freely voluntary acts are preceded by a specific electrical change in the brain (the ‘readiness potential', RP) that begins 550 ms before the act. Human subjects became aware of intention to act 350-400 ms after RP starts, but 200 ms. before the motor act. The volitional process is therefore initiated unconsciously. But the conscious function could still control the outcome; it can veto the act. Free will is therefore not excluded. These findings put constraints on views of how free will may operate; it would not initiate a voluntary act but it could control performance of the act. The findings also affect views of guilt and responsibility. But the deeper question still remains: Are freely voluntary acts subject to macro-deterministic laws or can they appear without such constraints, non-determined by natural laws and ‘truly free'? I shall present an experimentalist view about these fundamental philosophical opposites.
The International Union of Psychological Science ('Union') co-hosted, with the Chinese Psychological Society its 28th International Congress of Psychology ('Congress'). The first Congress was held with the World's Fair in Paris in 1889. In recent decades, they have been held every four years in different parts of the world. The Union has member organizations from 67 nations, representing one half million psychologists. Pretty scary stuff!
Every two years René Stettler, director of the Neue Galerie of Lucerne, organizes a symposium at the Lucerne Theatre for scientists, philosophers, and artists to present and discuss their approaches on a special topic of interest to the general public. These events give space and time to interdisciplinary discussion, and the New Gallery sees itself as inducing series of experiments, creating as it were a series of 'laboratory situations', with varying mixtures of ideas and theories, for a public of between four and five hundred people. This year's laboratory was labelled 'Space, Time and Beyond' and led deep into the realms of the Beyond.
This article provides a critical review of recent work at the intersection of phenomenology and cognitive science. What is and what ought to be the relationship between these two approaches to the study of consciousness? This review explores problems involved with expressing subjective experience in an objective fashion, and issues involved in the use of principles of isomorphism to explain how brain and consciousness are interrelated. It suggests that strict lines cannot be drawn between third-person theory and phenomenological description, that the division of labour between phenomenology and cognitive science is not very strict, and that the best model for understanding the relation between these two approaches is one that emphasizes an externalist viewpoint.
This paper suggests that certain traditional ways of analysing the self start off in situations that are abstract or detached from normal experience, and that the conclusions reached in such approaches are, as a result, inexact or mistaken. The paper raises the question of whether there are more contextualized forms of self-consciousness than those usually appealed to in philosophical or psychological analyses, and whether they can be the basis for a more adequate theoretical approach to the self. First, we develop a distinction between abstract and contextualized actions and intentions by drawing on evidence from studies of rehabilitation after brain damage, and we introduce the notion of intentional attitude. Second, we discuss several interesting conclusions drawn from theoretically and experimentally abstract approaches. These conclusions raise some important issues about both the nature of the self and reflexive consciousness. At the same time they indicate the serious limitations concerning what we can claim about self and self-consciousness within such abstract frameworks. Such limitations motivate the question of whether it is possible to capture a sense of self that is more embedded in contextualized actions. Specifically, our concern is to focus on first-person approaches. We identify two forms of self-consciousness, ecological self-awareness and embedded reflection, that (1) function within the kinds of contextualized activity we have indicated, and (2) can be the basis for a theoretical account of the self. Both forms of self-consciousness are closely tied to action and promise to provide a less abstract basis for developing a theoretical approach to the self.
The Mount Sinai School of Medicine is an imposing monument to the wealth and power of scientific medicine. Set on its own block in upper Manhattan, its rhetorical centre is the Stern Auditorium. Here, just over a year after 9/11, a group of gurus and self-seekers assembled to confer on the nature of the self. I was there too, looking for help in constructing a grand unified theory of soul and brain.
