sexta-feira, 11 de maio de 2012

# CONSCIOUSNESS AND REALITY: A SMALL CARTOGRAPHY

This is a draft a paper to be published in its full developed form in the book Lines of Thought: Rethinking Philosophical Assumptions (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014).


THREE FORMS OF CONSCIOUSNESS AND HOW THEY ARE RELATED TO REALITY



Das, was einmal gesehen, das Auffallendste und Stärkste ist, fällt uns nicht auf.
[We fail to be struck by that which, once seen, is the most striking and the most powerful.]
—Wittgenstein

The primary aims of this paper are to show that there is an essential link between the concepts of consciousness and reality and to explain how this link is established and preserved in what seem to me to be the three main forms of consciousness. Apart from the results of conceptual analysis, my purpose is in Wittgenstein’s sense therapeutic: I wish to dispel some possible metaphysical speculations by showing that there is a necessary, but completely non-mysterious internal link between the two concepts.
The key point I wish to emphasize is something that should be obvious, namely, that consciousness must always be awareness of how things really are. After all, it seems very plausible to think that consciousness is an evolutionary product aiming to reflect reality in order to enable the conscious organism to interact successfully with the world. Accordingly, since mind has a receptive, perceptual dimension, and an active, volitional dimension, consciousness belongs to the receptive dimension because of its function of reflecting reality, even if this has indispensable consequences for action. I do not see any need to prove that the function of consciousness is to reflect things as they really are, because I consider this an intuitive and almost trivial insight. It is, nevertheless, an important minor insight that we could easily overlook if we do not spell it out in some detail.
 To elucidate this point further, I begin by accepting a complementary and also very plausible assumption, namely, that consciousness always involves representational experience. Concerning representations, it is essential to remember that they can be either veridical or non-veridical. A veridical representation can be regarded as one that is either correct for a given individual or a given property, or true for a fact (understood as an umbrella term for given situations, circumstances, states of affairs, events and processes). Assuming this, I define a veridical representation as one that represents what it is aimed to represent.[1] Moreover, we can say that here a representation represents what it is aimed to represent when it represents things (individuals, properties, facts) as they really are. But what do we mean by ‘things as they really are’? The answer is: they are at least those things that we are reasonably able to accept as being what they appear to be when we represent them, that is, insofar as they are things that we would see as real under circumstances of interpersonal agreement. So understood, my proposal is that a necessary condition for consciousness is that it involves some kind of veridical representation. This brings us to the connection between consciousness and reality: in a sense, a representation is conscious at least when it is veridical, namely, when it represents what it is aimed to represent in the sense that it represents things as they really are for us.
An example can be helpful: suppose I believe I see a snake near my feet. Now, it seems that one can say that I am conscious of a snake near my feet only when this state of affairs is real. This means that in this case the representation of the snake, which is involved in my visual experience of the snake, must represent what it is aimed to represent, namely, the physically real snake. If my experience were illusory, one could not say that I was effectively conscious of a snake near my feet, since the depicted state of affairs would not be physically real. This non-veridical representation represents what it is not aimed to represent, in this case, an illusory snake, which compromises my awareness of what is happening. In other words: I am conscious of a snake near my feet when I have a veridical representation of a snake, namely, when a representation corresponds to what it is aimed to represent, what at least means that what is aimed to be represented can be interpersonally accepted as the real thing.
These considerations make it plausible to think that a person can be called conscious insofar as she has a sufficient number of veridical representations. This would be what could called global consciousness, relative to the living being as such. It can be argued that even when we say that a person has moral consciousness (conscience), what we really mean is that she is able to have a fair, that is, a veridical representation of the moral circumstances involved in her actions.
In what follows, I offer support for the view sketched above. In order to do this, I will identify and briefly discuss three main kinds of consciousness, which we may call sensory, reflexive and thinking consciousness. This distinction has the theoretical advantage of being able to encompass in the simplest way most of what we naturally and meaningfully call conscious phenomena. After presenting each of these kinds of consciousness, I will show how the proposed relationship between consciousness and reality fits with each of them.

