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Full-Text Articles in Philosophy

Global Consciousness: A Functionalist Neurophilosophical Perspective, Connor C. Bowen Jan 2019

Global Consciousness: A Functionalist Neurophilosophical Perspective, Connor C. Bowen

CMC Senior Theses

The purpose of this thesis is to explore a thought-provoking consequence of the functionalist theory of mind. Given the current organizational structure of Earth and field theories of consciousness in neuroscience, Earth is probably conscious. The argument is explored through an examination of the current organizational structure of Earth and field theories of consciousness in neuroscience, which leads to the conclusion that Earth is conscious. Various theories of mind have been proposed by neuroscientists and philosophers alike in an attempt to qualify what consciousness is and what provides the basis for consciousness to occur. Support, in the form of data ...


The Perfecting Of The Octopus, Ila France Porcher Jan 2019

The Perfecting Of The Octopus, Ila France Porcher

Animal Sentience

Cephalopods split away from the phylogenetic tree about half a billion years ago, and octopus evolution has been accelerated by an extremely low survival rate. This helps explain why this unusual animal presents qualities found in no other. It has a radially organized nervous system with a processing centre for each of its eight tentacles. Yet, although this might suggest that each tentacle has its own centre of consciousness, it remains just one animal, with one mouth to feed, and one life to lose, and it behaves as if it is centrally controlled. Its capacity for a range of intelligent ...


Complexities And Challenges Of Nonduality, Elizabeth Stephens Jul 2018

Complexities And Challenges Of Nonduality, Elizabeth Stephens

CONSCIOUSNESS: Ideas and Research for the Twenty-First Century

States of consciousness referred to as nonduality, awakening, enlightenment, moksha, peak experience, unitive states, or void states, among other terms, have garnered increasing secular attention and have become a topic of psychological and neuroscientific research. A review of the literature revealed many challenges to studying this set of states, such as inconsistent conceptualizations, a variety of models and theories, and conflicting descriptions indicating that the actual experience may not live up to the superlative descriptions found in historical texts or the expectations put forth by nondual teachers. A great deal more empirical research on this topic is needed, and researchers ...


If It Looks Like A Duck: Fish Fit The Criteria For Pain Perception, Julia E. Meyers-Manor Jan 2018

If It Looks Like A Duck: Fish Fit The Criteria For Pain Perception, Julia E. Meyers-Manor

Animal Sentience

Whereas we have denied the experience of pain to animals, including human babies, the evidence is becoming clearer that animals across a variety of species have the capacity to feel pain (Bellieni, 2012). As converging findings are collected from pain studies and the study of cognition, it is becoming harder to deny that fish are among the species that do feel pain.


Pain In Fish: Evidence From Peripheral Nociceptors To Pallial Processing, Michael L. Woodruff Jan 2018

Pain In Fish: Evidence From Peripheral Nociceptors To Pallial Processing, Michael L. Woodruff

Animal Sentience

The target article by Sneddon et al. (2018) presents convincing behavioral and pharmacological evidence that ray-finned fish consciously perceive noxious stimuli as painful. One objection to this interpretation of the evidence is that the fish nervous system is not complex enough to support the conscious experience of pain. Data that contradict this objection are presented in this commentary. The neuroanatomy and neurophysiology of the fish nervous system from the peripheral nerves to the pallium is able to support the sentient appreciation of pain.


Fish Sentience, Consciousness, And Ai, Ila France Porcher Jan 2018

Fish Sentience, Consciousness, And Ai, Ila France Porcher

Animal Sentience

The systematic criticism of articles providing evidence that fish and invertebrates can feel pain is discussed. Beliefs are known to be stronger than evidence in the human mind, and could generate this outcry, while from another perspective, the criticisms appear as a territorial move by fishermen against a perceived threat to their domain. The scientific inconsistency in which consciousness is granted to machines but not to fish and invertebrates, purely due to political bias, is pointed out. No basis exists for denying sentience to any life form as long as science is ignorant of the nature and source of consciousness.


