Actual Consciousness Lecture: Database,
Physicalities, Theory, Criteria, No Unique Mystery At All
Brief Abstract The theory Actualism is a long way from what to me are those two big
fairy tales still being told. One is that all consciousness really is just
objectively or scientifically physical stuff in your head, soggy grey matter as
some say, meat, or, as many others say more piously, just wondrously complex
but still only ordinay neural networks of cells. The other fairy tale is that
all consciousness is ghostly stuff, which it is in the old, old theory of
mind-brain dualism, mind and brain being two different things, and also in
something newer but hopeless in the same way, something in most cognitive
science. That is the theory of abstract functionalism -- events or states
happening somehow above brains, connected causally with other such events or
states, but, as you might say, existing only in thought. So much for a bit of
anticipation of where we are going.
Fuller Abstract (1) Disagreement about consciousness is largely owed to no adequate
initial clarification of the subject, to people in fact answering different
questions, despite five leading ideas of consciousness.book Actual Consciousness pp 1-50 (2) But to sum up a wide figurative
database, your being conscious in the primary ordinary sense is initially adequately
clarified as something’s being actual
– clarified as actual consciousness. Philosophical
method like the scientific method includes transition from figurativeness to literal
theory or analysis.51-84 (3) From many failing existing
theories, including the existing physicalisms and abstract functionalism, criteria
for a new theory are derivable.86-148 (4) All of the five leading ideas, and actuality with respect to
consciousness, and also the criteria prompt or require a specification of the objective physical world. This is
available by way of such characteristics as spatiality, lawfulness, being in
science, connections with perception, and so on.149-189 (5) Actualism, the new literal theory or analysis of actual consciousness,
deriving from the clarificatory database and the ordinary logic of philosophy,
is that what is actual with perceptual consciousness is only a world out there around you,
nowhere else at all, often a room.190-215 Your consciousness in the case of perception is
only the existence of a subjective physical world out there, nothing else.190-215
Externalism without representation. (6) The world's being actual is its
being subjectively physical, its having counterpart characteristics of those of
the objective physical world, partly different.216-248 (7) Cognitive and affective
consciousness, various kinds of thinking and wanting, however, are internal or
cranial -- representations-with-attitude.249-308 (8) They differ from the
representations that are lines of type, sounds etc. by being actual, being
subjectively physical but differently so from the subjective physical worlds of
perceptual consciousness.309-325 Physicality in general, then,
consists in objective and in subjective physicalities.328-9 (9) Yes, such objections and questions
as one about zombies are raised by Actualism – which objections and questions
can be met. (10) Yes, Actualism has
further merits. It saves us from pessimisms about understanding consciousness. There
is no want of understanding of the mind-consciousness connection (Nagel), no
known unique hard problem of consciousness (Chalmers), no insuperable
difficulty having to do with physicality and the history of science (Chomsky),
no arguable ground at all for mysterianism (McGinn).(326-368) Actualism
also liberates consciousness science from a commoner hesitancy about
consciousness. It is a fertile theory, indeed a workplace. Actual consciousness
is a right subject and is a
necessary part of any inquiry
whatever into consciousness.
1 NEED FOR ADEQUATE INITIAL
CLARIFICATION OF CONSCIOUSNESS? FIVE LEADING IDEAS
You are conscious just in seeing the room
you are in, conscious in an ordinary sense. That is not to say what is
different and more, that you are seeing or perceiving the room, with all that
can be taken to involve, including facts about your retinas and visual cortex.
To say you are conscious just in seeing this room is not itself to say, either,
what is often enough true, that you are also attending to the room or
something in it, fixing your attention on it.
You are now conscious, secondly, in having
certain thoughts, about what you are hearing.
Likely you are conscious, thirdly, in having
certain feelings, maybe the hope that everything is going to be clear as a bell
in the next hour, maybe in intending to say so if it isn't.
What are those three states, events, facts
or things? What is their nature? What is the best analysis or theory of them?
What is what we can call perceptual consciousness, cognitive consciousness, and
There is also another question, as
pressing. What is common to the three states, events or whatever? What is this
consciousness in general? What is the kind of state, event or whatever of
which perceptual, cognitive, and affective consciousness are three parts,
sides, or groups of elements? As I shall be remarking later in glancing at
existing theories of consciousness, the known main ones try to answer only the
general question. But can you really get a good general answer without getting
a particular answer or two?
These are the questions of a line of
inquiry and argument in a large book which sure asks for a very dogged reader (Honderich, 2014), a book of which this lecture is
the short story. We can ask the three particular questions and the general
question, as we shall, in mainstream philosophy. That in my view is certainly
not ownership of, but a greater concentration than that of science on, the
logic of ordinary intelligence: (i) clarity, usually analysis, (ii) consistency
and validity, (iii) completeness, (iv) generalness. Science has more to
do. Is it safe enough to say, then, that philosophy is thinking about facts as
distinct from getting them?
Another preliminary. There are ordinary
and there are other related concepts of things, ordinary and other senses of
words -- say stipulated or technical ones. Let us ask, as
you may have taken me to have been implying already, what it is to be
conscious generally speaking in the primary ordinary sense, in what a
good dictionary also calls the core meaning of the word -- and what it
is to be conscious in each of the three ways in the primary ordinary sense. Do
you ask if that is the right question? Assume it is and wait for an answer in
We have what John Searle rightly calls a
common sense definition (1992,
83-4; 2002, 7, 21), something he rightly calls unanalytic, of what
seems to be this ordinary consciousness -- presumably must be of ordinary
consciousness since it is common sense. This consciousness in the
definition is states of awareness that we are in except in dreamless
sleep. That has the virtue of including dreaming in consciousness, which
surprisingly is not a virtue of all definitions, notably an eccentric
Wittgensteinian one (Malcolm,
1962). But how much more virtue does Searle’s common sense definition have? Awareness
obviously needs defining as much as consciousness. Certainly there seems
to be uninformative circularity there.
Each of us also has something better than
a common sense definition. Each of us has a hold on her or his individual consciousness. That is, each
of us can recall now the nature of something a moment ago, perceptual
consciousness of the room, or a thought, or a feeling. I guess that is or is
part of what has been called introspection, and doubted because it was taken as
a kind of inner seeing, and because of people or subjects in psychology
laboratories being asked to do more with it than they could. Forget all that.
We can be confident right now that each of us can recall that event or state of
consciousness a moment ago, say the look of a thing or a passing thought or an
urge, say of psychology laboratories.
There are lesser and greater pessimisms
about our answering the general question of consciousness. Greater pessimists
have included Noam Chomsky (1975, 1980, otherwise unpublished material in Lycan 2003b),
Thomas Nagel (1974,
1998, 2015), David Chalmers (1995a, 1995b, 1996) -- and Colin
1991b, 1999a, 2002, 2004a, 2012), who began by saying we have no
more chance of getting straight about consciousness than chimps have of doing physics,
but hemended up by seeming to say a lot less.