I have long concluded that psychologists seek 'facts' but don't care about 'truth'; while philosophers seek 'truth' but don't care about 'facts'. After attending Tucson-2002, I would create a third reckless stereotype: eastern philosophy (and perhaps western humanities) seek 'enlightenment' but don't care about 'facts' or 'truth'. To avoid this seeming to be the equal-opportunity put-down that it really is, let me amend that to: scientists seek inductive 'facts' about consciousness, western philosophers seek deductive 'truth' about consciousness, and eastern philosophers seek transcendent 'enlightenment' - to grow, transcend, or lose my/our own consciousness. To make it even more complicated, there are - obliquely bridging the facts, truth, and enlightenment camps - brain-probing anaesthesiologists and others advocating an intriguing package of quantum mechanics, microtubules, pan-psychism and causation-running-backwards-in- time. H-E-L-P! With the echoes of the conference still in my mental ears, I dedicate this report to Mountcastle, Maharishi, and Monty Python.
It would seem reasonable to expect any comprehensive account of consciousness to accommodate two of its most fundamental attributes: that we have a self- centred sense of experience and that this sense is somehow linked to the condition of our physiology. Yet those conversant with post-Cartesian philosophy will know that time and again significant doubts have been raised about any apparently obvious link between mind and body. So of all the questions implicated in the scientific study of consciousness perhaps the most pressing is to what extent, if at all, does our mental life correlate with biochemical activity at the neuronal level? Until this is resolved we will be unable to reconcile the data gathered from phenomenological analysis of introspective experience with that derived from neuroscientific analysis of brain behaviour. The infamous gap will persist.
The concepts of imagination and consciousness have, very arguably, been inextricably intertwined at least since Aristotle initiated the systematic study of human cognition (Thomas, 1998). To imagine something is ipso facto to be conscious of it (even if the wellsprings of imaginative creativity are in the unconscious), and many have held that our conscious thinking consists largely or entirely in a succession of mental images, the products of imagination (see, e.g., Damasio, 1994 — or, come to that, see Aristotle, or Hume, or almost any pre-twentieth century cognitive theorist). A venerable tradition also regards perceptual experiences, the main focus of most recent work on consciousness, as products of the imagination, whose primary function is to integrate sensory inputs and render them meaningful (Thomas, 1998; 1999). As Coleridge (1817) famously put it, primary imagination is 'the living power and prime agent of all human perception'. A better understanding of imagination is likely to deepen our insight into the nature of consciousness (and, probably, vice-versa).
Having agreed to review Tucson 2004, I am embarrassed to admit that I fell asleep eight times during the conference. This cannot have been entirely due to jet lag as I only fell asleep once in 1998, twice in 2000, and four times in 2002. It seems to be a geometric progression correlating with elapsed time. As this was the tenth anniversary conference several speakers indulged in nostalgic reminiscences, but I thought that readers of JCS might prefer a less rose-tinted account which, among other things, might elucidate the dynamics of falling asleep at conferences.
Every two years Rene Stettler, owner and director of the Neue Galerie in Luzerne, organizes and hosts the Swiss Biennial on Science, Technics + Aesthetics, an international gathering of scientists, philosophers, and artists for the purpose of discussing their views on a topic of general interest. Stettler has done this since 1995, with each conference centred on a thought-provoking topic. The topic of this year's conference focused on consciousness and teleportation. The conference publicity material posited some interesting discussion points: Are there connections between brain functions, mental phenomena, and quantum physics? What does quantum entanglement tell us about ourselves? What role does consciousness play in the universe (or the universe in consciousness)? Will it ever be possible to teleport human bodies over distance?
As the emphasis in the title of his article indicates, Garry Young (2006) wishes to retain a role for conscious intention in the initiation of intentional acts, a proposal he contrasts with the findings and writings of Benjamin Libet, and also my own comments upon the latter (Libet et al., 1983; Spence, 1996). While Libet's classic series of experiments (and their replication by others) established that the conscious intention to act is itself preceded by predictive trains of electrical activity in the brain, Young wishes to attribute a meaningful role to intention even though it arises relatively 'late' in the stream of causation. He believes intention makes a contribution. The question here, or at least the source of perceived disagreement, seems to be: what is the nature of this contribution? Also, are we talking about a single act or the context within which it (action) occurs?
This was my first 'Tucson-overseas' conference, and I will begin by briefly comparing this series with the (to me) more familiar ASSC and Tucson conferences -- several of which I have reviewed for JCS.
