This selection from a recently updated edition of a classic work by Paul Churchland considers such questions as the nature of mental states and processes, in what medium they take place, how they are related to the physical world, whether consciousness survives the disintegration of the physical body, and if a purely physical system such as a computer could enjoy real conscious experience.
What do we know about our inner life, our stream of conscious experience? In this BIT, Eric Schwitzgebel investigates some of our singularly inaccurate judgments about conscious experience. He considers unattended stimuli (does unremembered mean unexperienced?) and our visual experience when our eyes are closed.
The philosopher Michael Tye, reversing his previous position, rejects the phenomenal concept strategy (which holds that we possess a range of special concepts for classifying the subjective aspects of our experiences) and formulates another approach for defending materialism. In this BIT, he examines one puzzle of consciousness that philosophical materialism must confront after rejecting the phenomenal concept strategy.
Consciousness is perhaps the most puzzling aspect of the world and yet it is so very familiar to each of us. In this BIT, tackling a central paradox of consciousness (namely, how it is possible to hold a number of seemingly inconsistent views about it), Rocco Gennaro proposes a version of the HOT (higher order thought) thesis that is consistent with animal consciousness. Gennaro’s integration of empirical and philosophical concerns will make his argument of interest to both philosophers and nonphilosophers.
What links conscious experience of pain, joy, color, and smell to bioelectrical activity in the brain? How can anything physical give rise to nonphysical, subjective, conscious states? Christof Koch has devoted much of his career to bridging the seemingly unbridgeable gap between the physics of the brain and phenomenal experience. In this BIT, Koch argues that consciousness is a fundamental property of networked entities, and rhapsodizes about integrated information theory—how it explains many puzzling facts about consciousness and provides a blueprint for building sentient machines.
While philosophers of mind have been arguing over the status of mental representations in cognitive science, cognitive scientists have been quietly engaged in studying perception, action, and cognition without explaining them in terms of mental representation. In this BIT, Anthony Chemero maps the evolution of a nonrepresentational, dynamical, ecological cognitive science and introduces radical embodied cognition.