Here is a first question for you, a first
piece of this lecture. Are those pessimisms and also, more importantly, the
great seeming disagreement about what consciousness is, a pile of conflicting
theories in philosophy, neuroscience, cognitive science and psychology, owed at
least significantly to one fact? Are they owed to the fact that there has not
been agreement on what is being talked about, no adequate initial clarification
of the subject matter, but people talking past one another, not asking the same
question? In a sense, of course, that is not disagreement at all, but a kind of
So far and still more hereafter, by the
way, this lecture is indeed a sketch of a sketch – a bird’s-eye view with
the bird flying high and fast. I worry that someone once said to Professor
Quine about Karl Popper that Popper lectured with a broad brush, to which Quine
mused in reply that maybe he thought with one too.
press on anyway, I say there are five leading ideas of consciousness. They are
about qualia, something it's like to be a thing, subjectivity, intentionality,
and phenomenality. Fly over them with me.
Qualia Dan Dennett (1992) says qualia are the ways things
seem to us, the particular personal, subjective qualities of experience at
the moment. Nagel (1974)
says qualia are features of mental states. Very unlike Dennett, he says it
seems impossible to analyse them in objective physical terms, make sense of them
as objectively physical. Ned Block (1995a, 380-1, 408) has it that they include not only experiential
properties of sensations, feelings, perceptions, wants, and emotions. They are
also such properties of thoughts, anyway our thoughts that are different
from the sort of thing taken to be the functioning of unconscious computers --
computation or bare computation (1995a, 380-1, 408). Others disagree in several ways with all that.
Do we get an adequate initial
clarification of the subject of consciousness here? No. There is only what
you can call a conflicted consensus about what qualia are to be taken to
be. In this consensus, worse, one thing that is very widely assumed or
agreed. Qualia are qualities of consciousness, not what has the qualities,
consciousness itself, maybe its basic or a more basic quality. Another
thing mostly agreed is by itself fatal to the idea of an adequate initial
clarification -- that qualia are only part of consciousness. There's the other
part, which is propositional attitudes - related or primarily related to
my cognitive consciousness.
Something it's like to be a thing
That idea of Nagel in his paper 'What It's Like To Be a Bat' (1974), however stimulating an idea, as
indeed it has been, is surely circular. Searle in effect points to the
fact when he says we are to understand the words in such a way that there is
nothing it is like to be a shingle on a roof (1992, 132; 1999, 42). What we are being told, surely,
or what is implied, is that what it is for something to be conscious is for
there is something it is like for that thing to be conscious. What else
could we being told? Also, you can worry, no reality is assigned to
consciousness here. Can there conceivably be reality without what Nagel
declined to provide in his paper, an assurance of physicality?
Traditional or familiar
subjectivity Here, whatever better might be done about
subjectivity, and really has to be done, and as we can try to do, there is
circularity. Consciousness is what is of a subject, which thing is
understood as a bearer or possessor of
consciousness. There is also obscurity. Further, a subject of this kind is
a metaphysical self. Hume famously saw off such a thing, didn't he, when he
reported that he peered into himself and could not espy his? (1888, 252).
Intentionality. The idea was
brought into circulation by the German psychologist Brentano in the 19th
Century and has as its contemporary defender and developer Tim Crane. It is
sometimes better spoken of as aboutness, where that is explained somehow
as also being the puzzling character of lines of type, spoken words
and images. There is the great problem that when intentionality is made
clear enough by way of likeness to such things, it is evident that it is only
part of consciousness. As is often remarked, it leaves out aches and objectless
depression. Crane argues otherwise, valiantly but to me unpersuasively (1998a; 2001, 4-6; 2003, 33).
Phenomenality. Block himself speaks
of the concept of consciousness as being hybrid or mongrel, and leaves it open
whether he himself is speaking of consciousness partly in an ordinary sense
(2007h, 159, 180-1). He does concern himself, certainly, with what he calls phenomenal
consciousness, as does David Chalmers (1996). This is said by Block, not
wonderfully usefully, to be 'just experience', just 'awareness'. Circularity. I
add in passing that he takes there to be another kind of consciousness, access
consciousness, which most of the rest of us recognise as an old and known
subject, what we still call unconscious mentality, only
dispositions, maybe related brain-workings. Here, I remark in passing,
is a first and striking instance of philosophers or scientists definitely not
meaning the same thing in speaking of consciousness as other philosophers or
scientists. Nagel sure wasn’t on about access consciousness -- or what has it
as a proper part. How many more instances do we need in support of that idea
about what disagreement about consciousness is largely owed to?
A last remark or two about the five ideas.
It is notable that Chalmers (1996,
4-6, 9-11) takes them all to come to the much the same thing,
one thing, to pick out approximately the same class of phenomena. He is not
alone in that inclination. But evidently the ideas are different. Certainly the
essential terms aren't what he calls synonyms. And is it not only the case
that none of the five ideas provides an adequate initial clarification of
consciousness, but also that a comparison of them in their striking variety
indicates immediately the absence and lack of a common subject?
2 SOMETHING'S BEING ACTUAL – A DATABASE
good for a philosopher's soul? Well, it might help out with your getting an
early idea of a lecture.
I sat at in a room in London's
Hampstead some years ago and said to myself stop reading all this madly
conflicting stuff about consciousness. You're conscious. This isn't
Quantum Theory, let alone the bafflement of moral and political truth. Just
answer the question of what your
being conscious right now is, or for a good start,
more particularly, just say what your being conscious of the room is,
conscious just in seeing the room. Not thinking about just seeing, or
attending to something in it. Not liking it or whatever. You know the answer in
some sense, don't you? You've got the hold.
The answer in my case, lucky or
unlucky, was that my being conscious was the fact of the room being there,
just the room being out there. Later on, as you will be hearing, it seemed
better to say that a room was being there.
You will be more reassured, I'm sure, to
hear that that I do not just discard all that philosophy and science of mind
just glanced at -- the five leading ideas, and a lot more. On the contrary, it
must be that there is something in it all. It's hard to have a view about the
value of consensus in philosophy, or in science, about what you can call
democracy about truth. But who can say there isn't any value at all? If you go
through the philosophy on qualia, what it's like, subjectivity, intentionality,
and phenomenality, you can get to what is the first of the main things in this
You find all those philosophers and
scientists using certain terms and locutions -- certain ideas or conceptions.
Suppose, as you very reasonably can, that they or almost all of them are
talking about consciousness in the primary ordinary sense. They think about it
in a certain way, have certain concepts, use certain language for it.