Sensory consciousness
The first kind of consciousness is what David Armstrong called perceptual consciousness, but which I prefer to call sensory consciousness.[2] This is the most primary form of consciousness, which can be seen as the:

Sensory representation of things outside of us and of our own bodies.

Sensory consciousness involves being awake, aware of and responsive to the environment. It involves some level of cognition regarding the processes of perceiving things in the external world and of sensing what is going on in our own body. This sense of the word is very common: physicians speak of a loss of consciousness when referring to a patient in a coma, and as a diagnostic method they used to squirt cold water into the ears of unconscious patients to see whether they would react. When John Searle wrote that consciousness is what we regain when we wake up in the morning and what we lose when we fall into a dreamless sleep, or lapse into a coma or die, he had in mind above all the loss and regaining of consciousness in this primary sense.[3] Our knowledge of sensory consciousness is indirect, primarily grounded on third-person experience and then on first-person access based on reflexive or thinking consciousness, as we will see.
This is the most primitive form of consciousness. Even mice can have it, for a mouse has sensory reactions to the world outside it and to what is happening inside its own body. Indeed, after sedating a mouse with chloroform, we could say that the mouse has lost consciousness, meaning consciousness in its sensory form.
There is a problem here with regard to the boundaries of consciousness. If being conscious is to perceive the world and sense our own inner states, then it seems that far too many organisms must be conscious. A bee, an ant and a shrimp are able to perceive the world in some sense of the word. But we would not say that these creatures are conscious. I once saw a headline in a newspaper in London: ‘Scientists have discovered that flies are conscious’. I didn’t need to read the article to conclude that this could not be true, and I had good reasons to think so. An explanation, I believe, comes from Friedrich Waismann’s personal exposition of Wittgenstein’s views.[4] As with many psychological concepts, we can apply the word ‘conscious’ only in referring to creatures that display a sufficient degree of mental and behavioural complexity. Consider, for example, the concept of understanding. It is different from that of perceiving. Although we may say that in some sense flies and shrimps can perceive the world, it is not that easy to suppose that they can understand anything. Why? Because the concept of understanding applies more properly to creatures able to display sufficiently complex behaviour. We are not inclined to say that insects have, or lose or regain sensory consciousness, probably because they do not have anything approaching our sensory-perceptual experience. It is true that the concept of consciousness lacks sharp boundaries, but although its domains include even mice, the wisdom of the language suggests that it would be senseless to extend it much further.
Finally, the concept of sensory consciousness does justice to the fact that consciousness is a biological phenomenon. Biological beings are so very different from mechanical automatons that consciousness could not be expected in the latter. Although a camera can make pictures that represent states of affairs, it does not do this of itself: Since the pictures lack psychological intentions and biologically grounded aims, they require an interpreter who sees them as representing some state of affairs. This is also a reason to think that computers will never be able to represent anything in a veridical way and that a non-biological machine will never be conscious.
Sensory consciousness and reality
Returning to our main point: sensory consciousness involves the necessary condition of consciousness, that of representing things and facts as they really are. If the aim is to perceptually represent things in a veridical way and we succeed in doing this, we are said to be primarily conscious. Even a mouse must aim to represent a cat as it really is and not as a piece of cheese, for its own sake (this aim can be inferred from the manifest behaviour of mice, and does not imply an attribution of intentionality).

It is important to note that when we speak about sensory consciousness, we are not usually linking it with the veridicality of a representation alone, but rather with a cluster of representations of variable size. Consider, for example, an alcoholic suffering from delirium tremens. In this condition, he may lie writhing in bed, trembling, sweating, uttering incoherent groans and suffering all sorts of tactile and visual hallucinations of disgusting creatures attacking him, while he twists and turns and tries to protect himself. His consciousness is said to be disoriented and confused. Indeed, we could say that he lacks sensory consciousness of the world around him, although not completely.
This is also a reason why we are not inclined to say that dreams are conscious. Dreams are non-veridical representations that do not correspond to what the dreamer believes he is representing, because the content of these representations is something that on reflection he would not be willing to accept as real. Therefore, in this sense they cannot be conscious. However, a truly prophetic dream foreseeing a future real state of affairs could be regarded as a product of consciousness, as it would be veridical. This clairvoyant dream could even be said to be ‘super-conscious’.
We can explain the kind of non-veridicality of dreams as recurring to two domains of reality. The first is that of concrete reality, of reality as such: of things involving us, our bodies and even qualitatively subjective states like feelings, as we originally experience them. The second domain is that of as if reality, the kind of fictional reality we attribute to dream images, hallucinations or projected images in a dream that only imitate concrete reality. If we assume this, we can say that the lack of consciousness in a dream results from a category mistake: a dreamer believes her dreams represent concrete reality, since this is what she aims to represent. Actually, all she manages to represent is a fictional reality. This is why the representations in a dream can be said to be non-veridical and therefore non-conscious. If the intention were only to represent a fictional reality, they would be veridical and therefore conscious. This is also the reason why a daydream is said to be conscious. It is because its representations are veridical in the sense that they represent what they are meant to represent, namely, only a kind of fictional reality.