Animal Models, Agendas And Sentience, Thomas Creson Jan 2017

Animal Models, Agendas And Sentience, Thomas Creson

Animal Sentience

Woodruff’s target article on teleost consciousness is a well-organized logical argument for considering the fish as a sentient being. This becomes more important for animal ethical discussion as the fish becomes a more important and legitimate animal model for investigating animal states and traits associated with higher levels of behavior such as learning and memory.


The Emotional Brain Of Fish, Sonia Rey Planellas Jan 2017

The Emotional Brain Of Fish, Sonia Rey Planellas

Animal Sentience

Woodruff (2017) analyzes structural homologies and functional equivalences between the brains of mammals and fish to understand where sentience and social cognition might reside in teleosts. He compares neuroanatomical, neurophysiological and behavioural correlates. I discuss current advances in the study of fish cognitive abilities and emotions, and advocate an evolutionary approach to the underlying basis of sentience in teleosts.


Studying Dog Emotion Beyond Expression And Without Concern For Feeling, Peter F. Cook Jan 2017

Studying Dog Emotion Beyond Expression And Without Concern For Feeling, Peter F. Cook

Animal Sentience

Studies of dog emotion have focused on the expression of social emotion, either because this is taken to suggest human-like feeling states in dogs or because it has been the most accessible signal of dog emotional processing. I argue for an approach grounded in affective neuroscience, relying on direct measures of physiology across different contexts. This work may be particularly fertile in exploring social emotion in the dog, not because dogs necessarily share human emotional states, but because they are unique in having likely evolved to fit a human social niche.


Mind And Life: Is The Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception Of Nature False?, Martin Zwick Dec 2016

Mind And Life: Is The Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception Of Nature False?, Martin Zwick

Martin Zwick

A partial review of Thomas Nagel's book, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist NeoDarwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False is used to articulate some systems-theoretic ideas about the challenge of understanding subjective experience. The article accepts Nagel' s view that reductionist materialism fails as an approach to this challenge, but argues that seeking an explanation of mind based on emergence is more plausible than one based on panpsychism, which Nagel favors. However, the article proposes something similar to Nagel's neutral monism by positing a hierarchy of information processes that span the domains of matter, life, and ...


Still Wondering How Flesh Can Feel, Gwen J. Broude Dec 2016

Still Wondering How Flesh Can Feel, Gwen J. Broude

Animal Sentience

Reber believes he has simplified Chalmers’s “hard problem” of consciousness by arguing that subjectivity is an inherent feature of biological forms. His argument rests on the related notions of continuity of mind and gradual accretion of capacities across evolutionary time. These notions need to be defended, not just asserted. Because Reber minimizes the differences in mental faculties among species across evolutionary time, it becomes easier to assert, and perhaps believe, that sentience is already present in early biological forms. The more explicit we are about the differences among these mental faculties and the differences across species, the less persuasive ...


Reber’S Caterpillar Offers No Help, Carl Safina Dec 2016

Reber’S Caterpillar Offers No Help, Carl Safina

Animal Sentience

Reber’s target article “Caterpillars, consciousness and the origins of mind” seems only to shift but not to address the question of where the mind is and how minds occur.



Resolving The Hard Problem And Calling For A Small Miracle, Arthur S. Reber Nov 2016

Resolving The Hard Problem And Calling For A Small Miracle, Arthur S. Reber

Animal Sentience

With the exception of the commentary by Key, the commentaries on Reber have a common feature: the commenters feel, with varying levels of enthusiasm, that there is at least some virtue in the core assumption of the Cellular Basis of Consciousness (CBC) theory that consciousness (or subjectivity or sentience) accompanies the earliest forms of life. The model has two important entailments: (a) it resolves the (in)famous Hard Problem by redirecting the search for the biochemical foundations of sentience away from human consciousness; and (b) it reduces the need for an emergentist miracle to a far simpler scale than is ...