Starting from the special theory of relativity it is argued that the structure of an experience is extended over time, making experience dynamic rather than static. The paper describes and explains what is meant by phenomenal parts and outlines opposing positions on the experience of time. Time according to he special theory of relativity is defined and the possibility of static experience shown to be implausible, leading to the conclusion that experience is dynamic. Some implications of this for the relationship of phenomenology to the physical world are considered.
The nature of perceptual and memory processes is examined in the light of suggested complementarity between introspective and empirical traditions. The introspective material analysed here is that found in the Buddhist Abhidhamma literature of the Pali canon on the stages of perception. Possible psychological and neurophysiological correspondences to these stages are proposed. The model of perception advanced here emphasizes two phases. The first involves sensory analysis and related memory readout. I postulate that this phase is completed when coherence in oscillatory neuronal patterns indicates a ‘match’ between sensory input and memory readout. The second phase results in consciousness of the object, which comes about when a connection is effected between the representation of the input as generated in phase one and a representation of self (or ‘I’). ‘I’ is itself generated in this second phase in relation to the memory readout of phase one, since this readout includes relevant prior formations of ‘I’. It is suggested that ‘I’ functions in the organization of memory and recall.
Much of the current imaging literature either denies the existence of wakeful non-mental imagers, views non-imagers motivationally as 'repressors' or 'neurotic', or acknowledges them but does not fully incorporate them into their models. Neurobiologists testing for imaging loss seem to assume that visual recognition, describing objects, and free-hand drawing require the forming of conscious images. The intuition that 'the psyche never thinks without an image.... the reasoning mind thinks its ideas in the form of images' (Aristotle) has a long tradition in philosophical psychology, from Aristotle through the British empiricists to the British-empiricist-inspired introspection paradigm of Titchener. The massive shift in early experimental psychology to the introspective-antagonistic paradigm of Watson's behaviourism, may have sprung from the contrary intuition that no one thinks in mental images. In both cases, people seemed to assume that what is in one's own mind is in everybody's mind. A third, mediating, intuition - that some people do not think with conscious mental imagery -- seems to be confirmed by empirical studies on many levels. From the early imagery interviews of Francis Galton through many modern surveys, including my own, a consistent diversity of self-reports on ones own mental imagery abilities suggests that some 2-5% of people are very poor- or non-visual- imagers who, yet, maintain normal visual recognition abilities. Comparable estimates have been made in auditory and other imagery modalities.
It seems that we could be physically the same as we are now, only we would lack conscious awareness. If so, then nothing about our physical world is necessary for qualitative experience. However, a proper analysis of psychological functionalism eliminates this problem concerning the possibility of zombies. ‘Friends of absent qualia’ rely on an overly simple view of what counts as a functional analysis and of the function/structure distinction. The level of thought is not the only level at which one might perform a functional analysis; all that is required for some description of a state to be functional is that it be defined in terms of its causal relations. Insofar as functionalism is not restricted to a higher level of analysis (hence, any causal interaction could conceivably be found in a functional description), then successful theories of consciousness should include whatever it is that makes those states have a qualitative character.
Participants recruited for high levels of imaginative absorption were administered a questionnaire based on Calkins' (1892, 1895) original study that first established a wide continuum of childhood synaesthesias and synaesthetic associations, along with separate questionnaires assessing childhood imaginary companions, positive altered states of consciousness (lucid and archetypal forms of dreaming, mystical experiences) and negative states of nightmares and night terrors. Their inter-relation and relation to measures of adult imaginative absorption helps to establish these states as aspects of an underlying imagistic dimension, while their relative differentiation is explored through different forms of adult absorption, early stressors from childhood, and degree of parental support for creative activities. The connection of this wider continuum of adult recalled childhood synasesthesias, imaginary companions, and altered states of consciousness to adult imaginative absorption is consistent with recent neuro-imaging synaesthetic research supporting its relation to symbolic cognition, metaphor, and creativity.