Reflexive consciousness
The second and more important kind of consciousness is what we could call reflexive consciousness. Reflexive consciousness or self-consciousness can be seen as the:

cognitive representation of one’s own mental states.

This primarily simultaneous cognitive/representational experience of our internal mental states is what we may call reflexive cognition, which can have as its objects all kinds of mental states: sensations, feelings, desires, perceptions and even thoughts and beliefs. (Since many first-order mental states are already cognitive or representational, their second-order reflexive cognitions can be correctly called meta-cognitions or meta-representations.) Reflexive consciousness is consciousness in capital letters. It is typically, if not properly, human. The great apes can have it, but not mice and probably not even new-born human infants. [5]
As an example of how reflexive consciousness makes a difference, imagine that you have a barely perceptible headache that lasts all day long, but you simply ignore it. However, whenever you do pay attention to it, you see that the feeling is still there, and language allows you to say that your headache is conscious. Now, when you pay attention to a state of discomfort, what you may have is a suitable simultaneous reflexive cognition about this state.[6] It is this reflexive consciousness that makes people truly conscious, and evidence for this is that you are able to report verbally on it, saying that you have a headache.
Reflexive consciousness was already conceived by Armstrong as similar to a computer’s self-scanning function. He developed an important explanation for the emergence of reflexive consciousness (which he called ‘introspective consciousness’). His proposal is that through evolution the mental processes of living beings have become increasingly complex and sophisticated. While this was happening, mental processes gave rise to drives that caused them to be simultaneously monitored, that is, controlled, organized and directed by a higher instance.[7] This higher instance, we could add, is what is responsible for reflexive consciousness, that is, suitable cognitions of lower-order mental states.
The main objection to the monitoring hypothesis is that reflexive cognitions are thoughts generated by simultaneous lower-order mental states and that these reflexive cognitions (usually second-order cognitions) have, therefore, no causal influence on the lower-order mental states that generate them.[8] However, for two reasons this conclusion is unnecessary: the first is that the reflexive cognitions that make the lower-order states conscious seem to be generated by our attention to the lower-order states and not by these states alone. The second is that according to the causal theory of action, reasons can have causal effects, and reasons for action are nothing more than beliefs plus desires (volitions). If we accept this, it is easy to understand that suitable reflexive cognitions, being asserted thoughts, that is, beliefs, when adequately associated with volitions directing our attention, could also possess causal power. Through their association with volitions, reflexive cognitions would be able to control the lower-order states of mind and in this way to influence the actions arising from them.
Since first-order mental events can usually be seen as representations, reflexive consciousness of them must involve suitable reflexive representations or meta-cognitions. For this reason, we can speak about reflexive consciousness in two ways: in a relational way – as transitive consciousness – by saying that we are conscious of our first-order states, and in a non-relational way – as state consciousness – by saying that first-order mental states are conscious.[9] Thus, I can say that I am conscious of my feelings for Suzy (relational or transitive consciousness), but I can also say that my feelings for Suzy are conscious (non-relational or state consciousness). These reflexive representations are what make us conscious of first-order mental states. But they are not able to make us conscious of themselves. In order to reach consciousness, they would need to be the objects of meta-reflexive cognitions (usually meta-meta-cognitions), and so on. As Rosenthal noted, writing on this issue, the thought at the top always remains beyond the reach of consciousness.
It is interesting to consider the relation between reflexive and sensory consciousness. We can only achieve first-person awareness of our sensory consciousness because we are able to have reflexive cognitions/ representations of the sensory and perceptual states belonging to the latter. Therefore, in our view, perceptual consciousness is paradoxically a non-conscious kind of consciousness. (A cat can recognize a dog and be afraid of it, but it probably cannot be conscious that it is facing its archenemy or even of its own fear.)[10]
Finally, the adoption of the concepts of reflexive and sensory consciousness helps us to explain some interesting empirical phenomena:
1) Somnambulism: sleepwalkers can sit up in bed, walk around and even engage in hazardous activities without being awake, afterward being unable to remember their actions. Here, as Armstrong would say, the system of reflexive consciousness is switched off, while the system of sensory consciousness continues to operate.
2) Blind-sight: Persons with blind-sight have lost part of their visual field. But they can respond to visual stimuli they cannot consciously see. They can often correctly guess what is present in the blind half of their visual field, and in some cases with prompting they can catch objects thrown in front of them or even move themselves around objects that they say they didn´t have seen. The cause of blind-sight is a lesion in region V1 of the visual cortex, where information from more primitive regions of the brain is integrated and processed. The explanation for blind-sight could be that although an affected person still has sensory visual consciousness, he lacks the capacity for reflexive consciousness of visual states. This could be the reason why he or she is not conscious of seeing anything.
3) Benjamin Libet’s experiments: In Libet’s well-known experiments, a subject is taught to make a movement after receiving a stimulus. After the stimulus, an unconscious build-up of electrical charges occurs within the brain that is called a readiness potential (Bereitschaftspotential), corresponding to the decision to act. However, the awareness of the decision – which arises ~200 milliseconds before the conscious action is made – occurs ~350 milliseconds after the readiness potential arises, showing that the decision to act is made before it is consciously taken.
The explanation would be that although sensory consciousness arises simultaneously with the readiness potential, reflexive consciousness only arises ~350 milliseconds later. The readiness potential, resulting from the fact that the agent has already been taught the reaction he is to make after the stimulus is given, demonstrates the presence of sensory consciousness. The monitoring function of reflexive consciousness is made evident by the fact that the agent is still able to suppress or withhold the action in the next ~200 milliseconds, as Libet’s experiments also show. In my view, these experiments not only demonstrate the extent to which sensory consciousness is in itself unconscious, they also confirm the existence and role of reflexive consciousness.
4) Lucid dreams: these are dreams in which we are aware that we are dreaming and that we can steer in different ways, according to our own will. These dreams, also called conscious dreams, have greater clarity, and after we awaken, we can more easily and clearly remember them than most other dreams. Reflexive consciousness could explain this: dream processes become more conscious when we gain a suitable meta-cognitive representation of them.