No Help On The Hard Problem, Derek Ball Nov 2016

No Help On The Hard Problem, Derek Ball

Animal Sentience

The hard problem of consciousness is to explain why certain physical states are conscious: why do they feel the way they do, rather than some other way or no way at all? Arthur Reber (2016) claims to solve the hard problem. But he does not: even if we grant that amoebae are conscious, we can ask why such organisms feel the way they do, and Reber’s theory provides no answer. Still, Reber’s theory may be methodologically useful: we do not yet have a satisfactory theory of consciousness, but perhaps the study of simple minds is a way to ...


Unconscious Higher-Order Thoughts (Hots) As Pre-Reflective Self-Awareness?, Rocco J. Gennaro Nov 2016

Unconscious Higher-Order Thoughts (Hots) As Pre-Reflective Self-Awareness?, Rocco J. Gennaro

Animal Sentience

Rowlands argues that many nonhuman animals are “persons,” contrary to the prevailing orthodoxy which rests on a mistaken conception of the kind of self-awareness relevant to personhood. He argues that self-awareness bifurcates into two importantly different forms — reflective self-awareness and pre-reflective self-awareness — and that many animals can have the latter, which is sufficient for personhood. I agree that there is good reason to think that many animals can have pre-reflective self-awareness, but I think Rowlands is mistaken about its nature. His account runs the risk of leading to an infinite regress objection, and his notion of pre-reflective self-awareness actually sounds ...


Insects: Still Looking Like Zombies, Christopher S. Hill Oct 2016

Insects: Still Looking Like Zombies, Christopher S. Hill

Animal Sentience

In arguing that insect brains are capable of sentience, Klein & Barron rely heavily on Bjorn Merker’s claim that activity in the human mid-brain is sufficient for conscious experience. I criticize Merker’s claim by pointing out that the behaviors supported by midbrain activity are much more primitive than the ones that appear to depend on consciousness. I raise a similar objection to Klein & Barron’s contention that insect behaviors are similar to behaviors that manifest consciousness in human beings. The similarity is weak. I also respond to the related view that integrative activity in mid-brain structures is sufficient to ...


The Pribram – Bohm Hypothesis Part Ii: The Physiology Of Consciousness, Shelli R. Joye Sep 2016

The Pribram – Bohm Hypothesis Part Ii: The Physiology Of Consciousness, Shelli R. Joye

CONSCIOUSNESS: Ideas and Research for the Twenty-First Century

A physiology of consciousness is elaborated, based upon implications of the Pribram-Bohm hypothesis (developed in Part I of this series). The model presented here is in sharp contrast to the prevailing conviction among neuroscientists that consciousness will eventually be discovered to be a physiological epiphenomenon of neuronal electrical impulses firing in the brain. In contrast, the Pribram-Bohm theory holds that consciousness, inherent in what Bohm views cosmologically as “the Whole,” manifests as a dynamic conscious energy resonance bridging the explicate space-time domain with the nonlocal, transcendent flux domain termed the “implicate order.” Presented in Part I, the Pribram-Bohm hypothesis posits ...


Growth And Happiness In The Human Personality, Rien Havens, Allan Combs Sep 2016

Growth And Happiness In The Human Personality, Rien Havens, Allan Combs

CONSCIOUSNESS: Ideas and Research for the Twenty-First Century

This paper explores stages and styles of meaning making in a population at Kegan’s (1982) developmental levels 3 through 5. It is a qualitative study of the relationship between adult personality development and how individuals speak about meaning and well-being in their lives. Nineteen participants ranging widely in age and socioeconomic class were selected informally through connections with the researchers, and snowball sampling. They were chosen from an original group of 50, based on informal interviews suggesting that they had achieved Kegan’s developmental levels of “Socialized Mind” (stage 3), or especially “Self-Authoring Mind” (stage 4) or “Self-Transforming Mind ...


