No Cover Image

Philosophy, Neuroscience, and Consciousness

REX WELSHON
Copyright Date: 2011
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt130hb41
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Philosophy, Neuroscience, and Consciousness
    Book Description:

    This introduction to these and many of the other problems posed by consciousness discusses the most important work of cognitive science, neurophysiology and philosophy of the past thirty years and presents an up-to-date assessment of the issues and debates. CONTENTS: Preface and acknowledgements Introduction: problems of consciousness 1. Refection on consciousness before the mid-twentieth century 2. Functional neuroanatomy 3. Primate neuropsychology 4. Human evolution 5. Contemporary neuropsychology 6. Neuropsychology of consciousness 7. Philosophy of mind and consciousness 8. Reduction and non-reduction 9. Emergence 10. Prospects for neural theories of consciousness Notes Bibliography Index

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-9464-7
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-5)

    Every generation of scholars is prone to believing that it is the first to finally see things clearly. This is true also for the study of consciousness. However, Sigmund Freud and Gottfried Leibniz identified two of the fundamental problems posed by attempts to reduce consciousness to the goings-on inside the cranium, the first a hundred years ago, the second three hundred years ago. Freud states the first problem in hisOutline to Psychoanalysis:

    We know two kinds of things about what we call our psyche (or mental life): firstly, its bodily organ and scene of action, the brain (or nervous...

  5. PART I: PHILOSOPHY AND CONSCIOUSNESS
    • 1. CONSCIOUSNESS AND CONSCIOUS PROPERTIES
      (pp. 6-30)

      Our topics are consciousness, its properties, what neuroscience has to say about them, and whether what neuroscience has to say about them is enough to warrant reducing conscious properties and events to neural assemblies, their activities and their properties. A psychological state, process, or event is conscious in the full sense of the term whenever it is intentionally structured, qualitatively endowed and subjectively perspectival or, more pedantically, whenever it has the properties of being intentionally structured, qualitatively endowed and subjectively perspectival. As so understood, a conscious event is complex, for it is a set of properties instantiated by a psychological...

    • 2. IDENTITY, SUPERVENIENCE, REDUCTION AND EMERGENCE
      (pp. 31-53)

      Since neither substance dualism nor idealism are viable, the only option left is some kind ofphysicalism, which claims that physical entities or parts thereof exhaust everything that is concrete, where a physical entity is an entity quantified over by physics (Hellman & Thompson 1975). Yet although everythingand everypartof every thing is physical, disagreement whether every physical thing or part need have only physicalpropertiesremains. Those who claim that they must arereductivephysicalists; those who think they need not arenon-reductivephysicalists. For reductive physicalists, conscious properties are reducible to some kind of physical, usually...

    • 3. REDUCTIVE AND NON-REDUCTIVE PHYSICALISMS
      (pp. 54-76)

      Identity, supervenience-based reduction and non-reduction, and emergence are ontological options for conscious properties alive in the contemporary philosophical debates about consciousness. In this chapter, four substantive philosophical arguments for and against these options are entertained and rejected. These four argument types represent some of the most influential efforts by philosophers to fix the limits of debate about conscious properties. They use either considerations about the nature of the language used to talk about conscious properties or considerations about the logic of certain proposed relations between them and the brain’s activity to buttress certain positions. Showing that these arguments are unsound...

    • 4. REPRESENTATIONALIST THEORIES OF CONSCIOUS PROPERTIES
      (pp. 77-99)

      A considerable amount of cross-disciplinary discussion between philosophers and scientists about conscious properties has occurred in the past twenty years. While all the cross-disciplinary discussion has yet to yield much consensus, it has yielded a set of working assumptions, shared by most neuroscientists and philosophers, about their kind (for want of a better word). One of these working assumptions is the representationalist understanding of conscious properties. Neuroscientists look for empirical support for conscious properties representationally understood; philosophers assess whether a representational understanding of conscious properties successfully captures all the features of conscious properties.

      In contemporary philosophy, three versions of representationalism...

  6. PART II: NEUROSCIENCE AND CONSCIOUSNESS
    • 5. CORTICAL EVOLUTION AND MODULARITY
      (pp. 100-123)

      Neuroscience is the scientific study of the brain and nervous system. It is a large field and immediately splits into four subfields.Neuroanatomyis the scientific study of the form and structure of the brain and nervous system.Neurophysiologyis the scientific study of the physical and biochemical processes of the brain and nervous system.Neuropsychologyis the scientific study of the relationships between, on the one hand, the brain and nervous system and, on the other, perceptual, interoceptive, proprioceptive, affective and cognitive processes and functions.Neuropsychiatryis the scientific study of neuropsychological dysfunctions. Given these distinctions, we can put...

    • 6. AROUSAL, PERCEPTION AND AFFECT
      (pp. 124-148)

      The neurophysiology and neuropsychology of cortical assemblies and pathways is complex enough without having to overlay on to them the difficulties introduced by conscious properties – qualitative character, intentionality and subjective perspectivity. And yet this nest of issues is exactly what must be analysed if the properties of neural assemblies and pathways are to be taken seriously as contenders for the substrates for, or realizers of, conscious properties.

