(Warning: neuroscience weeds) Earlier this year I discussed Victor Lamme's theory of consciousness, that phenomenal experience is recurrent neural processing, that is, neural signalling that happens in loops, from lower layers to higher layers and back, or more broadly from region to region and back. In his papers, Lamme notes that recurrent processing is an … Continue reading The unproductive search for simple solutions to consciousness
The hard problem of consciousness, a term coined by philosopher David Chalmers, asks how physical systems can produce phenomenal consciousness. Chalmers' term, coined in the 1990s, applied to an older problem that's been around for along time, the mind-body problem. More recently, Chalmers noted his intuition that the hard problem is widely and intuitively held … Continue reading Regular people: What hard problem of consciousness?
How do we know whether any particular system is conscious? In humans, we typically know because most humans can talk about their conscious experience. Historically, if we can report on it, it's conscious; if we can't, it's in the unconscious. But this raises a difficulty for any entity that doesn't have language, including non-human animals, … Continue reading There is no phenomenality without access
One of the current debates in consciousness research is whether phenomenal consciousness is something separate and apart from access consciousness. Access consciousness (A-consciousness) is generally defined as perceptions being accessible for reasoning, action decisions, and communication. Phenomenal consciousness (P-consciousness) is seen as raw experience, the "something it is like" aspect of consciousness. Most researchers accept … Continue reading Subjective report doesn’t support the idea that phenomenal consciousness is separate from access consciousness
This old talk by Daniel Dennett touches on a lot of topics we've discussed recently. Dennett explains why it's wrong to regard phenomenal consciousness (the "what it's likeness" or "raw experience" version) as separate from access consciousness (the cognitive access of information for decision making, memory, report, etc). Note that Dennett doesn't deny the existence … Continue reading Daniel Dennett on why phenomenal consciousness is access consciousness
I've often pondered that the hard problem of consciousness, the perceived problem of understanding how phenomenal consciousness can happen in physical systems, arises due to the fact that our intuitive model of the phenomenal is very different from our intuitive model of the physical, of the brain in particular. As is usually the case, anytime … Continue reading The phenomenal concept strategy and issues with conceptual isolation
Massimo Pigliucci has a good article on consciousness at Aeon. In it, he takes aim both at illusionists as well as those who claim consciousness is outside the purview of science. Although I'd say he's more worked up about the illusionists. However, rather than taking the typical path of strawmanning the claim, he deals with … Continue reading Massimo on consciousness: no illusion, but also no spookiness
I've often noted that I find more consilience than disagreement between the empirically grounded theories of consciousness. They seem to be looking at the problem at differing levels of organization, and together they may present a growing scientific consensus about how the mind works. In particular, a few weeks ago, when discussing higher order theories, … Continue reading A standard model of consciousness?
Stephen T. Asma and Rami Gabriel have an interesting article at Aeon on emotions. Their main thesis is that many emotions are biological, universal, and rooted in evolution. And that they arise through "the strata of consciousness": the physiological, the experential, and the conceptual. They start off casting aspersions on computationalism, evolutionary psychology, and artificial … Continue reading The reflex and the feeling
Ever since sharing Ned Block's talk on it, phenomenal consciousness has been on my mind. This week, I decided I needed to go back to the main spokesperson for the issue of subjective experience, David Chalmers, and his seminal paper Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness. I have to admit I've skimmed this paper … Continue reading Chalmers’ theory of consciousness