Consciousness: Where We Are At, Imants Barušs Sep 2016

Consciousness: Where We Are At, Imants Barušs

CONSCIOUSNESS: Ideas and Research for the Twenty-First Century

It is useful every couple of years to take a bird’s eye view of consciousness studies and reflect on what we see. When I look, I still see two streams, one of which is the social and political framework for the study of consciousness, and the other of which is the substance of what we know about consciousness. The former is still largely defined by the extent to which the scientific study of consciousness has been freed from a materialist agenda. The latter includes recent research into the clarity of cognitive functioning in the absence of sufficient neurological support ...


How Could Consciousness Emerge From Adaptive Functioning?, Max Velmans Sep 2016

How Could Consciousness Emerge From Adaptive Functioning?, Max Velmans

Animal Sentience

The sudden appearance of consciousness that Reber posits in creatures with flexible cell walls and motility rather than non-flexible cells walls and no motility involves an evolutionary discontinuity. This kind of “miracle” is required by all “discontinuity” theories of consciousness. To avoid miraculous emergence, one may need to consider continuity theories, which accept that different forms of consciousness and material functioning co-evolve but assume the existence of consciousness to be primal in the way that matter and energy are assumed to be primal in physics.


Beginnings: Physics, Sentience And Luca, Carolyn A. Ristau Sep 2016

Beginnings: Physics, Sentience And Luca, Carolyn A. Ristau

Animal Sentience

According to Reber’s model, Cellular Basis of Consciousness (CBC), sentience had its origins in a unicellular organism and is an inherent property of living, mobile organic forms. He argues by analogy to basic physical forces which he considers to be inherent properties of matter; I suggest that they are instead the stuff of scientific investigation in physics. I find no convincing argument that sentience had to begin in endogenously mobile cells, a criterial attribute of the originator cell(s)for sentience according to CBC. Non-endogenously mobile cells, (i.e., plants or precursors) in a moving environment would suffice. Despite ...


Subjective Experience In Insects: Definitions And Other Difficulties, Shelley Adamo Aug 2016

Subjective Experience In Insects: Definitions And Other Difficulties, Shelley Adamo

Animal Sentience

Whether insects have the potential for subjective experiences depends on the definition of subjective experience. The definition used by Klein & Barron (2016) is an unusually liberal one and could be used to argue that some modern robots have subjective experiences. From an evolutionary perspective, the additional neurons needed to produce subjective experiences will be proportionately more expensive for insects than for mammals because of the small size of the insect brain. This greater cost could weaken selection for such traits. Minimally, it may be premature to assume that small neuronal number is unimportant in determining the capacity for consciousness.


Bacteria And The Cellular Basis Of Consciousness, Michael L. Woodruff Aug 2016

Bacteria And The Cellular Basis Of Consciousness, Michael L. Woodruff

Animal Sentience

According to Reber’s theory, the Cellular Basis of Consciousness (CBC), sentience originates as bio-sensitivity in unicellular organisms. For this reason, Reber regards sentience as evolutionarily foundational. Many bacteria show chemotaxis and, thus, according to CBC, they are sentient. Analysis of the genetic mechanisms underlying bacterial chemotaxis indicates that sentience has no explanatory power in this case. Genetic analysis also fails to show species continuity underlying bio-sensitivity in bacteria and bio-sensitivity in species with nervous systems, so it does not seem that sentience is evolutionary foundational. CBC is rejected on these grounds.


Is Cortex Necessary?, Sean Allen-Hermanson Aug 2016

Is Cortex Necessary?, Sean Allen-Hermanson

Animal Sentience

A key contention of Klein & Barron (2016) is that consciousness does not depend on cortical structures. A critical appraisal suggests they have overestimated the strength of their evidence.


Cephalopods Are Best Candidates For Invertebrate Consciousness, Jennifer A. Mather, Claudio Carere Jul 2016

Cephalopods Are Best Candidates For Invertebrate Consciousness, Jennifer A. Mather, Claudio Carere

Animal Sentience

Insects might have been the first invertebrates to evolve sentience, but cephalopods were the first invertebrates to gain scientific recognition for it.


