EXTERNALISM -- HONDERICH'S THEORY OF CONSCIOUSNESS DISCUSSED
Journal of Consciousness Studies August 2006
The Journal of Consciousness Studies gave over a double issue to Ted Honderich's idea of the nature of consciousness, Radical Externalism, sometimes called Consciousness as Existence. For his introductory statement of the the idea, go to Radical Externalism. For what later become of it, the full development, go to Actual Consciousness. There will be articles in the journal of up to 5,000 words each by:
Prof. Harold Brown, Northern Illinois University,
Prof. Tim Crane, University of London Institute of Philosophy,
Dr. James Garvey, Royal Institute of Philosophy,
Dr. Stephen Law, Heythrop College, London,
Prof. E. J. Lowe, Durham University,
Dr. Derek Matravers, Open University,
Prof. Paul Noordhof, Nottingham University,
Prof. Ingmar Persson, Gothenburg University,
Dr. Stephen Priest, Oxford University,
Dr. Barry Smith, Birkbeck College London
Prof. Paul Snowdon, University College London
Honderich will reply in the same issue of the journal.
Radical Externalism in part is that your being perceptually conscious, say aware of the room you're in, cannot be anything spiritual or 'dualistic', but also cannot consist in only neural properties, and that with consciousness itself (as distinct from correlates etc) there is no distinction between appearance and reality. For these and other reasons, what it is for you to be aware of the room is literally for there to be a definable near-physical state of affairs outside your head. The theory, unlike the spiritualism and the devout physicalism, satisfies all the criteria of an adequate theory of consciousness -- appearance-reality, subjectivity, realism, non-neuralism, causal interaction, etc. Different but dependent accounts given of reflective and affective consciousness, with some cranialism allowed here.
For more on the theory, go to the entries on consciousness in the index of this website, and in particular the paper Consciousness as Existence, Devout Physicalism,
Spiritualism. The theory is a real departure from traditional and still orthodox accounts of consciousness, the mind-brain relation, and the explanation of such mental events as thoughts, feelings and decisions. For an argued survey of these various traditional and orthodox accounts, prior to Radical Externalism, go to Mind Brain Connection and Mind and Brain Explanation.
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