Integrative dimension of reflexive consciousness
The main alternatives to the idea of reflexive consciousness are what we may call integrationist views.[11] According to these views, conscious states are not properly those that are the object of reflexive cognitions, but those that can be well integrated into the conscious person’s system of mental states and motor system, that is, with her actions and speech. Indeed, unconscious mental states are more or less isolated: one cannot make them conscious by means of their usual association with other cognitive states. Moreover, they usually remain unrelated to the motor system, particularly to speech, as we see in cases of non-reportable subliminal perception. Based on this, one can hold that repressed and subliminal states are unconscious not because we do not have simultaneous meta-cognition of them, but because we are unable to integrate them sufficiently with the other mental states of the system. Thus, it seems that there are two competing ways to explain state consciousness: integrative and reflexive.
At this point, I would like to offer a reconciliatory hunch. My suggestion is that integration is typically mediated by reflexive cognition, which has some kind of binding property: the property of integrating the first-order state referred to by it with a system of other states. We can recall Bernard Baar’s metaphor of the theatre of consciousness in his global workspace theory of consciousness – a typical integrationist theory. According to this metaphor, a conscious state is a mental state under the spotlight of the reflector of attention, which enables this state to be ‘broadcast’ to the whole auditorium of pre-conscious and unconscious states.[12] This is an interesting metaphor. But I would add that a suitable reflexive cognition is the very spotlight controlled by the reflector of attention. This view is not without intuitive appeal: When we become aware of a mental state, we inevitably recognize it by cognitive means. However, in doing this we are inevitably relating the state to others, and – actually or potentially – to the whole system, including the motor system.
To illustrate this point, consider the case of a man undergoing a seizure of temporal epilepsy. He is able to act and even speak, showing some degree of integration. But since this integration is comparatively deficient, it is justifiable to say that he has ‘a narrowed field of consciousness’. But along with this, it seems to be a lack of reflexive consciousness, since after recovering from the seizure he cannot remember his actions. According to the view I am suggesting, reflexive cognition and integration go together; reflexive cognition is a way of improving integration.[13]
Finally, my proposal for reconciling the two positions also suggests an answer to what some theoreticians consider the main objection to cognitive-reflexive views of consciousness. This is that they do not provide a criterion for distinguishing between a reflexive cognition that makes a mental state conscious and a reflexive cognition that does not.[14] My proposed solution is: the criterion should be the binding property of a non-inferential and simultaneously reflexive cognition produced by attention. What makes a reflexive cognition suitable for consciousness is that it has the binding property of integrating the lower-order state it refers to with a whole system of mental states.

