ACTUAL CONSCIOUSNESS, a book by Ted Honderich, Oxford University Press, July 2014 -- forepages



Chapter 1  Need for an Adequate Initial Clarification
    Questions, Common-Sense Definition, Hold
    Obscurity, Pessimisms
    Adequate Initial Clarification
    Philosophy, Hope

Chapter 2  Five Leading Ideas About Consciousness
    Something It's Like To Be a Thing

Chapter 3  Something's Being Actual
    Retrospect and Argument
    Characteristics of Actual Consciousness
    Circularity Again, Laundry List, Metaphor, History
    Objections, Replies, Reassurance
    The Questions About Consciousness

Chapter 4  Dualisms, Functionalisms, Consciousness-Criteria
    Functionalism in General
    Abstract Functionalism
    Abstract Functionalism: The Causation Objection
    Abstract Functionalism: Four Other Objections
    Physical Functionalism

Chapter 5  Other Consciousness Theories, Criteria Again
    Non-Physical Intentionality and Supervenience, Anomalous Monism
    Qualia Naturalism, Representational Naturalism
    Aspectual Theories: Panpsychism, Double Aspect Theory, Neutral Monism
    Physicalism: Papineau, Searle, Dennett, Neuroscience, Rosenthal, Churchlands                       Quantum Theory
    Externalisms: Putnam, Burge, Noe, Clark
    Criteria Etc.

Chapter 6  What It Is To Be Objectively Physical
    Definitions and Clarifications
    Physicality: Body, Not Mind
    Physicality: The Inventory and the Method of Science
    Physicality: Space and Time
    Physicality: Lawful Dependencies
    Physicality: Perception
    Objectivity: Separateness from Consciousness
    Objectivity: Public, No Privileged Access, Truth and Logic, Scientific Method Again
    Objectivity: Self, Hesitation, Continuum
    Checklist of Characteristics of the Objective Physical World
    Objective Physicality the Only Physicality, Chomsky on Physicality

Chapter 7  Perceptual Consciousness -- What Is and Isn't Actual
      Anticipations of Two Answers
      Qualia, Representations, Content -- Not Actual
      What Is Actual
      Illusion, Hallucination, Naive Realism
      What It's Like, Self, Medium, Neural Properties, Connections, Etc -- Also Not                        Actual
      Indicated Consciousness

Chapter 8  Perceptual Consciousness -- Being Actual Is Being Subjectively Physical
      Subjective Physical Worlds --Their Physicality
      Subjective Physical Worlds --Their Subjectivity
      Checklist of The Characteristics of Subjective Physical Worlds
      Questions and Objections -- A Lot
      Supervenience, Intelligible Connection, Truth

Chapter 9  Cognitive and Affective Consciousness -- Theories, and What Is And Isn't Actual
      Universal, Pure, and Other Representationism
      Our Knowledge of Thinking and Wanting -- and Linguistic Representations
      Linguistic Representations -- a Simple Classification
      Languages of Thought
      Evolutionary Causalism
      The Durable Truth of Some Representationism
      Actual Representations
      What Isn't and What Is Actual With Cognitive and Affective Consciousness?
      Dependency, Convention, Unicorns
      The Chinese Room Thought Experiment

Chapter 10  Cognitive and Affective Consciousness -- Being Actual is Being                                Differently Subjectively Physical
      Actual Representations -- Their Physicality
      Actual Representations -- Their Subjectivity
      A Checklist of the Characteristics of Actual Representations 

Chapter 11  Conclusions Past and Present
      Actualism to Here and a Comparative Table
      Criteria: What is Actual, What Being Actual Is, Reality, Difference
      Criterion: Subjectivity Including Individuality
      Criteria: Three Sides of Consciousness, Naturalism
      Criterion: Relations of Consciousness
      Hopes -- Naive Realism, Consciousness Science, Freedom and Responsibility
      Actual Consciousness the Right Subject?




