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Consciousness

Consciousness

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Published by Reymond Turbanada

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Published by: Reymond Turbanada on Apr 08, 2010
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ConsciousnessFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to:navigation,search 
Consciousness
is variously defined as
 subjective experience
, or 
awareness
, or 
wakefulness
, or 
the executive control system of themind 
.
[1]
It is anumbrella termthat may refer to a variety of mental phenomena.
[2]
Although humans realize what everyday experiencesare, consciousness refuses to be defined, philosophers note (e.g. John Searle in
The Oxford Companion to Philosophy
):
[3]
 "Anything that we are aware of at a given moment forms part of our consciousness, making conscious experience at once the mostfamiliar and most mysterious aspect of our lives." ²Schneider andVelmans, 2007
[4]
 Consciousness in medicine (e.g., anesthesiology) is assessed by observing a patient's alertness and responsiveness, and can be seen asa continuum of states ranging from alert, oriented to time and place, and communicative, through disorientation, then delirium, thenloss of any meaningful communication, and ending with loss of movement in response to painful stimulation.
[5]
 Consciousness in psychology and philosophy has four characteristics: subjectivity, change, continuity and selectivity.
[1][6]
 Intentionality or aboutness (that consciousness is about something) has also been suggested by philosopher Franz Brentano. However,within the philosophy of mind there is no consensus on whether intentionality is a requirement for consciousness.
[7]
 Consciousness is the subject of much research in philosophy of mind, psychology,neuroscience,cognitive science,cognitive neuroscienceandartificial intelligence. Issues of practical concern include how the presence of consciousness can be assessed in severely ill or comatose people;
[8]
whether non-human consciousness exists and if so how it can be measured; at what point infetaldevelopmentconsciousness begins; and whether computerscan achieve a conscious state.
[9][10][11]
 
Contents
[hide]
y
 
1 Etymology 
y
 
2 Philosophical approaches 
o
 
2.1 Phenomenal and access consciousness 
o
 
2.2 The description and location of phenomenal consciousness 
o
 
2.3 Philosophical criticisms 
o
 
2.4 Consciousness and language 
o
 
2.5 Vedanta 
y
 
3 Scientific approaches 
o
 
3.1 Cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience 
o
 
3.2 Experimental philosophy 
o
 
3.3 Evolutionary psychology 
 
3.3.1 Functions of Consciousness 
o
 
3.4 Physical 
y
 
4 Functions 
y
 
5 Tests 
o
 
5.1 Turing 
o
 
5.2 Mirror  
o
 
5.3 Delay 
y
 
6 Merkwelt 
y
 
7 See also 
o
 
7.1 Cognitive science 
o
 
7.2 Spirituality 
o
 
7.3 Physical hypotheses about consciousness 
o
 
7.4 Philosophy 
o
 
7.5 Sociology and Socio-linguistics 
o
 
7.6 Groups 
y
 
8 Notes 
y
 
9 References 
 
y
 
10 Further reading 
y
 
11 External links 
o
 
11.1 Academic journals & newsletters 
o
 
11.2 Philosophy resources 
o
 
11.3 Miscellaneous sites 
o
 
11.4 Video 
[
edit
 
] Etymology
Look up
consciousness
inWiktionary, the free dictionary.The word "conscious" is derived from Latin
conscius
meaning "1. having joint or common knowledge with another, privy to,cognizant of; 2. conscious to oneself; esp., conscious of guilt".
[12]
A related word was
conscientia
which primarily meansmoral conscience. In the literal sense, "conscientia" means knowledge-with, that is, shared knowledge. The word first appears in Latin juridical texts by writers such asCicero
[
citation needed 
 
]
. Here,
conscientia
is the knowledge that a witness has of the deed of someone else.René Descartes(1596±1650) is generally taken to be the first philosopher to use "conscientia" in a way that does not seem to fit thistraditional meaning, although this has recently been countered byBoris Hennig.
[13]
 Shortly thereafter, in Britain, the neo-Platonist theologianRalph Cudworthused the modern meaning of consciousness in his "True Intellectual System of the Universe" (1678) and associated the concept with personal identity, which is assured by the repeated consciousness of oneself. Cudworth's use of the term also remained intertwined with moral agency.Twelve years later, Locke offered a definition of consciousness in his
 Essay Concerning Human Understanding 
(1690) that remainedclosely intertwined with moral conscience (I may be heldmorally responsibleonly for the act of which I am conscious of havingachieved; and my personal identity² my self  ²goes as far as my consciousness extends itself). In any event,John Lockehad much influence on the 18th Century view of consciousness: inSamuel Johnson's celebratedDictionary(1755), Johnson gives a definition of  "conscious" as "endowed with the power of knowing one's own thoughts and actions," and takes Locke's own definition of "consciousness" as "the perception of what passes in a man's own mind."
[
edit
 