Further, and of course very importantly, this
is shared with philosophers and scientists otherwise concerned with
consciousness and with what they call the mind. I am pretty confident that
it is shared with you.
If you put together the terms and
locutions you get what we can certainly call data. You get a database. It
is that in the primary ordinary sense, in any of the three ways, your being
conscious now is the following:
the having of something, something being had -- if not in a
general sense, the general sense in which you also have ankles,
hence something being held, possessed or owned,
your seeing, thinking, wanting in the ordinary full or active sense of the verbs,
hence the experience in the sense of the experiencing of something,
something being in contact, met with, encountered, or undergone,
awareness of something in a primary sense,
something being directly or immediately in touch,
something being apparent,
deduced, inferred, posited, constructed or otherwise got from something else,
something somehow existing,
something being for something else,
something being to something,
something being in view, on view, in a point of view,
something being open, provided, supplied,
something to which there is some privileged access,
in the case of perception, there being the world as it is for something,
what at least involves an object or content,
an object or content's coming to us, straight-off,
something being given,
hence something existing and known,
something being present,
something being presented, which is different,
something being shown, revealed or manifest,
something being transparent in the sense of being unconveyed by anything else,
something clear straight-off,
something being open,
something being close,
an occurrent or event, certainly not only a disposition to later events,
something being vividly naked,
something being right there,
in the case of perception, the openness of a world.
That, I say to you, is data, and I
sure bet you it exists in other languages than English. We can await
reassurance from the Germans and no doubt even the French. Probably Latvians.
It is a database. To glance back at and compare it to the five leading
ideas, it's not a mediaeval technical term in much dispute, or a philosopher's
excellent apercu but still an apercu, or a familiar or
traditional idea or kind of common talk, or an uncertain truth based on a few
words and images, or an uncertainty about a consciousness that seems to slide
Without stopping to say more about
the database, except that in character it has to do with both existence and a
relationship, is both ontic and epistemic, we can of course note that certainly
it is figurative or even metaphorical. To say consciousness is given
is not to say it's just like money being given.
There is an equally figurative
encapsulation of it all, which I will be using. It is that being conscious in
the primary ordinary sense is something being actual – which surely or certainly
isn’t open to the objection of circularity. Remember all the detail. We can
also say that what we have is an initial conception of primary ordinary
consciousness as being actual consciousness. Can we follow in the
history of so much science by starting from but getting beyond metaphor and the
This start immediately raises two general
questions. What is actual with this consciousness? And what is it for
whatever it is to be actual? And, remembering that this consciousness
has three parts, sides or groups of elements, there are the questions of what
is actual and then what the actuality is with each of perceptual, cognitive and
So the first two criteria – of eight
-- for an adequate theory or analysis of ordinary consciousness, for a literal
account of its nature, is the theory's giving answers to those questions about
(1) what is actual and (2) what its being actual comes to. Certainly we have to
get to the absolutely literal.
We will get to better answers, however, if
we look at a few other things first.
3 FUNCTIONALISMS, DUALISMS, OTHER THEORIES
It is prudent, whether or not required by
a respect for consensus, for democracy about truth, to consider existing
dominant theories of anything. If you take the philosophy and science of
consciousness together, certainly the current philosophy and science of mind,
you must then consider abstract functionalism and its expression in
cognitive science -- computerism about consciousness and mind, which of course
might be or anyway might have been right.
Could it be that abstract functionalism is
usefully approached in a seemingly curious way, approached by way of what has
always been taken as an absolute adversary, traditional mind-brain dualism,
including spiritualism, which goes back a long way, to before Descartes? This
dualism, often taken as benighted, is the proposition that the mind is not the
brain. That, in a sentence only slightly more careful, is to the effect that
all consciousness is not physical. There are, of course, reputable and
indeed leading philosophers and scientists of mind who are in some sense
dualists. Chalmers is one (1996,
2009). There are other more metaphysically explicit dualists, including
Howard Robinson (1993,
2003, 2012). Has Block been a fellow traveller? (1995a, 2007a, 2007b)
You may excuse me saying of dualism, since
I have a lot of my own fish to fry, that it has the great recommendation of
making consciousness different in kind, which it sure is. And that it
has the great failing of making it not a reality. It shares that fatal failing with abstract functionalism.
The old metaphysics and the reigning general science of the mind fall together.
But your being conscious, rather, for a start, is something with a history that
began somewhere and will end somewhere. Who now has the nerve to say it is out
of space? It is now real. It now exists. It's a fact.
Evidently all this is bound up with the clearer and indeed dead clear truth
that consciousness has physical effects, starting with lip and arm movements.
This is only denied in Australia, or used to be, where the sun is very hot.
Elsewhere there is the axiom of the falsehood of epiphenomenalism. But,
however, to go back to the first point, as the dictionary says mind is somehow
different from matter -- or from some or much matter.
There is no more puzzle about what, in
general, abstract functionalism is, even if the elaboration of it in cognitive
science has been rich. Abstract functionalism is owed to a main premise and a
The large inspiration is that we do indeed
identify and to an extent distinguish types of things and particular things in
a certain way -- by their relations, most obviously their causes and effects.
We do this with machines like carburettors, and with our kidneys, and so on,
and should do it more with politicians and our hierarchic democracy. The
premise, more important now, is the proposition that one and the same type of
conscious state somehow goes together with or anyway turns up with different
types of neural or other physical states. This is the premise of what is called
multiple realizability. We and chimps and snakes and conceivably
computers can be in exactly the very same pain that goes with quite different
physical states. You can doubt that. I sure do, for several reasons.
own short story of abstract functionalism, my own objection, is that a
conscious state or event is itself given no reality in this theory that
allows it to be only a cause of
actions etc. It does go together with traditional dualism in this respect, and
is therefore to me as hopeless. There is a place within other and very
different theorizing for what you can call physical functionalism, which
is better, partly because it puts aside multiple realizability, which has
been too popular by half. But that too is not a subject for right now.
There are more existing theories and sorts
of theories of consciousness than dualism and abstract functionalism. Note that
like dualism and abstract functionalism, they make the nature of consciousness
uniform or at least principally or essentially or primarily uniform as,
incidentally, do the five leading ideas -- despite our own initial division of
consciousness into the perceptual, cognitive and affective kinds, sides, or
groups of elements.
My own list of existing theories and sorts
of theories has on it Non-Physical Intentionality and Supervenience, notably
the work of Jaegwon Kim (2005); Donald
Davidson's Anomalous Monism (1980);
the mentalism of much psychology and science as well as philosophy that runs
together conscious and unconscious mentality; Block's mentalism in particular;
naturalism, the dominant representational naturalism of which there are
various forms, such aspectual theories as Galen Strawson's panpsychism and
double aspect theory; Bertrand Russell's Neutral Monism; the different
physicalisms of Searle, Dennett, and of neuroscience generally; the
Higher Order Theory of Locke and David Rosenthal; the audacity of the
Churchlands seemingly to the effect that it will turn out in a future
neuroscience that there aren't any beliefs or desires (1986, 1988); the wonderful elusiveness of
quantum theory consciousness, which is certainly a case of the explanation of
the obscure by the more obscure; and the previous externalisms -- Hilary Putnam
Tyler Burge (2007,
2010), Alva Noe (2006,
2009a), and Andy Clark (2013),
these involving both external facts and representation.