I am grateful to many past and present: anonymous manuscript readers A, B, and C for OUP, Ken Adams, Igor Aleksander, Freddie Ayer, Andrew Bailey, John Bickle, Ned Block, Bill Brewer, Justin Broackes, Harold Brown, Alex Byrne, John Campbell, Neil Campbell, David Chalmers, Matthew Chrisman, Andy Clark, Paul Coates, Tim Crane, Dan Dennett, Jerry Fodor, Richard Frackowiak, Chris Frith, Sebastian Gardner, James Garvey, Nicholas Georgalis, Marcus Giaquinto,  Carl Gillett, Pat Haggard, Stuart Hampshire, Alastair Hannay, John Heil, Ingrid Coggin Honderich, Nicholas Humphrey, Jaegwon Kim, Robert Kirk, Stephen Law, Jonathan Lowe, Derek Matravers, Colin McGinn, Brian McLaughlin, Alan Millar, Peter Momtchiloff, Barbara Montero, Christina Musholt, Paul Noordhof, Matthew Nudds, Anthony O'Hear, David Papineau, Ingmar Persson, Stephen Priest, Zenon Pylyshyn, Howard Robinson, Andy Ross, Mark Sainsbury, Susan Schneider, Tim Shallice, Aaron Sloman, Barry C. Smith, Paul Snowdon, Jeremy Stangroom, Helen Steward, Tom Stoneham, Barry Stroud, Peter VanInwagen, Johnny Watling, Jonathan Webber, Bernard Williams, Richard Wollheim, Edmond Wright, John Young.


            This inquiry is into what is the subject or a subject of almost all writing and research on consciousness. That is consciousness as we ordinarily think of it. The inquiry's aim is a theory or analysis of this consciousness, an answer to the general question of what it is to be conscious in this ordinary way, what the nature of that is, what the fact is -- and also to answer three particular questions, as other inquiry into the nature of consciousness itself does not. What is it to be conscious in seeing or otherwise perceiving something and, in generic senses, thinking something and wanting something.

            Also unlike other philosophy and science, it takes some time to do what it assumes to be necessary as a preliminary and subsequently shows to have been. That is to arrive at an adequate initial clarification of consciousness in general as we ordinarily think of it. This it does mainly by considering five leading ideas in the philosophy and science of consciousness persisting in this early 21st Century. The five ideas are of qualia, something it is like to be a thing, subjectivity, intentionality or aboutness, and phenomenality.

            By way of linguistic and thus conceptual data, a database, with respect to consciousness found in the leading ideas and elsewhere, the inquiry does arrive at an initial clarification of ordinary consciousness in general, a figurative one. In this first part of the theory or analysis of consciousness that is actualism, ordinary conciousness is initially clarified as actual consciousness. What it is for you to be conscious is identified, non-circularly enough, as something's being actual. The principal questions about the nature of consciousness in general that need to be answered, then, are two.

            What is it that is actual? What is it for it to be actual?

            The answers to the two questions are approached by considering the existing theories of consciousness that are abstract and physical functionalism, the former found to be closely related to traditional dualism, and also by considering a further range of existing theories. From all these theories are acquired further criteria for a successful theory of the nature of conscousness, certainly not figurative. A further prerequisite is an inquiry into the objective physical world.

            Wholly literal and explicit rather than figurative answers to the two questions comprise the main body or principal part of the theory or analysis of consciousness that is actualism.  The answers to the question of what is actual are different in the three cases of consciousness in perceiving, thinking, and wanting. The answers are that to be actual is to be in different ways subjectively physical, to exist in this way.

            With perceptual consciousness, the theory is an externalism, very different from the externalisms of Putnam, Burge, Noe [to desk editor: umlaut on 'e'] and Clark. It is to the effect that being perceptually conscious is not a state of affairs inside our heads, not a cranialism. Rather, perceptual consciousness consists in the fact of subjective and indubitably physical worlds, worlds out there. They are rightly named real worlds, no less real for there being myriads of them and for their dependencies on both what is inside heads and on the objective physical world.