] Philosophical approaches
Representation of consciousness from the 17th century.Main article:Philosophy of mind 
 
There are many philosophical stances on consciousness, including behaviorism,dualism,idealism,functionalism,reflexive monism,  phenomenalism, phenomenologyandintentionality, physicalism,emergentism,mysticism, personal identity, andexternalism.
[
edit
 
] Phenomenal and access consciousness
Phenomenal consciousness (P-consciousness) is simply experience; it is moving, colored forms, sounds, sensations, emotions andfeelings with our bodies and responses at the center. These experiences, considered independently of any impact on behavior, arecalled
q
ualia
. The
hard problem of consciousness
, formulated byDavid Chalmersin 1996, deals with the issue of "how to explain astate of phenomenal consciousness in terms of its neurological basis".
[14]
 
 Access consciousness
(A-consciousness) is the phenomenon whereby information in our minds is accessible for verbal report,reasoning, and the control of behavior. So, when we perceive, information about what we perceive is often access conscious; when weintrospect, information about our thoughts is access conscious; when weremember , information about the past (e.g., something that welearned) is often access conscious, and so on. Chalmers thinks that access consciousness is less mysterious than phenomenalconsciousness, so that it is held to pose one of the
easy problems
of consciousness.Daniel Dennettdenies that there is a "hard problem", asserting that the totality of consciousness can be understood in terms of impact on behavior, as studied throughheterophenomenology. There have been numerous approaches to the processes that act on conscious experience from instant toinstant. Dennett suggests that what people think of as phenomenal consciousness, such as
q
ualia
, are judgments and consequent behavior.
[
citation needed 
 
]
He extends this analysis by arguing that phenomenal consciousness can be explained in terms of accessconsciousness, denying the existence of 
q
ualia
, hence denying the existence of a "hard problem."
[
citation needed 
]
Chalmers, on the other hand, argues that Dennett's explanatory processes merely address aspects of the easy problem. Eccles and others have pointed out thedifficulty of explaining the evolution of 
q
ualia
, or of 'minds' which experience them, given that all the processes governing evolutionare physical and so have no direct access to them. There is no guarantee that all people have minds, nor any way to verify whether onedoes or does not possess one.Events that occur in the mind or brain that are not within phenomenal or access consciousness are known as
 subconscious
events.
[
edit] The description and location of phenomenal consciousness
For centuries, philosophers have investigated phenomenal consciousness.René Descartes, who coined the famous dictum 'cogito ergo sum', wrote
 M 
editations on First Philosophy
in the seventeenth century. According to Descartes, all thought is conscious. Consciousexperience, according to Descartes, included such ideas asimaginingsand perceptionslaid out inspaceandtimethat are viewed from a point, and appearing as a result of some quality (qualia) such as color, smell, and so on. (Modern readers are often confused by thisDescartes' notion of interchangeability between the terms 'idea' and 'imaginings.')Descartes defines
ideas
as extended things, as in this excerpt from his
Treatise on
 M 
an
: Now among these figures, it is not those imprinted on the external sense organs, or on the internal surface of the brain, which should be taken to be ideas - but only those which are traced in the spirits on the surface of gland H[where the seat of the imagination and the 'common sense' is located]. That is to say, it is only the latter figureswhich should be taken to be the forms or images which the rational soul united to this machine will consider directlywhen it imagines some object or perceives it by the senses.Thus Descartes does not identify mental ideas or 'qualia' with activity within the sense organs, or even with brain activity, but rather with the "forms or images" that unite the body and the 'rational soul', through the mediating 'gland H'. Thisorganis now known as the pineal gland. Descartes notes that, anatomically, while thehuman brainconsists of two symmetrical hemispheres the pineal gland, which lies close to the brain's centre, appears to be singular. Thus he extrapolated from this that it was the mediator between body andsoul.Philosophical responses, including those of  Nicolas Malebranche,Thomas Reid,John Locke,David HumeandImmanuel Kant, were varied. Malebranche, for example, agreed with Descartes that the human being was composed of two elements, body and mind, andthat conscious experience resided in the latter. He did, however, disagree with Descartes as to the ease with which we might becomeaware of our mental constitution, stating 'I am not my own light unto myself'. David Hume and Immanuel Kant also differ fromDescartes, in that they avoid mentioning a place from which experience is viewed (see "Further reading" below); certainly, few if anymodern philosophers have identified the pineal gland as the seat of dualist interaction.The extension of things in time was considered in more detail by Kant and James. Kant wrote that "only on the presupposition of timecan we represent to ourselves a number of things as existing at one and the same time [simultaneously] or at different times[successively]."William Jamesstressed the extension of experience in time and said that time is "the short duration of which we areimmediately and incessantly sensible."

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