The Subjective Brain – a neurophilosophy book available on the web

Pete Mandik, an associate professor of philosophy and co-ordinator of the Cognitive Science Laboratory at William Paterson University in New Jersey, has written a book called The Subjective Brain, and is putting the draft chapters on his website, one at a time:

We don’t need science in order to tell us that we are conscious or aware. But science suggests that we are conscious largely due to our brains. This later idea – that conscious states just are certain brain states (hereafter, the Identity Thesis) – is the main aim of this book to defend.

Conscious states have certain properties – their phenomenal character – in virtue of which there is “something it is like” to be in that state. When I have a conscious perception of a cup of coffee there is, presumably, something it is like for me to have that perception and, for all I know, what it is like for you to have a conscious perception of a cup of coffee is quite different. What makes a conscious state have “something it’s like” to be in that state?

Given the centrality of these questions, we will have several occasions to return to them throughout the book. In brief summary they are:

The Question of State Consciousness:
In what consists the difference between mental states that are conscious and mental states that are unconscious?

The Question of Transitive Consciousness:
When one has a conscious mental state, what is one thereby conscious of?

The Question of Phenomenal Character:
When one has a conscious state, in what consists the properties in virtue of which there is something it is like for one to be in that state?

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