Philosophy Dictionary of Arguments

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Consciousness, philosophy: The experience of differences along with a knowledge about alternatives as opposed to purely automatic responses. See also intentionality, identity theory, other minds.

Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

Author Item Summary Meta data

Ned Block on Consciousness - Dictionary of Arguments

II 458
Consciousness/Block: is a mixed concept of "phenomenal consciousness" (p-consciousness/terminology) and "access-consciousness" (a-consciousness).
Def a-consciousness/Terminology/Block: Being aware of a fact means that the information for rational inferring is available. (Functional concept)
Consciousness/Burge: (VsBlock): p-consciousness Prerequisite for a-consciousness.
Phenomenality is not the same as consciousness! Phenomenal states can also be unconscious.
II 524
Blindsight/Block: Patients who cannot see in part of their visual field can still give true verbal descriptions upon request.
      This suggests that consciousness must have a function that is effective in survival, reporting, and behavioral control.
II 530
Access-consciousness/Block: I call its basis the information-processing function of the phenomenal consciousness in >Schacter's model. ((s) Part or basis as a counterpart).
II 531
Def p-consciousness/phenomenal consciousness/Block: experience. It cannot be described non-circularly! But that's no shortcoming!
p-conscious properties are distinguished from any cognitive, intentional, or functional property. Although functionalism is wrong with respect to p-consciousness, functionalism can accept many of my points.
II 535
Def a-consciousness/access consciousness/Block: a state is a-conscious if by virtue of being in the state a representation of its content
1) is inferentially unbound, i.e. is available as a premise for considering
2) is available for rational control of actions
3) is available for rational language control (not necessary, even chimpanzees can be p-conscious).
      p-consciousness and a-consciousness interact: Background can become foreground. E.g. feeling the shirt feels at the neck.
Fallacy/Block: it is a mistake, however, to go unnoticed from one consciousness to the other.
Mistake: To conclude from the example blindsight that it is the function of the P consciousness to enable rational control of action.
p-consciousness/Block: not functional! Sensations.
a-consciousness/Block: functional. Typical: "propositional attitudes".
Pain/Block: its representational content is too primitive to play a role in inferring. Pain is not conceptually mediated, after all, dogs can also feel pain.
Summary: p-consciousness can be consciousness of and consciousness of does not need to be a-consciousness.
II 555
1) Cultural construct!
2) You cannot have consciousness without having the concept of consciousness.
3) Consciousness is a "cerebral celebrity": only those contents are conscious that are persistent, that monopolize the resources long enough to achieve certain typical and "symptomatic" effects.
Ad 1) this is a merging of several concepts of consciousness.
2) Consciousness cannot be a cultural product.
Also probably not the a-consciousness: many lower creatures have it, even without such a concept.
Ad 3) But that is a biological fact and not a cultural one.
II 568
Fallacy/BlockVsSearle: Question: why the thirsty blindsight patient in the example does not reach for the water: he lacks both p-consciousness and a-consciousness. That's right.
But it is a mistake to go from a function of the machinery of a-consciousness to any function of p-consciousness.
     Fallacy: to prematurely draw the conclusion that P consciousness has a certain function from the premise that "consciousness" is missing (without being clear what kind of consciousness).

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Block I
N. Block
Consciousness, Function, and Representation: Collected Papers, Volume 1 (Bradford Books) Cambridge 2007

Block II
Ned Block
"On a confusion about a function of consciousness"
Bewusstein, Thomas Metzinger, Paderborn/München/Wien/Zürich 1996

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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2021-09-20
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