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2016

Consciousness

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Full-Text Articles in Philosophy

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.


Understanding Consciousness—Have We Cut The Gordian Knot Or Not? (Integration, Unity, And The Self), Robert Van Gulick Aug 2016

Understanding Consciousness—Have We Cut The Gordian Knot Or Not? (Integration, Unity, And The Self), Robert Van Gulick

Philosophic Exchange

No abstract provided.


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 ...


The Moral Status And Welfare Of Patients Diagnosed As Vegetative With Covert Awareness, Mackenzie S. Graham Jul 2016

The Moral Status And Welfare Of Patients Diagnosed As Vegetative With Covert Awareness, Mackenzie S. Graham

Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Several neuroimaging studies have demonstrated that a minority of patients diagnosed as being in the vegetative state are able to modulate their brain activity in response to the commands of researchers, thus demonstrating that they are ‘covertly aware.’ I examine the moral significance of this discovery, with a specific focus on the implications for patient welfare. I argue that the presence of awareness in these patients is important because it allows for the presence of sentience—the capacity for suffering and enjoyment—which I argue is a sufficient condition for moral status. Insofar as these patients have moral status, their ...


Do Insects Feel Pain?, Helen Tiffin Jun 2016

Do Insects Feel Pain?, Helen Tiffin

Animal Studies Journal

This paper briefly considers the broad social and scientific background to research into the possibility of insects experiencing pain sensations analogous to our own. There has been increasing use of insects in pain experiments generally, as ethical constraints on the use of other animals increased through the last century. The ways in which scientists have tackled the question of insect pain, particularly in trying to distinguish between nociception and pain are then selectively summarised. These include opioid, hormonal, evolutionary, neurophysiological and behavioural approaches, as well as experiments designed to elucidate the difficult area of insect consciousness, from the 1980s to ...


Fundamental Awareness: A Framework For Integrating Science, Philosophy And Metaphysics, Neil D. Theise, Menas Kafatos May 2016

Fundamental Awareness: A Framework For Integrating Science, Philosophy And Metaphysics, Neil D. Theise, Menas Kafatos

Mathematics, Physics, and Computer Science Faculty Articles and Research

The ontologic framework of Fundamental Awareness proposed here assumes that non-dual Awareness is foundational to the universe, not arising from the interactions or structures of higher level phenomena. The framework allows comparison and integration of views from the three investigative domains concerned with understanding the nature of consciousness: science, philosophy, and metaphysics. In this framework, Awareness is the underlying reality, not reducible to anything else. Awareness and existence are the same. As such, the universe is non-material, self-organizing throughout, a holarchy of complementary, process driven, recursive interactions. The universe is both its own first observer and subject. Considering the world ...


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.


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 ...


Premises Of A Natural Science Of Consciousness, Ervin Laszlo Mar 2016

Premises Of A Natural Science Of Consciousness, Ervin Laszlo

CONSCIOUSNESS: Ideas and Research for the Twenty-First Century

According to the mainstream of modern science, there cannot be a natural science of consciousness because consciousness does not actually exist in nature. It is a product or by-product of the workings of the brain. There is a natural science of brain and the nervous system, for these are bona fide elements of the world, but there cannot be a natural science of a phenomenon of which the very existence is in question. In the prevalent view con2sciousness is something that happens when neurons fire in the brain. This is said to be confirmed by experience. There is no consciousness ...


Presence And The Paradox Of Love, Joanne Burtch Mar 2016

Presence And The Paradox Of Love, Joanne Burtch

CONSCIOUSNESS: Ideas and Research for the Twenty-First Century

Spiritual experiences often seem unrelated to the intellectual orientation of science. However, some discussion of the laboratory study of spiritual practice does attempt to include the mystery and the human experience in its dialogue. An exploration of the paradox of love demonstrates how it might be possible to find a relationship between the scientific understanding of spirituality and the profundity of spiritual experience.


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 ...


Comments On Empirical And Epistemological Implications Of An Enactive Sensorimotor Contingency Theory, Kristoffer Moody Feb 2016

Comments On Empirical And Epistemological Implications Of An Enactive Sensorimotor Contingency Theory, Kristoffer Moody

Puget Sound Undergraduate Philosophy Conference

Comments on "Empirical and Epistemological Implications of an Enactive Sensorimotor Contingency Theory" by Celine Geday.


Empirical And Epistemological Implications Of An Enactive Sensorimotor Contingency Theory, Celine Geday Feb 2016

Empirical And Epistemological Implications Of An Enactive Sensorimotor Contingency Theory, Celine Geday

Puget Sound Undergraduate Philosophy Conference

By virtue of Kevin O’Regan and Alva Noë’s enactive sensorimotor contingency theory, and its central tenets- perception is constituted by mastery of occurrent sensorimotor contingencies used for thought and action-guidance- the theory suggests the resolution of the explanatory gap problem and provides arguments to dismantle representationalist research programs. Central objections to O’Regan and Noë’s sensorimotor contingency theory are addressed: (1) synaesthetic visual color-perception and the problem of non-identical ratios of qualitative experience from peripheral inputs (2) sensorimotor contingency theory implies propositional knowledge- consequently perceptual consciousness is state-based. Temporal coupling shows synaesthesia does not have to be ...


Why Fish Do Not Feel Pain, Brian Key Jan 2016

Why Fish Do Not Feel Pain, Brian Key

Animal Sentience

Only humans can report feeling pain. In contrast, pain in animals is typically inferred on the basis of nonverbal behaviour. Unfortunately, these behavioural data can be problematic when the reliability and validity of the behavioural tests are questionable. The thesis proposed here is based on the bioengineering principle that structure determines function. Basic functional homologies can be mapped to structural homologies across a broad spectrum of vertebrate species. For example, olfaction depends on olfactory glomeruli in the olfactory bulbs of the forebrain, visual orientation responses depend on the laminated optic tectum in the midbrain, and locomotion depends on pattern generators ...


Should Fish Feel Pain? A Plant Perspective, František Baluška Jan 2016

Should Fish Feel Pain? A Plant Perspective, František Baluška

Animal Sentience

Key (2016) claims fish that fish do not feel pain because they lack the necessary neuronal architecture: their responses to noxious stimuli, according to Key, are executed automatically without any feelings. However, as pointed out by many of his commentators, this conclusion is not convincing. Plants might provide some clues. Plants are not usually thought to be very active behaviorally, but the evidence suggests otherwise. Moreover, in stressful situations, plants produce numerous chemicals that have painkilling and anesthetic properties. Finally, plants, when treated with anesthetics, cannot execute active behaviors such as touch-induced leaf movements or rapid trap closures after localizing ...