Consciousness (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
We have just focused on the emergence of a kind of intentionalismabout consciousness that is not only reductive, butexternalist, strongly restrictivist, and completelynon-reflexivist. But we now need to make it clearer howintentionalist views can be advanced that depart significantly fromthat position along one or more of each of these dimensions. Considerfirst how an intentionalist might oppose both separatism andexternalism. One might begin with a Cartesian thought experiment inwhich one conceives of one’s consciousness with all itssubjective riches intact, though the spatial realm of nature issupposed a fiction. Or less radically, one may start with the sciencefiction scenario of a “brain in a vat”, whose artificiallyinduced activity generates an extended history of sense experiencethat is indistinguishable—in its subjective, phenomenalcharacter—from that of a subject with a human body moving aboutin the environment, as we believe ourselves to do. Again, if youassume an externalist view of intentionality, you may conclude thatphenomenal character, being thus detachable from the external world,is also separable from (and insufficient for) intentionality. However,you might instead turn your guns in the oppositedirection—against externalism. It may seem to you thatthe most intuitively plausible reading of the vat scenario would takethe brain’s experience to be a global hallucination,something like a vivid, massively coherent dream, and so asystematically incorrect experience of where the subject ofexperience is and what is happening around it. And so, we should thinkthe intentionality or representational character ofsuch experience would survive its estrangement from the world, alongwith its phenomenal character. One may then infer that for at leastsome contents/kinds of intentionality or representation, the kind ofcausal tie between mind and world that, according to someexternalisms, we need for fixing its intentional content, is notstrictly necessary after all. This route to a non-externalistintentionalism about consciousness finds varying expression in, forexample, Kriegel 2011, Horgan and Tienson 2002, Loar 2003, and Ludwig1996b.)
Consciousness and Intentionality (Stanford …
The higher-order view is most obviously relevant to the meta-mentalforms of consciousness, but some of its supporters take it to explainother types of consciousness as well, including the more subjectivewhat it's like and qualitative types. One common strategy is to analyzequalia as mental features that are capable of occurring unconsciously;for example they might be explained as properties of inner states whosestructured similarity relations given rise to beliefs about objectivesimilarities in the world (Shoemaker 1975, 1990). Though unconsciousqualia can play that functional role, there need be nothing that it islike to be in a state that has them (Nelkin 1989, Rosenthal 1991,1997). According to the HO theorist, what-it's-likeness entersonly when we become aware of that first-order state and its qualitativeproperties by having an appropriate meta-state directed at it.
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Psychology as a Science of Consciousness and Behaviour - Essay
To say you are in a state that is (phenomenally) conscious is tosay—on a certain understanding of these terms—that youhave an experience, or a state there is somethingit’s like for you to be in. Feeling pain or dizziness,appearances of color or shape, and episodic thought are some widelyaccepted examples. Intentionality, on the other hand, has to do withthe directedness, aboutness, or reference of mental states—thefact that, for example, you think of or aboutsomething. Intentionality includes, and is sometimes seen asequivalent to, what is called “mental representation”.
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By the beginning of the early modern era in the seventeenth century,consciousness had come full center in thinking about the mind. Indeedfrom the mid-17th through the late 19th century, consciousness waswidely regarded as essential or definitive of the mental. RenéDescartes defined the very notion of thought (pensée) in terms ofreflexive consciousness or self-awareness. In the Principles ofPhilosophy (1640) he wrote,
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Questions about the nature of conscious awareness have likely beenasked for as long as there have been humans. Neolithic burial practicesappear to express spiritual beliefs and provide early evidence for atleast minimally reflective thought about the nature of humanconsciousness (Pearson 1999, Clark and Riel-Salvatore 2001).Preliterate cultures have similarly been found invariably to embracesome form of spiritual or at least animist view that indicates a degreeof reflection about the nature of conscious awareness.
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Later, toward the end of the 17th century, John Locke offered asimilar if slightly more qualified claim in An Essay on HumanUnderstanding (1688),