-----Original Message-----
Subject: Killing the Observer- Phenomenal Consciousness

New essay at the Center for Naturalism (CFN) on phenomenal consciousness:

Killing the Observer

[Note: A shortened version of this paper appears in the Journal of Consciousness Studies, May/June, 2005.  That version omits most of sections 3 and 11 of the one below, but is otherwise substantially the same.]

 Abstract.  Phenomenal consciousness is often thought to involve a first-person perspective or point of view which makes available to the subject categorically private, first-person facts about experience, facts that are irreducible to third-person physical, functional, or representational facts.  This paper seeks to show that on a representational account of consciousness, we dont have an observational perspective on experience that gives access to such facts, although our representational limitations and the phenomenal structure of consciousness make it strongly seem that we do.  Qualia seem intrinsic and functionally arbitrary, and thus categorically private, because they are first-order sensory representations that are not themselves directly represented.  Further, the representational architecture that on this account instantiates conscious subjectivity helps to generate the intuition of observerhood, since the phenomenal subject may be construed as outside, not within, experience.  Once the seemings of private phenomenal facts and the observing subject are discounted, we can understand consciousness as a certain variety of neurally instantiated, behavior controlling intentional content, that constituted by an integrated representation of the organism in the world.  Neuroscientific research suggests that consciousness and its characteristic behavioral capacities are supported by widely distributed but highly integrated neural processes involving communication between multiple functional sub-systems in the brain.  This global workspace may be the brains physical realization of the representational architecture that constitutes conscious subjectivity.   

Read the article here:

Reply via email to