About MIT Press Ebooks
Consciousness, Function, and Representation, Volume 1
This volume of Ned Block's writings collects his papers on consciousness, functionalism, and representationism. A number of these papers treat the significance of the multiple realizability of mental states for the mind-body problem—a theme that has concerned Block since the 1960s. One paper on this topic considers the upshot for the mind-body problem of the possibility of a robot that is functionally like us but physically different—as is Commander Data of Star Trek's second generation. The papers on consciousness treat such conceptual issues as phenomenal versus access consciousness, Dennett's theory of consciousness, and the function of consciousness, as well as such empirical matters as "How Not to Find the Neural Correlate of Consciousness," and (in an expanded version of a paper originally in Trends in Cognitive Sciences) an argument that there are distinct neural correlates for access consciousness and phenomenal consciousness. Turning to the mind-body problem, Block defends physicalism against Max Black's argument concerning phenomenal modes of presentation. The papers on representationism consider "mental paint" as well as the "Inverted Earth" thought experiment—a world in which colors are reversed but there is a compensating reversal in the words that are used to describe them.
Consciousness, Function, and Representation, bringing together papers that have appeared primarily in journals and conference proceedings, can be regarded as Block's most complete statement of his positions on consciousness.
About the Author
Ned Block is Silver Professor of Philosophy and Psychology at New York University and was Chair of the Philosophy Program at MIT from 1990 to 1995. He is a coeditor of The Nature of Consciousness: Philosophical Debates (MIT Press, 1997).