Reflexive consciousness and reality
Returning to our Leitfaden: Just as with sensory consciousness, reflexive consciousness also involves veridical representation. The difference is that reflexive consciousness (considered in its relational sense) does not consist in veridical (meta-)representations of sensed or perceived states of affairs, but rather in veridical (meta-)representations of lower-level mental states. However, we can only say that we are conscious of these first-order mental states because they are in some way veridically represented: they are represented as they really are. If these (meta-)representations are not veridical, then we cannot say that lower-level states are really conscious, or even that we are conscious of what they represent. Consider, for example, the case of someone who constantly lies to himself about his sensations, feelings and thoughts. If he consistently reads them incorrectly in his mind, he will be said to be a person who lacks self-consciousness.
A first case of non-veridical representation producing a lack of consciousness concerns feelings. In Shakespeare’s comedy Much Ado About Nothing, Benedick and Beatrice are secretly in love, but because of their pride, they prefer to believe that they very much despise each other. Perceiving what is going on, their friends decide to help them. They tell each of them separately that the other is dying of unrequited love. This is sufficient to make them conscious that they are actually in love with each other and to reconcile them. Now, it is only when they are enabled to make a veridical reflexive representation of their real feelings – their repressed feelings of love – that their feelings can become conscious. Weren’t they previously conscious of their mutual antipathy? Yes, since they had a veridical representation of their self-defensively produced mutual antipathy. But we cannot say that they were aware of their true feelings, for they had no veridical representation of them, as they were hindered in their development.
Another case is that of lucid dreams. Dreams, as is commonly said, are not conscious. But a lucid dream is considered to have a certain level of consciousness. It is even called a ‘conscious dream’. Why? Because it involves a simultaneous and veridical meta-cognitive representation of the dreaming process or, as we could also say, of fictional reality in its fictional character, which is its real character. Indeed, we can have a nightmare that nearly awakens us, and then, half-awake, we can tell ourselves: ‘This is only a dream’. This case also shows that the veridicality of suitable meta-cognitions concerning the represented mental states is essential to reflexive consciousness.
A particularly important case is that of conscious perception, which is in fact reflexive consciousness of a perceptual sensory consciousness. When the object of a reflexive representation is a perceptual representation, that is something belonging to sensory-perceptual consciousness (which is already cognitive), the reflexive representation is aimed to be doubly veridical: it must be (i) a simultaneous and veridical meta-cognitive representation of (ii) a veridical perceptual representation of empirical things and facts. For example: If I am reflexively aware that I am perceiving a snake near my feet, I must be veridically aware of my veridical sensory perception of this fact, namely, of the real snake near my real feet.
One could still object that subliminal perceptions are veridical, but not conscious. However, this is misleading, since they are not conscious only in the reflexive sense of the word. We say that they are veridical because we receive a third-person acknowledgment that we are sensorially conscious of them. As such, they are standard examples of what we have already called ‘unconscious consciousness’.