I examine the prospects of using Hurlburt's DES method to justify his very 'thin'view of experience, on which visual experience is so infrequent as to be typically absent when reading and speaking. Such justification would seem to be based on the claim that, in DES 'beeper' samples, subjects often deny they just had any visual experi-ence. But if the question of 'visual experience' is properly construed, then (judging by the example of Melanie) it is doubtful they are deny-ing this. And even if they were, that would not generally warrant over-turning belief in the abundance of one's own visual experience. I defend use of non-DES introspective judgments in reaching this conclusion. These are no more dubious overall than the near-term ret-rospective judgments in response to open-ended prompts employed in DES. Moreover, DES itself needs to presuppose subjects enjoy an introspective competence not confined to their beeper reports. The true power of DES to revise introspection thus lies in its interview por-tion. This view is further supported by considering Hurlburt's and Schwitzgebel's discussion of detail in visual imagery. Introspectively based conceptions of experience should be improved and corrected, not by means of a supposedly privileged class of reports, but by questioning that clarifies distinctions and makes explicit the implications of what one says in making introspective judgments. My advocacy of this sort of 'Socratic introspection' leads me to broad agreement with many of Schwitzgebel's conclusions. But it also makes me regard myself as a 'proponent' of -- not a 'sceptic' about -- the use of introspection to study experience.
[opening paragraph]: A colleague of mine at Southern Methodist University recently shared a story with me. Several years ago my colleague was hired as the chairman of a new department of religious studies at a major research university. It was his job to interview candidates to fill several positions in the department. The Dean was adamant that, in order to ensure scholarly objectivity, anyone hired to teach religious studies should not have deeply held religious beliefs; however my colleague went to the Dean in hopes of convincing him otherwise. `You can certainly say whatever you want to', the Dean responded, `but you should know in advance that my mind is already made up.' My colleague did not share with me his whole argument, but he did mention what must have given even that hard-nosed Dean a moment's pause: `It seems that, in this department', my colleague pointedly remarked, `it would be fine to hire an historian who is an expert on Thomas Aquinas; but, according to your rules, we couldn't hire Thomas Aquinas himself.'
We propose a distinction between precategorial, acategorial and categorial states within a scientifically oriented understanding of mental processes. This distinction can be specified by approaches developed in cognitive neuroscience and the analytical philosophy of mind. On the basis of a representational theory of mental processes, acategoriality refers to a form of knowledge that presumes fully developed categorial mental representations, yet refers to non-conceptual experiences in mental states beyond such established categories. It relies on a simultaneous apprehension of individual representations and their actual 'representational ground', an undifferentiated precategorial state. This simultaneity is possible if the mental state does not reside in a representation but in between representations. Acategoriality can be formally modeled as an unstable state of a dynamical mental system that is subject to particular stability criteria.
The objectives of this article are twofold. First, by denying the dualism inherent in attempts to load metaphysical significance on the inner/outer distinction, it defends the view that scientific investigation can approach consciousness in itself, and is not somehow restricted in scope to the outward manifestations of a private and hidden realm. Second, it provisionally endorses the central tenets of global workspace theory, and recommends them as a possible basis for the sort of scientific understanding of consciousness thus legitimised. However, the article goes on to argue that global workspace theory alone does not constitute a fully worked-out objective account of the conscious subject. This requires additional attention to be paid to (at least) the issue of embodiment, and to the possibility of indexicality that arises when an instantiation of the global workspace architecture inhabits a spatially localised body.
We address the thesis recently proposed by Andy Clark, that skill-mediated access to modality implies phenomenal feel. We agree that a skill theory of perception does indeed offer the possibility of a satisfactory account of the feel of perception, but we claim that this is not only through explanation of access to modality but also because skill actually provides access to perceptual property in general. We illustrate and substantiate our claims by reference to the recently proposed 'sensorimotor contingency' theory of visual awareness. We discuss why this theory offers a distinctively attractive access-based approach to perceptual consciousness because it 'dereifies' experience and permits otherwise problematic aspects of phenomenal perceptual consciousness to be explained. We suggest our approach thus offers the prospect of 'naturalizing phenomenology'.