      In this chapter, we focus on perceptual and affective conscious events. Both have been intensively studied by neurophysiologists, neuropsychologists and neuropsychiatrists. This work provides neural correlates for each of the perceptual modalities...

    • 7. ATTENTION, WORKING MEMORY, LANGUAGE AND EXECUTIVE FUNCTION
      (pp. 149-171)

      Cognition presents topics of long-standing interest to psychologists and neuropsychologists. Cognition encompasses a huge array of processes, including attention, working memory, and language understanding and production. Some cognitive processes are executive functions. Accounts of executive function vary enormously (Jurado & Rosselli 2007), but its component processes typically include inhibiting behaviour; learning; formulating goals; sequencing actions; integrating information; remembering; generalizing and abstracting; understanding; knowing; analysing; monitoring; introspecting; discriminating; evaluating; creating; deliberating; planning; decision-making; judging; choosing; and directing – in short, much of our daily conscious lives.

      Evidence increases monthly that there are neural correlates for attention, working memory, language understanding, and for...

    • 8. NEURAL MODELS OF CONSCIOUS PROPERTIES
      (pp. 172-195)

      The research reviewed in previous chapters establishes neuroanatomical correlates for particular perceptual, affective and cognitive processes that happen also to be conscious. This approach, by far the most prevalent in neuroscience, identifies neuroanatomical correlates for specific processes, hoping thereby to capture consciousness in the process by capturing it in the processes. Another approach that works from general properties of consciousness to neural correlates for those properties has also gained considerable traction in the neuroscience community. This approach, which provides neural models of consciousness and conscious properties, is this chapter’s topic.

      A noticeably high incidence of disagreement permeates this research. Granted,...

  7. PART III: PHILOSOPHY, NEUROSCIENCE AND CONSCIOUSNESS
    • 9. MEASUREMENT, LOCALIZATION, MODELS AND DISSOCIATION
      (pp. 196-219)

      The previous chapters show that there are systematic correlations between conscious processes, events, states and properties and neural events, states, processes and properties and that these correlations are to varying degrees localized to particular cortical regions. The ever-growing mountains of evidence for such localized systematic covariations are grist for the reductionist’s mill, suggesting that conscious properties do not just covary with activity in localized neural assemblies but that the latter are neural substrates of the former. It is a relatively quick, albeit contentious, argument from the claim that neural properties and events are substrates of conscious properties and events to...

    • 10. CORRELATES, REALIZERS AND MULTIPLE REALIZATION
      (pp. 220-242)

      If microphysical neural reductionism gets things right, conscious properties inherit all their causal powers from the microphysical properties of certain neural assemblies and so are totally realized by those microphysical neural properties. A strategy for showing that conscious properties inherit all their causal powers from microphysical neural properties is the following. First, include subjective perspectivity, qualitative character and intentionality in the set of representational properties. Second, include representational properties in the set of functional properties. Third, survey enough of the neuropsychological, neuroimaging and evolutionary evidence to convince doubters that the neural correlates of such functionalized conscious properties are also neural...

    • 11. MICROPHYSICAL REDUCTION, OVERDETERMINATION AND COUPLING
      (pp. 243-266)

      The rush to image the neural correlates of conscious events can look more than a little like high-tech phrenology (Uttal 2001). Although feeling bumps on the skull and producing cranial maps has been replaced by a lot of coloured pictures and intracranial neural maps, the drive to reduce consciousness to something small remains the same. Still, it would be surprising were there nothing at all to the correlational evidence. What the neuroscientific evidence suggests instead is that conscious properties cannot be instantiated outside a neural environment. Those wary of even this much optimism counter that subjective perspectivity, intentionality and qualitative...

    • 12. EMBODIED AND EMBEDDED CONSCIOUSNESS
      (pp. 267-294)

      Grant that intentional content, subjective perspectivity and qualitative character supervene on and covary with neural events and neural properties, and grant that the latter are core and even differential realizers of the former. Grant that nothing much less complex than widespread activity in the thalamocortical system is implicated as the neural realizer of any conscious property. Grant all of that – it’s another question whether even this widespread field of neural activity is itself enough for conscious property instantiation. Perhaps the base relative to which all the conscious properties are higher-order or emergent is composed not only of neural assemblies...

  8. CONCLUDING SEMI-SCIENTIFIC POSTSCRIPT
    (pp. 295-310)

    This book has focused on three general topics. Chapters 1–4 introduced the dominant philosophical accounts of conscious properties and reduction and some of the philosophical difficulties that conscious properties and reduction pose. In Chapters 5–8, we introduced some of the recent neuropsychological and other neuroscientific findings about conscious properties and suggested how those findings have been used to help understand some of the standard philosophical difficulties with reducing conscious properties to something physical. And in Chapters 9–12, we introduced some of the current philosophical thinking about conscious properties that promises to stir up trouble about both the...

  9. APPENDIX: FUNCTIONAL NEUROANATOMY
    (pp. 311-338)
  10. NOTES
    (pp. 339-346)
  11. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 347-370)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 371-390)