Thinking consciousness
A last and more controversial point: I believe that we need to add one more kind of consciousness in order to accommodate some resilient intuitions. It seems that in many cases we are said to be conscious of things that are neither objects of present perceptual, sensory nor emotional experience, that are not personal memories, and that are not simultaneously meta-represented by given mental states. For example: I am conscious that:

·       The Moon is a large spherical rocky object orbiting the Earth.
·       Heinrich Schliemann discovered the site of Troy.
·       I cannot simultaneously go to a movie and to my favourite restaurant.
·       The sum total of matter and energy in a closed system remains constant over time.
·       The sum of the internal angles of a Euclidean triangle is 180º.

We may call these confirmed contents of consciousness mediated thoughts, because they are beliefs supported by other thoughts about states of affairs that are not presently accessible to experience. It is true that such mediated thoughts can be accompanied by reflexive meta-cognitions: we think about them when we think that we are thinking them. But isn’t it true that when we think them without thinking about them, we are already in a good measure conscious of them? Is it not the case that their own existence entails consciousness of their contents? So it seems: if I really think that Schliemann discovered Troy or that the sum of matter and energy remains constant in a closed system, then I cannot be unaware of what is implied by these thoughts, even if I am not simultaneously meta-cognitively conscious of my thinking them.
I believe that it is because of the fact that alone the occurrence of such mediated thoughts is sufficient to give us consciousness of their contents that some philosophers have maintained that conscious mental states intrinsically generate reflexive higher-order representations. However, we know that this view is implausible not only because in this case there would be no unconscious mental states, but also because this view lacks intuitive evidence.
My proposal is not that mediated thoughts are conscious of themselves, since this would be the function of a simultaneous meta-cognitive or reflexive awareness of them. My proposal is that they are conscious in themselves, because their representational function gives them a conscious-making function beyond that of sensory consciousness. They have a multi-representational role in the sense that they are like crystals reflecting veridical information coming from other thoughts and from experiences. Consider, for example, the thought that I cannot go to the cinema and to my favourite restaurant at the same time. I am conscious of the content of this thought without having a meta-cognitive or reflexive awareness of it, because this thought-content can only be appreciated against the background of representations of perceptual experiences that are themselves representations of external states of affairs. If this is so, then thinking consciousness is not a form of unconscious consciousness, like sensory consciousness; rather it works somewhat like reflexive consciousness. In some way, it must make us aware of sensory experiences and/or conceptual rules implied in the mediated thoughts. Complementarily, the mediated thoughts also gain their conscious status by reaching a more nodal position in our network of beliefs, which endows them with increased integrative power – a nodal position that cannot be separated from their multi-representational function.

Thinking consciousness and reality
Finally, mediated thoughts must be veridical representations supported in a variety of ways by representations ultimately grounded in sensory experience and/or conceptual rules. Thinking consciousness demands a cluster of veridical representations, even without directly involving the present experience of their ultimate perceptual or conceptual truth-makers. On the other hand, the non-veridical representation of the states of affairs involved in thinking consciousness can limit or hinder consciousness. Consequently, one cannot be conscious that the Moon is a large round lump of green cheese or that energy can be created from nothing, since these are false claims (although a person can be conscious in and of having these beliefs).

Conclusion
What I have presented here is only a programmatic sketch supported by argumentative coherence. However, I believe I have provided enough confirmation for the view that consciousness inescapably involves veridical representation. It seems clear that the veridicality of the representation is essential, in the sense of being a necessary feature of the three kinds of consciousness briefly examined here. Moreover, we may seriously consider the possibility that the veridicality of the involved representations is precisely what originally brought these three kinds of consciousness together under the same concept. For it seems clear that they are kinds of consciousness because they are distinctive means used by the mind to grasp reality.