            With both cognitive and affective consciousness, however, as against perceptual consciousness, the theory is an internalism. It has to do with representations, the fact of dependent representations and nothing else, some of them comprising the special case of attention to subjective physical worlds. Neither perceptual consciousness nor cognitive and affective consciousness are unconscious mentality -- mentality not actually conscious. What is said of cognitive and affective consciousness as well as perceptual consciousness makes for neither a universal nor a pure representationism.

            Of certain remaining questions, one is whether actualism in addition to answering its two principal questions satisfies the criteria or conditions of adequacy earlier established. Another remaining question is that of whether it was right in the first place to settle on the subject of consciousness as we ordinarily think of it. There are  the alternatives among others, the alternatives common in science, that include unconscious mentality -- mentality not actual.

            There are concerns that recur in the course of  all this inquiry. One is with the various characteristics of objective physicality, subjective physicality, and physicality generally. Another, quite as persistent, is with the intersecting assortment of facts or ideas of the subjectivity of consciousness and eventually with what is distinguished within it, individuality. Other preoccupations are with the with the difference of consciousness from all else, and the alleged obscurity and mystery of it, and the necessary distinction between conscious and unconscious mentality. One more preoccupation, less explicit, also unresolved, is with the place of consensus in both philosophy and science, what you can call the role of democracy with respect to truth.

            The inquiry is like any ambitious inquiry into so large a subject, comparative in part. If it is in part a tour of the philosophy and science of consciousness, it is in this respect a matter of reasoned predilection or inclination, as became so clear to me. The inquiry is not near to doing general justice to other inquiries and inquirers. They select themselves by their relation to ideas that are the stuff of and impel this particular project, ideas that can take your attention. The four mentioned externalists as well as Block, Chalmers, Chomsky, Crane, Dennett, Dretske, Fodor, Hannay, Jackson, Kim, Kirk, Lowe, Lycan, Martin, McGinn, Montero, Nagel, Papineau, Peacocke, Searle, Snowdon, Tye and others appear not only for their distinctions but also for their relevance to the project in hand.

            This is a work of mainstream philosophy, by which I mean concentration on the ordinary logic of intelligence. It leaves behind misapprehensions too bravely defended by me in the past (2004a; Freeman, 2006). It flies not above but beside cognitive science, psychology, neuroscience, philosophy of language and linguistics, and, I'd say, metaphysics. One main hope for it is akin to David Hume's confident declarations, that if the premises of the inquiry are accepted, the elaborated conclusion of theory or analysis cannot be avoided (1888, 82-84, 164, 166-7).

            But it is a satisfaction to me that it leaves all of consciousness, not merely what are commonly called neural correlates of it, indisputably a subject for science, indeed a subject on which science is more than well forward, a subject which faces science with no obstacles unprecedented in kind. Pessimism is not required in either science or philosophy. I have the large and brave hope, too, that the actualism theory, which cannot possibly be complete, will be a fertile research project for both philosophy and science (cf. Grim, 2009). Does it open a new and perhaps liberating question?

            The informality of style, not always serious and impersonal enough for all professional philosophers in their working hours, is partly owed to and a reminder of the fact that the inquiry must be a kind of joint and mutual enterprise, a kind of conversation, definitely including your awareness of yourself, your hold on your consciousness. Also, I have had both professional and other readers in mind, and certainly have not always suited both. That's life, baby.

            The book is shorter and better for the manuscript's having been Momtchiloffed, which is to say dealt with by a resolute editor and by various sometimes forgiving readers asked to comment on too early a draft of the thing. There is a further summary of the book in the page or two of conclusions and the table at the beginning of the last chapter. The book supplants entirely the philosophy of mind that was the premise of a large work of mine on determinism (1988/1990a,b), and adds something to that work's conclusion about our freedom.

            The many citations of other books and of pages of this book are of three kinds. Support of or evidence for or enlargement of something said by me or by another or others is cited in the ordinary style, e.g. '(Jones, 2014)'. Different or opposing views to one proposed or reported are in the style '(cf. Jones, 2014)'. Cross-references to other pages of this book are in the style '(28)'.