I save you consideration of and incidental
objections to these existing theories of consciousness, and say only a few
One is that while all of these theories
are crucially or at least centrally concerned one way or another with the
physical, physical reality, they do not slow down to think about it. They
do not come close to really considering what it is, going over the ground. Was
that reasonable? Is it reasonable? Shouldn't we get
onto the ground, walk around there for a while? Be pedestrian?
And just in passing, for the last time, do
these theories concern themselves with the same question? For a start, was
Non-Physical Supervenience about the same question of consciousness that
representational naturalism or neuroscientific physicalism was about?
A third thing is important, indeed
crucial, for anyone who believes, as I do, despite such original tries as
Frank Jackson's (1986),
there are no proofs of large things in philosophy, which is instead a matter
of comparative judgement between alternatives. The thing is that a good look
through those various theories gives us more criteria for a decent theory or
analysis of consciousness -- additional to answers to the questions you’ve
heard of (1) what is actual and (2) what the actuality comes to. Also criteria
additional to two others already announced to you, that a decent theory of
consciousness will indeed have to recognize and explain (3) the difference
of consciousness from all else and (4) the reality of consciousness and
the connected fact of its being causally efficacious -- maybe several-sided
difference and several-sided reality.
A further condition of adequacy is (5) something
just flown by so far in this talk -- subjectivity, some credible or
persuasive unity with respect to consciousness, something quite other than a
metaphysical self or homunculus. Another condition is (6) the three parts,
sides or kinds of elements of consciousness. It is surprising indeed that
the existing general theories of consciousness do not include in their
generality the distinctness of perceptual, cognitive and affective
consciousness, as psychology did in the past and still does in practice -- and
indeed as philosophy itself does when it is not focussed on the general
question, but, say, thinking about perception. Another requirement (7) is
that of naturalism, essentially a relation to science. A last one (8) is
of course the relation or relations of consciousness to a brain or other
basis and to behaviour and also other relations.
Something else I should provide here,
since I know where this lecture is going, is a scandalously speedy reminder of
those theories that are the previous externalisms. Putnam said meanings ain't
in the head but depend on science. Burge cogently explained by way of arthritis
in the thigh that mental states are individuated by or depend on external
facts, notably those of language. Clark argued that representation with respect
to consciousness is a matter of both internal and external facts – minds are
extended out of our heads. Noe theorizes that consciousness partly
consists in acting.
There is a radically different
externalism with respect to perceptual consciousness. One distinction is that
this consciousness is a matter of an external reality -- without any
representation of it.
4 THE OBJECTIVE PHYSICAL WORLD
To make a good start on or towards the
theory we will call Actualism, think for just a few minutes, whether or
not you now suppose this is a good idea, about the usual subject of the
physical, the objective physical world. The existing theories of consciousness,
from dualism and abstract functionalism to the externalisms, do one way or
another include presumptions about or verdicts on consciousness having to do
with physicality -- by which they always mean and usually say objective
physicality. I ask again whether they are to be judged for their still passing
by the subject. I hope so.
Anyway, having spent some time on that
database, and flown over a lot of existing uniform theories of consciousness,
and put together the criteria for an adequate theory or analysis of
consciousness, let us now spend even less time on the objective physical world,
on what it is for something to be objectively physical. If there are a few
excellent books on the subject, notably those of Herbert Feigl (1967) and Barbara Montero (1999, 2001, 2009), it is indeed hardly considered
at all by the known philosophers and scientists of consciousness. Or they take
a bird’s-eye view, far above a pedestrian one. I’m for walking around, going
over the ground. Not that it will really be done here and now.
Here let me just report 16 convictions or
attitudes of mine owed to a respect for both science and philosophy. I
abbreviate what is a substantial inquiry in itself into the objectively
physical, the objectively physical world. I boil it down into a fast
checklist of characteristics. They are properties that can be divided into
those that can be taken as having to do with physicality, the first nine, and
those having to do with objectivity, the other seven.
1. Objective physical properties are the
properties that are accepted in science, or hard or harder science.
2. They are properties knowledge of which
is owed or will be owed to the scientific method, which method is open to
3. They are properties that are spatial
and temporal in extent, certainly not outside of space and time.
4. Particular physical properties stand in
lawful connections, most notably causal connections, with other such
properties. Two things are in lawful connection if, given all of a first one, a
second would exist whatever else were happening. Think about that truth dear to
me some other time (Honderich, 1988).
5. Categories of such properties are also
6. The physical macroworld and the
physical microworld are in relations to perception, diffent relations -- the
second including deduction.
7. Macroworld properties are open to
different points of view.
8. They are different from different
points of view.
9. They include, given a defensible view
of primary and secondary properties, both kinds of properties.
And, to consider objectivity rather than
physicality, the properties of the objective physical world have the following
10. They are in a sense or senses separate
11. They are public -- not in the
consciousness of only one individual.
12. Access to them, whether or not by one
individual, is not a matter of special or privileged access.
13. They are more subject to truth and
logic than certain other properties.
14. To make use of the idea of scientific
method for a second time, their objectivity, like their physicality, is a
matter of that method.
15. They include no self or inner fact or
indeed unity or other such fact of subjectivity that is inconsistent with the
above properties of the objective physical world.
16. There is hesitation about whether
objective physicality includes consciousness.
will find them listed again in the table on the lecture handout.
So very much more could be said about all
this. You will be hearing about counterparts to this checklist, also in
Here and elsewhere it comes to mind to
remark that philosophy is as alive and good and with as much future as
science -- since I do conjecture it is thinking more about facts as
distinct from getting them. A good idea not get out of sight of facts, needless
to say. We won't.
PERCEPTUAL CONSCIOUSNESS – WHAT IS AND ISN’T ACTUAL
On we go now from that database, the
encapsulation of it, the pile of theories of consciousness, the
criteria, and objective physicality. It seems to me and maybe others that if we
learn from the existing pile of theories of consciousness and the resulting
criteria, and to my mind the plain thinking about physicality, we need to make
an escape from the customary in the science and philosophy of consciousness.
There is a fair bit of agreement about that. McGinn is one who really declares
the need for something new (1989,
2002, 2004a, 2012).