This paper discusses possible correspondences between the dynamical systems characteristics observed in our previously proposed cognitive model and phenomenological accounts of immanent time considered by Edmund Husserl. Our simulation experiments in the anticiparatory learning of a robot showed that encountering sensory-motor flow can be learned as segmented into chunks of reusable primitives with accompanying dynamic shifting between coherences and incoherences in local modules. It is considered that the sense of objective time might appear when the continuous sensory-motor flow input to the robot is reconstructed into compositional memory structures through the articulation processes described.
This paper makes a comparison between naturalist and non-naturalist theories of consciousness with respect to their explanatory merits. It focuses on David Rosenthal's higher-order thought (HOT) theory, arguing that the motives for higher-order theories are based on a confusion of three distinct meanings of the term 'intrinsic'. The explanatory power of HOT theories is compared with that of an alternative nonrepresentational theory, offered as an example of a naturalistic account. The latter is found overall to have more virtues and less shortcomings that the higher-order theory.
We begin by accepting that introspective evidence is important to cognitive science. However, as its history shows, introspection is risky, so methods should be used that minimize those risks. We argue that there are 13 ways that a beeper can reduce those risks, dividing those ways into three categories: time sampling per se, minimizing the reactive disturbance of evanescent phenomena, and aiding phenomenological fidelity. We turn aside six criticisms of beeper-based research, and describe five characteristics of a good beep.
In this paper we propose that the term skill acquisition, as commonly used in traditional psychology, and the philosophy, education, movement science and performance development literatures, has been biased by an organismic asymmetry. In cognitive and experimental psychology, for example, it refers to the establishment of an internal state or representation of an act which is believed to be acquired as a result of learning and task experience. Here we elucidate an ecological perspective which suggests that the term skill acquisition may not refer to an entity but rather to the emergence of an adaptive, functional relationship between an organism and its environment, thus avoiding an inherent organismic asymmetry in theorizing. In this respect, the terms 'skill adaptation' or 'skill attunement' might be more suitable to describe this process.
This article explores the role of social factors in the emergence of self and other. It is suggested that the experience of causing actions contributes to a basic sense of self in which awareness of mental states and the experience of a mental self are grounded. According to the proposed evolutionary scenario, the experience of agency emerged as individuals acting in social context learned to differentiate between effects caused by their own actions and effects resulting from joint action. Through joint action, individuals also developed an understanding of others' actions as goal-directed, paving the way for imitation. The ability to distinguish between action capabilities of self and other and the understanding that action-effect principles apply equally to self and other may have provided important advantages in circumstances where cooperative action and social learning were critical. The current proposal adds to previous evolutionary scenarios in that it identifies social conditions that may have shaped a basic sense of self. This, in turn, could have given rise to theory of mind and the cultural construction of mental selves.
We live in a meaningful world. Our capacity to deal with the ‘external world’ is constituted by the possibility of modifying the world by means of our actions; by the possibility of representing the world as an objective reality; and by the possibility of experiencing phenomenally this same objective reality, from a situated, self-conscious perspective. It is tempting to address these different articulations of the sense of ‘being related to the world', of our intentional relation to the world, by using different languages, different methods of investigations, perhaps even different ontologies. In the present paper I will start to explore the possibility of reconciling some of these different articulations of intentionality from a neurobiological perspective
Introduction to Special Issue on ‘Reclaiming Cognition: The Primacy of Action, Intention and Emotion’. Making sense of the mind is the human odyssey. Today, the cognitive sciences provide the vehicles and equipage. As do all culturally shaped activities, they manifest crystallized generalizations and ideological legacies, many of which go unquestioned for centuries. From time to time, these ideologies are successfully challenged, generating revisions and new forms of understanding. We believe that the cognitive sciences have reached a situation in which they have been frozen into one narrow form by the machine metaphor. There is a need to thaw that form and move from a reductionist, atemporal, disembodied, static, rationalist, emotion- and culture-free view, to fundamentally richer understandings that include the primacy of action, intention, emotion, culture, real-time constraints, real-world opportunities, and the peculiarities of living bodies. These essays constitute an array of moves in that direction.