Caterpillars, Consciousness And The Origins Of Mind, Arthur S. Reber Jul 2016

Caterpillars, Consciousness And The Origins Of Mind, Arthur S. Reber

Animal Sentience

A novel framework for the origins of consciousness and mind, the Cellular Basis of Consciousness (CBC), is presented. The model is based on a simple, perhaps radical axiom: subjectivity is an inherent feature of particular kinds of organic form. Experiential states, including those denoted as "mind" and "consciousness," are present in the most primitive species. The model has several conceptual and empirical virtues, among them: (a) it (re)solves the problem of how minds are created by brains ─ also known as the "Hard Problem" (Chalmers 1995) ─ by revealing that the apparent difficulty results from a category error, (b) it redirects ...


On The Significance Of Psychodynamic Discourse For The Field Of Consciousness Studies, Robin S. Brown Mar 2016

On The Significance Of Psychodynamic Discourse For The Field Of Consciousness Studies, Robin S. Brown

CONSCIOUSNESS: Ideas and Research for the Twenty-First Century

Despite the obvious confluence of concerns between psychodynamic psychology and the emerging field of consciousness studies, the extent to which psychodynamic thinking has factored into the consciousness literature has been limited. With widespread interest in “the unconscious” having significantly diminished, the present paper asks what might be implied in the shift towards the notion of “consciousness”—what about this cross-disciplinary designation has come to attract attention not only within the academic world, but also in the popular press? That the term does indeed invite contributions from a variety of disciplines makes the field both a meeting space, and a battleground ...


Consciousness Studies – An Overview, Allan Combs Mar 2016

Consciousness Studies – An Overview, Allan Combs

CONSCIOUSNESS: Ideas and Research for the Twenty-First Century

This essay is a survey of the field of consciousness studies, its history, scope, and a little about its future. It’s principal focus is on Western thinking about consciousness beginning in classical times and continuing down to the present. It highlights and briefly describes major streams of thought including ideas from ancient Greece, German Idealism, British Empiricism, 20th century European phenomenology, and important contemporary areas of research and scholarship. These include American pragmatism, developmental psychology, transpersonalism, analytic philosophy, computationalism, neural networks, and physics. The essay also briefly explores possible future trends in the study of consciousness.


Reembodying, Human Consciousness In The Earth, John Briggs Mar 2016

Reembodying, Human Consciousness In The Earth, John Briggs

CONSCIOUSNESS: Ideas and Research for the Twenty-First Century

For the last 20,000 years or so the dominant mode of human consciousness has been one that divides reality into subjects and objects, and focuses on human desires and needs. This anthropocentric mode of consciousness has invented religions, built civilizations, amassed knowledge, and developed technology and science. It has also disembodied us from the Earth and led to the Anthropocene Era. Still with us is another mode of human consciousness that arguably once existed in a balance with the anthropocentric mode during our long hunter-gatherer, Paleolithic sojourn. This holistic, integrative mode of consciousness experiences the Earth as a mother ...


The Pribram – Bohm Hypothesis, Shelli R. Joye Mar 2016

The Pribram – Bohm Hypothesis, Shelli R. Joye

CONSCIOUSNESS: Ideas and Research for the Twenty-First Century

A holoflux theory of consciousness as modulated energy is hypothesized and shown to support both local and non-local properties. This thesis emerges from an integral evaluation of evidence drawn from: (1) the holonomic mind/brain theories of Karl Pribram, (2) the ontological interpretation of quantum theory by David Bohm. Applying an integral methodology to superimpose and correlate seemingly disparate concepts from among these sources and others, a composite-theory emerges, a “holoflux” theory of consciousness, after the term favored by Karl Pribram to describe David Bohm’s “holomovement” between an explicate order andan implicate order. This Pribram–Bohm composite holoflux theory ...