We need to pay our very own attention to
consciousness, some untutored attention. We do not need to turn ourselves into
what psychologists used to call naive subjects or to demote ourselves to
membership of the folk -- of whom I am inclined to believe that they are
distinguished by knowing quite a few large truths about consciousness. We do
need to concentrate, for a good start, on those two general and main questions
at which we have arrived and respond to them directly out of our holds on being
perceptually conscious. Here is an anticipation, in awful brevity, of what
seems to me the right response.
What is actual for me now with
respect to my perceptual consciousness, my perceptual consciousness as distinct
from my cognitive and affective consciousness, is only the room, what it will
indeed turn out to be sensible to call a room, but a room out there in
space, a room as definitely out there in space as anything at all is out there
in space. God knows it’s not a room in my head. Anyway I know.
Yes, what is actual with you and me now, so far as
perceptual consciousness is concerned, is a room. Most certainly not a
representation of a room or any such thing whatever, called image or content or
whatever else, I know when someone or something is sending me a message, even
sneakily. No representation no matter what part registrations, inputs, recordings
or such-like effects maybe mistakenly or anyway misleadingly called representations
play elsewhere, in entirely unconscious mentality. We can all very well indeed
tell the difference between a sign of any sort and a thing that isn't one.
Perceptual consciousness is not just or even at all about that room, but
in short is that room.
metaphysical self is actual either, or direction or aboutness, or any other
philosophical or funny stuff. What is actual is a subjective physical world
in the usual sense of a part of the thing. Saying so is comparable to familiar
talk of being in touch with the world as ordinarily thought of, or the
objective physical world, in virtue of being in touch with a part of it. There
is reason for the rhetoric, perfectly literal sense to be given to it.
Is a subjective physical world, since not
a world inside your head, just a phantom world? Is it insubstantial,
imaginary, imagined, dreamed up? If you are caught in a good tradition of
philosophical scepticism, maybe scepticism gone off the deep end, and feel like
saying yes, making me feel sorry for you, hang on for a while. Hold your
horses. This is philosophy in English, not French, not literary, not evocative,
6 PERCEPTUAL CONSCIOUSNESS – SOMETHING'S BEING
ACTUAL IS IT'S BEING SUBJECTIVELY PHYSICAL IN A WAY
What about question 2? What is a room's being
It is indeed its existing in a way not at
all metaphorical or otherwise figurative, but a way to be very literally
specified -- ways guided by what was said of the objective physical world. This
existence of a room is partly but not only a matter of a room's occupying that
space out there and lasting through some time, and of its being in lawful
connections including causal ones within itself, and of two great lawful
dependencies that mainly distinguish this way of existing in particular.
The first dependency is the lawful
categorial dependency of what is actual on what we have just inquired into or
anyway glanced at, the objective physical world, or rather on parts or
pieces or stages of the objective physical world we ordinary speak of
perceiving, whatever that perceiving really comes to. The second dependency
with my world is a dependency on my objective properties as a perceiver, neural
properties and location for a start. Note in passing that this connects with
something mentioned before, the both epistemic and ontic character of our
So my being perceptually conscious now is
the existence of a part or piece or stage of a sequence that is one subjective
physical world, one among very many, as many as there are sets of
perceivings of single perceivers. These myriad worlds are no less real for
there being myriads of them and for their parts being more transitory than
parts of the objective physical world. Myriad and momentary things in
the objective physical world do not fail to exist on account of being myriad
and momentary. I speak of a room, of course, not at all to diminish it
or to allow that it is flaky, but mainly just to distinguish it from that other
Subjective physical worlds and their parts or
whatever are plain enough states of affairs or circumstances, ways things or
objects are, sets of things and properties. These subjective worlds are a vast
subset, the objective physical world being a one-member subset, of course of
many parts, of the single all-inclusive world that there is, the physical
world, that totality of the things that there are. Here is a summary table
of these and other facts. It also covers what we will be coming to, cognitive
and affective consciousness.
A TABLE OF PHYSICALITIES
PHYSICAL WORLDS: Perceptual Consciousness
PHYSICAL REPRESENTATIONS: Cognitive and Affective Consciousness
inventory of science
inventory of science
inventory of science
the scientific method
the scientific method
the scientific method
space and time
space and time
space and time
particular lawful connections
particular lawful connections
particular lawful connections
categorial lawful connections
categorial lawful connections, including those with (a) the objective
physical world and (b) the conscious thing
categorial lawful connections, including those with the objective physical
world and the conscious thing
perception, microworld deduction
of macroworld perception
perceived, but dependent on macroworld perception
than one point of view with macroworld
than one point of view with with perception
point of view
from different points of view
from different points of view
differences from points of view
and secondary properties
and secondary properties despite 5b above
primary and secondary properties
separate from consciousness
separate from consciousness
and logic, more subject to
and logic, less subject to?
and logic, less subject to
the scientific method
the scientific method despite doubt
the scientific method despite doubt
no self or unity or other such inner fact of subjectivity inconsistent with
the above properties of the objective physical world
subjective physical world is an element in an individuality that is a unique
and large unity of lawful and conceptual dependencies including much else
representation is an element in an individuality that is a unique and large
unity of lawful and meaningful dependencies including much else
about whether objective physicality includes consciousness
significant hesitation about taking the above subjective physicality as being
that of actual perceptual consciousness
significant hesitation about taking this subjective physicality as being the
nature of actual cognitive and affective consciousness
Just attend, first, to the left hand
column of the table. You will not need telling again that it
summarizes what was said earlier of objective physicality. Subjective
physical worlds, our present concern, characterized in the middle column,
are one of two subsets of subjective physicality. All of that subjective
physicality, like objective physicality, as already remarked, is a subset
of physicality in general. You will know that I pass by an awful lot of
stuff in the table and in all of what I have to say here in my hour. Very broad
Subjective physical worlds are about as real, if
differently real, I repeat, in pretty much the sum of decent senses of that loose
and wandering word, as the objective physical world, that other sequence.
In one sense, subjective physical worlds are more real -- as in effect is often
enough remarked, but pass that by. All this is so however and to what limited
extent the objective physical world is related to subjective physical worlds.
It is because of the dependencies on the objective physical world and also on
perceivers, and for another specific and large reason to which we will come,
about subjectivity or rather individuality, that these perceived worlds rightly
have the name of being subjective.
You can say, then, that my being
perceptually conscious now just is and is only a particular
existence of something like what most of the leading ideas of consciousness and
the existing theories of consciousness take or half-seem to take or may take
perceptual consciousness merely to be of or about, say a room.
They take perceptual consciousness to be a lot more than just the
existence of a room. Evidently the characteristics of subjective physical
worlds also clarify and contribute content to what was said earlier of the
epistemic and ontic character of our data as to ordinary consciousness.
