Mind and Reality
--- lecturer: [email protected]
A course at the University of Warwick.
Date given: Wednesday 21st October 2020
This is the main page for Lecture 06. I have also put backup recordings here. Or, if you prefer, you can see the slides with no audio or video here.
Intro to the Question about Awareness
Most central features of human life, such as disease, reproduction, cooperation, language and politics can be investigated. In each case there are basic facts that most researchers accept and broad agreement about methods of investigation. None of this holds in the case of awareness (or consciousness, as it is sometimes called). If we are ever to understand what it is, we need to by start thinking about what roles awareness plays. Why does it matter that we are sometimes perceptually aware of things?
Reading (optional): Kelber, A., Vorobyev, M., and Osorio, D. (2003). Animal colour vision – behavioural tests and physiological concepts. Biological Reviews, 78(01):81–118.
A Secondary Subwaking Self?
According to what I will call the Simple Hypothesis, Perceptual awareness enables us to identify things and report what we have identified. Sidis (1898) challenges the Simple Hypothesis with an experiment on perception without awareness.
Reading (optional): Sidis, B. (1898). The psychology of suggestion. Appleton, New York.
Blindsight is ‘the ability of patients with absolute, clinically established, visual field defects caused by occipital cortical damage to detect, localize, and discriminate visual stimuli despite being phenomenally visually unaware of them’ (Cowey, 2010).
- Cowey, A. (2010). The blindsight saga. Experimental Brain Research, 200(1):3–24.
- Marcel, A. J. (1998). Blindsight and shape perception: Deficit of visual consciousness or of visual function? Brain, 121(8):1565–1588.
- Weiskrantz, L., Barbur, J. L., and Sahraie, A. (1995). Parameters affecting conscious versus unconscious visual discrimination with damage to the visual cortex (V1). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 92(13):6122–6126.
- Shea, N. and Frith, C. D. (2016). Dual-process theories and consciousness: The case for ‘Type Zero’ cognition. Neuroscience of Consciousness, 2016(1).
Awareness: First Interim Conclusion
What are the functions of perceptual awareness? The Simplest Idea is that Perceptual awareness enables control of action. But we have already seen three objections to this Idea.
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