[1] I chose to use the word ‘aim’ instead of ‘intention’ here, because the concept of intention often presupposes consciousness, which makes it unsatisfactory when we are trying to elucidate the nature of consciousness. The word ‘aim’, to the contrary, is modest enough: we can say that a spider aims to weave its web, without implying that the spider has such an intention. Here the aim is a teleological embodiment of evolutionary development.
[2] See David Armstrong, ‘What is Consciousness?’ in his The Nature of Mind (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1980), pp. 55-67. The expression ‘perceptual consciousness’ is suggestive, but grammatically misleading: if a person has a headache, she has perceptual consciousness of it; however, she is not perceiving, but rather feeling her headache. Emotions and feelings are said to be felt, not perceived.
[3] John R. Searle, Consciousness and Language (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), p. 7.
[4] F Waismann: Logic, Sprache, Philosophy (Reclam: Stuttgart, 1985).
[5] The reflexive theory of consciousness has its origins in John Locke and the philosophical tradition. But it was introduced into the contemporary philosophy of mind by David Armstrong in the already mentioned paper, as a theory of higher-order perception. David Rosenthal has over the years developed a detailed version of the reflexive view of consciousness as demanding a simultaneous and suitable higher-order thought about a lower-level state in order to make it conscious. If we understand words like ‘perception’ and ‘internal vision’ in the first theory as mere metaphors, and the word ‘thought’ in the second theory as a mere act of cognitive experience that does not necessarily require language, then both theories tend to merge into a single theory, because a higher-order cognitive representation or experience seems to be an essential common element of both. Only the emphases and some details are different. I also think that Rosenthal is mistaken in believing that his theory is incompatible with Armstrong’s and W. C. Lycan’s view that reflexive consciousness has a monitoring function, as the development of my text shows. In my exposition, I try to be neutral and use the vague and ambiguous term cognition as something assumed in both views. See D. M. Armstrong, Mind-Body Problem: An Opinionated Introduction (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1999), pp. 114-120; see also W. C. Lycan, Consciousness and Experience (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996), chap. 2. For an introduction to Rosenthal’s views, see his ‘Explaining Consciousness’, in D. J. Chalmers (ed.): Philosophy of Mind: Classical and Contemporary Readings (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002).
[6] We can typically be conscious of emotions and sensations as objects of representation; I can say that my anxiety is conscious if I have a true reflexive cognition/representation of my own feeling of anxiety. By maintaining that consciousness involves representations of how things are, I am committed to the view that there is no consciousness without representation. This commitment finds no difficulty with regard to cognitive states like perceptions, beliefs, wishes and desires. Emotions and sensations seem to be an exception, since they are not as intentionally or representational. However, this is not a necessary condition, for we can be misleading about then. One could suggest, for example, that there is also primary or sensory consciousness of pain, since neurophysiology shows that sensations have a representational structure that should reflect states of the body. See, for example, C. S. Hill: Consciousness (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), chap. 6.
[7] David Armstrong, ‘What is Consciousness?’ in The Nature of Mind, pp. 65-66.
[8] See David Rosenthal: ‘Consciousness and its Function’, Neuropsychologia, 46, 3 (2008), 829-840.
[9] The distinction between a relational and a non-relational way is explained in Bertrand Russell, An Outline of Philosophy (London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1970), chap. XX. David Rosenthal and most theorists call these ways of speaking about consciousness respectively transitive and intransitive states of consciousness.
[10] Defenders of first-order theories of consciousness tend to reduce state consciousness to sensory consciousness. As a result, they find it hard to explain the unconsciousness of many states of awareness.
[11] Integrationist views of consciousness were already held by thinkers from Kant to Freud. But they have, in different ways, also been emphasized in the contemporary philosophy of consciousness by Daniel Dennett (with his view that consciousness is cerebral celebrity), by Ned Block (with his definition of access-consciousness as the poising of a state for free use in reasoning and for directing action), by Bernard Baars (with the view that consciousness is the broadcasting of content under the spotlight of attention to the global mental workspace), by G. M. Edelman and Giulio Tononi (with the idea that consciousness corresponds to the brain’s ability to integrate information), and by many others.
[12] B. J. Baars: In the Theater of Consciousness: The Workspace of the Mind (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997).
[13] Reflexive cognition is not the only way to achieve integration. As we will see, thinking consciousness could also have an integrative dimension, and we should not confuse the two.
[14] William Seager: Theories of Consciousness: An Introduction and Assessment (London: Routledge, 1999), p. 82.

Nenhum comentário:

Postar um comentário