If you fancy aphorisms, you can also say
about perceptual consciousness that the philosopher
Bishop Berkeley wasn't near to right in saying esse est percipi, that to
be is to be perceived. The better aphorism is to be perceptually
conscious is for something in a way to be.
In talking of subjective physical
worlds, we're not discovering a new thing, a new category. We're just
noting and not being distracted from and using an old thing, putting it
into a theory of perceptual consciousness, making a theory of perceptual
consciousness from it and necessarily leaving other stuff out. There has
certainly been talk and theory of some or other physical world being there
for us, in the ordinary sense of a part of it being there. There's been talk of
the world as experienced. There's one for you right now, isn't there?
You're immediately in touch with one of those right now, aren't you? If this
familiar fact doesn't give you a proof of Actualism with respect to perceptual
consciousness, it's a very helpful pull in the right direction.
So much for an anticipation of the main
body of the theory of Actualism with respect to just perceptual consciousness,
whatever is to be said about cognitive consciousness and affective
consciousness -- including whatever is to be said of the beliefs and also the
desires in which perceptual consciousness does not consist at all, but by which
it is often accompanied or to which it commonly gives rise.
7. COGNITIVE AND AFFECTIVE CONSCIOUSNESS – THEORIES & WHAT
IS AND ISN’T ACTUAL
To turn yet
more cursorily to these second and third parts or sides of consciousness, what
is actual with your cognitive consciousness, say your just thinking of your
mother or the proposition of there being different physicalities,
or your attending to this room or to something in it?
My answer is that what is actual, we need to say, and
absolutely all that is actual, is a representation or a sequence of
representations. And what it is for it to be actual is for it to be
subjectively physical, differently subjectively physical than with
a room. Cognitive consciousness, further, is related to truth. With
respect to affective consciousness as against cognitive, say your now wanting a
glass of wine, what is actual is also representation, subjectively physical,
but related to valuing rather than truth. To come to these propositions,
of course, is to come away entirely from the figurative to the literal.
For both cognitive and affective
consciousness, as already anticipated, see the the right hand columns of that
table. Note in passing, not that the point is simple and without
qualification, that given the differences between (1) perceptual consciousness
and (2) cognitive and affective consciousness, we certainly do not have the
whole nature of consciousness as uniform or principally or
essentially or primarily uniform. That in
itself is a recommendation of Actualism, a theory's truth to your hold of your
consciousness. You know, for a start, how different consciousness in seeing is
from thinking and wanting.
If there is a lot of
existing philosophical and scientific theory with respect to perceptual consciousness,
maybe there is still more with respect to cognitive and affective
consciousness. Since I am getting near the end of this lecturing hour, and
discussion is better, here is no more than just a list of good subjects in
another pile that you might want to bring up, a list of ten good subjects
having to do with representation -- a list with just a comment or two added.
and Other Representationism. My representationism, as you know from what has
been said of actual perceptual consciousness, where there is no
representation at all, is not universal representationism. As you will be
hearing in a minute or two, it definitely is not pure. The representation
in cognitive and affective consciousness necessarily is with
something else, one element of the fact.
Our Knowledge of Thinking
and Wanting, Our Holds -- and the essential comparison with Linguistic
Representations -- a Simple Classification from the excellent work of Austin,
Searle and others. A large and worthy subject on which we depend .
Thought. A lot more than Jerry Fodor's single one, mentalese (1975, 2008), intriguing though it is -- a
lot more starting with English .
Evolutionary Causalism, also known by other names, for
example as Biosemantics and Teleological Semantics (Millikan, 1993; Papineau, 1987).
Hopeless in my perhaps insufficiently humble view.
or Computerism, with some physical rather than abstract functionalism in
it. Also hopeless with actual consciousness. Hard to believe, by the way, that
it has ever been a clear-headed answer to a clear question about anything like
Lingualism as I
call it -- philosophy of language applied to philosophy of mind. Must be part
of the truth..
The Durable Truth of Some
Representationism or Other in the philosophy of mind. As already said, it has
to be there somehow.
Convention, Unicorns, how conventions come about and so on – Searle again (1969, 1979, 1983, 2002, 2002a, 2010).
Chinese Room Thought Experiment (1980a, 1980b, 1984, 1992, 2009) -- and whether
it’s in fact also an argument for precisely Actualism. I myself will be saying
so in a couple of minutes.
So much for the
list of subjects having to do with representation that you might want to bring
up. I again say one negative thing in
passing. As with functionalism, dualism and the raft of other theories we
glanced at, all of these important subjects make or at least tend to make
consciousness uniform, flatten it. It isn't flat.
AND AFFECTIVE CONSCIOUSNESS – REPRESENTATIONS BEING ACTUAL IS THEIR BEING
SUBJECTIVELY PHYSICAL IN A WAY
Put up with just a few words more on some
of that pile of subjects, the representational theories of and related to
cognitive and affective consciousness. They admittedly do begin from reflection
on our spoken and written language, English and the rest, linguistic
representations, and in effect move on from that reflection to an account of conscious
I report that it seems to me that none of
this by itself can work. Searle, admire him as I do, can't succeed in reducing
any consciousness to only this. Representation is as true of a line of type as
of your thought or want. That is just as true when nobody is thinking it.
Absolutely plainly, there is a fundamental and large difference between (1) a
line of print on a page or a sequence of sounds and (2) a conscious
representation or a sequence of such things. The relation of a conscious
representation to language is only part of the truth..
Actualism saves the day. The greatest of philosophers in our tradition, Hume,
began or more likely continued a certain habit of inquiry when he was in a way
frustrated in coming to an understanding of something, in his case cause and
effect. 'We must...,' he said, 'proceed like those, who
being in search of any thing, that lies concealed from them, and not finding it
in the place they expected, beat about all the neighbouring fields, without any
certain view or design, in hopes their good fortune will at last guide them to
what they search for (1888,
77-8). Pity he didn't get to the right answer about cause and effect. But let
me be hopeful in my own different endeavour. In fact I take it there is more than good reason
Our maybe reassuring circumstance right now is that if we need to look in
another field than the two-term relation of representation, we can in fact do
that without going to a wholly new field. If we have to leave the field of
thoughts and wants and of representation when it is understood as being somehow
only a relation between the representation and what is represented, only a
parallel to language, we can in fact do that, by way of another field that is
not a new field.
I mean we can stay right in and attend to the larger field that we've never
been out of, always been in since before getting to cognitive and affective
consciousness. In fact never been out of it since we began by settling our
whole subject-matter of consciousness in general, since we settled on an
initial clarification of consciousness in the primary ordinary sense --
consciousness as actual, actual consciousness. The smaller field is in the
Cognitive and affective consciousness, thoughts and wants, are not only
representations as first conceived in relation to spoken and written language.
