I have just finished reading Understanding Consciousness by Max Velmans
and below there are a couple of comments to the book.
The book is similar to Jeffrey Gray's Consciousness: Creeping up on the
Hard Problem in a sense that it takes phenomenal consciousness
seriously. Let me give an example. Imagine that you watch yourself in
the mirror. Your image that you observe in the mirror is an example of
The difference with Jeffrey Gray is in the question where the image that
you see in the mirror is located. If we take a conventional way of
thinking, that is,
1) photons are reflected by the mirror
2) neurons in retina are excited
3) natural neural nets starts information processing
then the answer should be that this image is in your brain. It seems to
be logical as, after all, we know that there is nothing after the mirror.
However, it immediately follows that not only your image in the mirror
is in your brain but rather everything that your see is also in your
brain. This is exactly what one finds in Gray's book "The world is
inside the head".
Velmans takes a different position that he calls reflexive model of
perception. According to him, what we consciously experience is located
exactly where we experience it. In other words, the image that you see
in the mirror is located after the mirror and not in your brain. A nice
picture that explains Velmans' idea is at
Velmans introduces perceptual projection but this remains as the Hard
Problem in his book, how exactly perceptual projection happens.
Velmans contrast his model with reductionism (physicalism) and dualism
and interestingly enough he finds many common features between
reductionism and dualism. For example, the image in the mirror will be
in the brain according to both reductionism and dualism. This part could
be interesting for Stephen.
First I thought that perceptual projection could be interpreted similar
to Craig's senses but it is not the case. Velmans' reflexive monism is
based on a statement that first- and third-person views cannot be
combined (this is what Bruno says). From a third-person view, one
observes neural correlates of consciousness but not the first-person
view. Now I understand such a position much better.
Anyway the the last chapter in the book is "Self-consciousness in a
You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups
"Everything List" group.
To post to this group, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to
For more options, visit this group at