FW: Killing the Observer- Phenomenal Consciousness

From: Brent Meeker <meekerdb.domain.name.hidden>
Date: Wed, 8 Jun 2005 10:32:59 -0000


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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:

Received on Wed Jun 08 2005 - 14:41:40 PDT

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