They are not only such representations, most saliently propositional attitudes,
attitudes to propositional contents, the latter being satisfied by certain
states of affairs. Rather, thoughts and wants are such representations as
have the further property of being actual. That is the burden of what I put
to you. That is the fundamental difference between a line of print
and conscious representations. Representational consciousness consists in more
than a dyadic relation. It is not purely representational, not to be clarified
by pure representationism.
For the contents of that contention, you
will rightly expect me to refer you again to that table -- to its list of the
characteristics of subjective physical representations. The right-hand columns.
ZOMBIE OBJECTION, CHANGING TUNE,
Yes, questions and objections are raised by Actualism. One is prompted by
the recent history of the philosophy of consciousness and some of the science
of it. Supposedly sufficient conditions having to do with consciousness, it was
claimed, fail to be such. Zombies, wholly unconcious things, could satisfy
them, as Robert Kirk (2005,
2011) explained. Do you say that exactly the conditions for consciousness now
set out in Actualism -- say perceptual consciousness -- could be satisfied by
something but the thing still wouldn't be conscious at all?
There is a temptation to say a kind
of replica of me or you that it could satisfy exactly the conditions specified
and the replica wouldn't be conscious in the way we know about? That it would
indeed be, in this different setting of reflection, just one of those things
we’ve heard about in other contexts, a zombie? Put aside the stuff in zombie
theory about metaphysical possibility and all that, which I myself can do
without pretty easily. Do you really say there could be something without
consciousness despite it and the rest of the situation being exactly what
actualism says is what being conscious consists in?
Well, sometimes the best form of defence
is counter-assertion because it is true.
In the heatwave of the English summer of 2013, at a lunch table in a club, a
medical man gave me a free opinion about diabetes. It led me, after reading up
on the internet that the symptoms are thirst, tiredness, seeing less clearly
and so on, to the seemingly true proposition about me that I had a lot of the
symptoms. I fell into the illusion that I had diabetes -- the diabetes
Think of my diabetes propositions about myself in relation to the
16 propositions on the checklist on the physicality of representations and
hence on cognitive and affective consciousness, and the previous 16
counterparts with perceptual consciousness. Is it an illusion that our 16
propositions and the stuff about worlds and representations do not
capture the nature of consciousness in its three sides? Is it an illusion
that there is something else or more to consciousness?
If you fortitudinously do a lot of reading of what this
lecture comes from, that labouring book with all the typos, or just a precis-book
that is coming out, (Your Consciousness Is What? Where?), will you share with me at least on most
days the idea that a persisting elusiveness of perceptual consciousness really is
itself an illusion? That it really is an illusion that there is more to
consciousness than we have supposed, more that we have got hold of? I hope so.
Keep in mind that there are more kinds of illusion than personal ones. There
are illusions of peoples, cultures, politics, philosophy, and science.
Hierarchic or oligarchic democracy for a start.
Is it possible to say something more
useful quickly about and against the more-to-consciousness illusion? Well, let
me gesture at another piece of persuading. You need to keep in mind all
of the characteristics of perceptual consciousness and the other two kinds of
consciousness. But think right now just of our large fact of subjectivity. In
Actualism, it is a unity that is individuality, akin to the living
of a life. A long way from a ruddy homunculus. Think in particular of the
large fact itself that your individuality includes and partly consists in
nothing less than the reality now of a subjective physical world,
certainly out there.
Now add something pre-theoretical. It is pretty
certain, and I'd say ordinary reflection proves it, if you need what you
bravely and too hopefully call a proof, that there is at least strangeness
about consciousness. Consciousness is more than just different. It is different
in a particular and peculiar way. It is unique. When you really try to
think of it, it pushes rather than just tempts you to a kind of rhetoric, in
line with but beyond our database. Maybe you want to say consciousness
somehow is a mesmerizing fact.
Actualism explains this,
doesn’t it? Consciousness for Actualism is those things, is on the way
to mesmerizing, because in its fundamental part it is no less than the
existence of a world. Actualism has this special and I’d say great
recommendation that goes against the temptation of the zombie objection. As
noted in the table, you get a suitably whopping individuality with Actualism,
which I have not slowed down to talk about. You get an individuality that
brings in an individual world -- a real individual world not of rhetoric or
poetry or Eastern mysticism but of plain propositions. It can be said, although
the words aren't exact, that with Actualism you are a unity that includes the
size of a world. That definitely isn't to leave something out.
So Actualism rings true to me. It gets me
somewhere with consciousness. I don't think that's because I'm too perceptually
conscious, not cognitive enough.
Do you now maybe entirely change your
tune? I've known it to happen in seminars. Do you say that this externalism
with perceptual consciousness isn't crazy, in need of exclamation marks,
too rhetorical, circular, against good sense, strange, or in one of the other
ways unsatisfactory? Those were more of Colin's McGinn's ideas (2007) about a premature predecessor of
the present Actualism (http://www.ucl.ac.uk/~uctytho/HonderichMcGinnStrohminger.htm).
Do you say more or less the opposite -- that Actualism is old hat, or at least
half or somehow old hat? That despite leaving uniformity behind what it comes
to is philosophically some familiar idea -- the idea that perceptual
consciousness has content, with the addition, no doubt already made by
somebody else, maybe the acute Burge, that the content is external?
Well, Actualism doesn't come to that, even
with just perceptual consciousness before we get to the great difference of
reflective and affective consciousness. What it comes to, in terms of a
headline, is that the consciousness is the fact of an existence of the
content -- a content properly and differently conceived and described. In place
of perceptual consciousness as something internal in some relation to something
external, no doubt some kind of representing relation, we have
consciousness as something external in lawful connection with
something else external as well as something internal.
And there's no more to
the fact of being perceptually conscious than dependent external content.
There's no vehicle or any other damned thing in a variety put up or
glanced at by various philosophers, including a brain-connection, sense-data,
aspects, funny self, direction or aboutness, a higher or second order of stuff,
and so on and so forth. And none of that stuff except the existence of
representation and attitude in cognitive or affective consciousness either.
Do I have to try harder here? Will some
tough philosophical character, maybe some lowlife psychologist, maybe even Ned Block or Dave Chalmers,
say in their New York seminar that there is
no news in all this verbiage? That Actualism is blunder from Bloomsbury? Will
they say that it is a truism that we all accept already that the world,
something close to the objective physical world as defined, is part of, maybe
the main thing with, perceptual consciousness as somehow ordinarily understood
-- with another main thing in the story of it being some kind of representation
Well, I don’t mind at all being in accord
with some or other truism of this sort. But it would be strange to try to identify
Actualism with it, try to reduce Actualism to it. Even crazy. Actualism is the
contention that being perceptually conscious is itself precisely a defined
existence of an external world, not the objective physical
world. Actualism is absolutely not the proposition, say, that what the
story of perceptual consciousness comes to is representation and also the
objective physical world. It is not some proposition somehow to the effect that
what perceptual consciousness comes to is some kind of represented world
-- what by the way does indeed seem to be and deserves to be called
exactly a kind of phantom world.