We seem, or so it seems to some theorists, to experience a rich stream of highly detailed information concerning an extensive part of our current visual surroundings. But this appearance, it has been suggested, is in some way illusory. Our brains do not command richly detailed internal models of the current scene. Our seeings, it seems, are not all that they seem. This, then, is the Grand Illusion. We think we see much more than we actually do. In this paper I shall (briefly) rehearse the empirical evidence for this rather startling claim, and then critically examine a variety of responses. One especially interesting response is a development of the so-called 'skill theory', according to which there is no illusion after all. Instead, so the theory goes, we establish the required visual contact with our world by an ongoing process of active exploration, in which the world acts as a kind of reliable, interrogable, external memory (Noe et al., 2000; Noe, 2001). The most fully worked-out versions of this response (Noe and O'Regan, 2000; O'Regan and Noe, 2001)) tend, however, to tie the contents of conscious visual experience rather too tightly to quite low-level features of this ongoing sensorimotor engagement. This (I shall argue) undervalues the crucial links between perceptual experience, reason and intentional action, and opens the door to a problem that I will call 'sensorimotor chauvinism': the premature welding of experiential contents to very specific details of our embodiment and sensory apparatus. Drawing on the dual visual systems hypothesis of Milner and Goodale (1995), I sketch an alternative version of the skill theory, in which the relation between conscious visual experience and the low-level details of sensori- motor engagement is indirect and non-constitutive. The hope is thus to embrace the genuine insights of the skill theory response, while depicting conscious visual experience as most tightly geared to knowing and reasoning about our world.
The Titchener Illusion  
Marc Jeannerod is director of the Institut des Sciences Cognitives in Lyon. His work in neuropsychology focuses on motor action. The idea that there is an essential relationship between bodily movement, consciousness, and cognition is not a new one, but recent advances in the technologies of brain imaging have provided new and detailed support for understanding this relationship. Experimental studies conducted by Jeannerod and his colleagues at Lyon have explored the details of brain activity, not only as we are actively moving, but as we plan to move, as we imagine moving, and as we observe others move. His work also captures important distinctions between pathological and non-pathological experience. In The Cognitive Neuroscience of Action (1997), Jeannerod focussed on object-oriented actions. What happens in the brain and what do we experience when we reach to grasp an object? How do we plan an action of that sort? To what extent does explicit motor imagery contribute to such action? What role does a motor representation or motor schema play in the accomplishment of action? At the very end of that book he raises questions that seem quite different. How is it possible to understand the intentions of others? Precisely what mechanisms allow us to imitate other people's actions? In more recent years much of Jeannerod's work has been in pursuit of these questions about interaction with others, and he has helped to show that there are intimate connections between moving ourselves and understanding others.Jeannerod's work does not lack important implications for a philosophical understanding of human activity. Although in contemporary philosophical debates on consciousness one can still find arguments that simply ignore bodily movement as an important factor in cognition, several recent works have returned to serious consideration of movement and action (e.g., Hurley, 1999; Sheets-Johnstone, 2000). In the following interview Jeannerod discusses many issues relevant to the philosophy of mind and action, including concepts of intentionality, movement and consciousness of movement, the role of simulation in understanding others, and the best way to conceptualize brain processes in all of these regards. Importantly, he makes constant reference to the empirical evidence, much of it developed in his own experimental studies.
A given but otherwise random environmental time series impinging on the input of a certain biological processor passes through with overwhelming probability practically undetected. A very small percentage of environmental stimuli, though, is ‘captured’ by the processor's nonlinear dissipative operator as initial conditions, and is ‘processed’ as solutions of its dynamics. The processor, then, is in such cases instrumental in compressing or abstracting those stimuli, thereby making the external world to collapse from a previous regime of a ‘pure state’ of suspended animation into a set of stable complementary and mutually exclusive eigenfunctions or ‘categories'. The characteristics of this cognitive set depend on the operator involved and the hierarchical level where the abstraction takes place. Depending on the context, the transition from one state to another occurs in such a cognitive operator. The chaotic itinerancy may play a crucial role for this process. In this paper we model the dynamics which may underlie such a cognitive process and the role of the thalamo-cortical pacemaker of the (human) brain. In order to model them, conceptualization by the notion of ‘attractor ruin’ in high-dimensional dynamical systems is necessary.
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