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Phenomenal Consciousness: Understanding the Relation between Experience and Neural Processes in the Brain

Dimitris Platchias
Copyright Date: 2011
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt130hd3g
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  • Book Info
    Phenomenal Consciousness
    Book Description:

    This book explains the key concepts that surround the issue as well as the nature of the hard problem and the several approaches to it. It gives a comprehensive treatment of the phenomenon, incorporating its main metaphysical and epistemic aspects as well as recent empirical findings, such as the phenomena of blindsight, change blindness, visual-form agnosia and optic ataxia, mirror recognition in other primates, split-brain cases, and visual extinction.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-9467-8
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-6)

    Philosophers of mind are frequently faced with the following question: if you are interested in the mind, why not study brain science or psychology or artificial intelligence as opposed to philosophy? Another question often asked is: how can philosophy possibly contribute to our understanding of the workings of the brain and the nature of cognition and perception in general; or how can it possibly add anything to the ever-increasing wealth of empirical findings brought to light by cognitive scientists and neuroscientists in recent years? Philosophers generally respond that philosophy is (partly) concerned to find out which sciences are relevant and...

  5. 1. THE NATURE OF THE MIND
    (pp. 7-48)

    In this chapter, I shall present the main philosophical positions on the nature of mentality, such as substance dualism, physicalism and functionalism. This will enable us to locate the subject matter of this book within broader discussions of the mind–body problem. In this section, I shall look at substance dualism and, in particular, at the Cartesian conception of the mind. René Descartes’ project in theMeditations on First Philosophyis a quest for indubitable truths. Descartes famously applies the method of universal doubt to “all things” in an attempt to empty the mind completely of all traditional views and...

  6. 2. PHENOMENAL CONSCIOUSNESS: THE HARD PROBLEM
    (pp. 49-64)

    Imagine the best slice of pizza in the world: New York-style size, two thin and crispy crusts, with melted provolone and cheddar cheese, pizza sauce and toppings in between. Imagine you bite into the slice and taste its deliciousness. What is the underlying mechanism that enables you to taste the pizza? Contemporary neuroscience tells us that taste is a function of the central nervous system. It arises from the regions of the oral cavity and, in particular, from chemical changes in your taste buds, which are located on the upper surface of your tongue and the roof of your mouth....

  7. 3. PHENOMENAL CONSCIOUSNESS AND THE “SUFFICIENCY” CLAIM
    (pp. 65-92)

    Once upon a time in philosophy, it was thought that one’s knowledge of one’s own current mental states isinfallible. Thoughts, and mental states in general, were thought to betransparentto the thinker, that is, nothing can be in my mind without my knowing that it is there, whereas, say, my body is not transparent to me in the same sense. It was held that the mind is a totally transparent medium. If I believe that I am in pain, for example, then I am in pain, and if I believe that I am not in pain then I...

  8. 4. EXPERIENCE AND FIRST-ORDER REPRESENTATIONALISM
    (pp. 93-126)

    According to dispositionalists, we experience our first-order states by virtue of a certain kind ofdispositional rolethat these states have. Dispositionalists claim that no higher-order state is required for a first-order state to beactuallyconscious, but only the potential to generate a higher-order state. According to the dispositionalist view, first-order experiences are first-order states that meet certain conditions. On this account, there is still a necessary tie between mental qualitative properties and experience. But it appears that there is a difference between such accounts and accounts such as those of Block and Chalmers. With respect to our sensory...

  9. 5. EXPERIENCE AND THE EXPLANATORY GAP
    (pp. 127-146)

    We saw in previous chapters that we have good reason to think that qualitative properties can occur unconsciously. There is a large amount of evidence that shows that our unconscious states have effects on behaviour and other mental states independently of whether or not the state is conscious. In Chapter 4, we saw that dispositionalist accounts are highly implausible; first-order states do not become conscious in virtue of a dispositional role these states may have. First-order mental states can occur unconsciously independently of whether they are qualitative or of whether they are suitably disposed or poised to bring about certain...

  10. 6 EXPERIENCE AND HIGHER-ORDER REPRESENTATIONALISM
    (pp. 147-180)

    In the previous chapters we saw that there is good reason to think that mental qualitative properties are explanatorily irrelevant to experience or what-it-is-likeness. Further, we cannot come up with the required explanation for experience by appealing to any number of physical properties of neural states. Thus we should attempt a different explanatory strategy. Since consciousness is what makes mental states experiences – that is, such that there is something it is like for one to be in them – it could itself be a mental phenomenon, and since, as we saw previously,dispositionalismfalls short of providing the required...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 181-200)
  12. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 201-210)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 211-216)