We haven't just engaged in what is often called semantics -- just made a
change to the standard use of a word for some purpose. We haven't widened the
use so it covers all of some science or whatever. And with perceptual
consciousness we haven’t just more or less arbitrarily transferred the noun
'consciousness' from a state in a perceiver to a kind of outer thing on the end
of an explained relation. We began from a database, ploughed on with the logic
of philosophy, and we have a different view of what is out there, its
subjective physicality, and it has no unexplained relation or anything else
unexplained to it.
(b) It is my conviction that Actualism is a defeat of pessimism
about understanding consciousness. More needs to be said about Chomsky in
particular here, what he draws from the history of science – but that is for
another day. There is no general mind-body problem at all, which is to say no
unique general consciousness-brain problem. No unique hard problem in
Chalmers’s well-known sense (1995a,
1995b, 1996). No mystery, no ground for McGinn’s mysterianism (McGinn various cited works; Flanagan 1991,
Honderich 2014). Of course no reason at all for supposing that
science can only deal with the ‘neural correlates’ of consciousness.
connections of whatever else with consciousness, and within consciousness, are
the ordinary connections of natural law fundamental to all science. Whatever
the lovely research challenges of the connections in actual consciousness,
there is no more a general consciousness-brain problem than there is a
mass-acceleration problem, or a general heater-etc-and-room-temperature
problem, or a general problem of whether if everything goes OK from Muswell
Hill onward a 24 bus ends up at London Bridge
(c) To repeat once more just a word about
cognitive and affective consciousness, not only is Actualism not a universal or
monolithic representationism about consciousness generally, it isn't a pure
representationism either where it is a representationism. As you've heard,
cognitive and affective consciousness are not a matter just of representations.
They are, to revert to the metaphor, a matter of actual representations.
(d) Actualism sure isn't Naive Realism, which
mainly has been just resistance to sense-data and all that, and has merely been
to the effect that in perception we’re in some unexplained direct relation to the objective physical world. Nor is Actualism the fine thinking of
Peter Strawson (Honderich 2015a). Actualism isn't any other
externalism either -- Putnam or after. For a big start, perceptual
consciousness, as I keep saying, isn't isn't partly a matter of representations
-- a room represented. There is also the hope, as you know, that Actualism,
despite not being Naive Realism, does give real content to Naive Realism --
which always seemed to have some sense somewhere in it despite uncertainty and
the condescending labours on sense data (Paul Snowdon, 2015) of
the Logical Positivist Freddie Ayer and those American allies.
is the hope that Actualism liberates consciousness-science from a common
hesitancy or tentativeness about consciousness. It does so partly by offering,
in the brave way of philosophers and scientists who would be little
Copernicuses, a whole different way of looking at things with perceptual
consciousness. It does so, as much, by making all consciousness a matter of
science's standard lawful connections (Honderich, 1988).
There is no wisp of a ghost in this different machine, no fin de siecle
lingering over what now needs to go into the past (cf. Nagel 2015 and Honderich 2015).
(f) Actualism is a fertile theory, indeed
a workplace. More on representation itself for a start, and more, as my wife
Ingrid points out, on the relations between perceptual consciousness and the
other two kinds. The theory is a workplace for both science and philosophy --
it eschews both scientism and philosophism, the latter carried to an extreme by
Wittgenstein, who should be better known than he is for the inane remark
that 'no supposition seems more natural than that there is no process in the
brain correlated with associating or thinking' (1967, 608). Neither science nor philosophy,
by the way, is merely John Locke's handmaiden of the other.
(g) Also by the way, does
Actualism make more than a contribution to an old chestnut, the subject that is
determinism's consequences for our freedoms and responsibilities? Actualism gives
us a standing, doesn't it, one that can save us from propounding
uncausal free will or origination, gives us a standing first having to do with
my being and your being a necessary condition of a subjective physical world?
(h) Was ordinary consciousness in the
primary ordinary sense, the core sense, the right consciousness to consider? My
short answer can't be yes, since there is no possibility of showing that any
consciousness is the right one.
In the free world of philosophy, anyone can follow that crowd that considers
the consciousness that in our ordinary terms consists in both (a) ordinary-consciousness
mentality plus (b) mentality that is not ordinary-consciousness mentality.
People can be still freer and consider consciousness where it also
includes such facts of perception as those having to do with retinas. They
can, differently, just consider consciousness that consists in our perceptual
consciousness plus the cognitive and affective consciousness that
consists in the large fact of attention. They can consider, as many do, in my
view fatally, consciousness in general without distinguishing our
perceptual consciousness from our cognitive and affective consciousness.
But one thing that can be said for our choice of ordinary consciousness is
that no inquirer can leave out ordinary consciousness, of which we can have an
adequate initial clarification. This consciousness must surely be, in fact it is,
what serves to identify the other additions, most obviously the addition of the
mentality that is not ordinary consciousness. This combined subject, and in
particular the addition, needs to be distinguished from other explanations of
behaviour, say gravity or mere musculature, and it cannot be distinguished
without reliance on exactly ordinary consciousness. If Actualism is a
defensible theory of ordinary consciousness, no general theory can leave it
out. It is essential. I don’t think that is true of any other initial idea of
the radical relocation in space of a fact of consciousness, the fact of
perceptual consciousness – is this little Copernicanism a merely grandiose
revolution, bound to fail? Well, there is
a weight of argument for it. Actualism, I propose, is a case of satisfying
Hume's hope for pieces of philosophy -- an inescapability of conclusions
given prior acceptance of at least reasonable premises.
conclusions are the result not of proof, for which philosophy as against
science is too hard (cf. Chalmers, 2015), but of a weight of argument and judgement.
Berkeley, George, 1710, Treatise Concerning the
Principles of Human Knowledge, in Works, ed. A. A. Luce and T.
Block, Ned, 1995a, 'On a Confusion About a
Function of Consciousness', The Behavioral and Brain Sciences.
------ 2007a, Consciousness, Function, and
Representation, Collected Papers, Vol. 1, MIT Press.
------ 2007b, 'Functionalism', in Block 2007a.
Burge, Tyler, 2007, Foundations of Mind.
Oxford University Press.
Chalmers, David, 1995a, 'Facing Up To the Problem
of Consciousness', Journal of Consciousness Studies.
------ 1995b, 'The Puzzle of Conscious Experience',
------ 1996, The Conscious Mind: In Search of a
Fundamental Theory. Oxford University Press.
------, 2015, ‘Why Isn’t There More Progress in
Philosophy?’, in Honderich, ed., 2015a.
Chomsky, Noam, 1975. Reflections on Language,
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