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The structure of consciousness
In this dissertation, I examine the nature and structure of consciousness. Conscious experience is often said to be phenomenally unified, and subjects of consciousness are often self-conscious. I ask whether these features necessarily accompanyconscious experience. Is it necessarily the case, for instance, that all of a conscious subject's experiences at a time are phenomenally unified? And is it necessarily the case that subjects of consciousness are self-conscious whenever they are conscious? I argue that the answer to the former is affirmative and the latter negative. In the first chapter, I set the stage by distinguishing phenomenal unity from other species of conscious unity. A pair of conscious states is phenomenally unified if they are experienced together as part of a single experience that encompasses them both. The Unity Thesis is formulated using the notion of a maximal state of consciousness. In the second chapter, I attempt to precisify this notion in a way that does not pre-emptively decide the debate over the Unity Thesis. In informal terms, a maximal state of consciousness is a sum of conscious states that are i) simultaneous, ii) have the same subject, and iii) all have a conjoint phenomenology. I call this the Consensus View. In chapter three, I consider a recent attempt by Bayne to account for the split-brain data in a way that does not attribute two streams of consciousness to them. I close the chapter by presenting the rough outline of an interpretation of the split-brain data that is consistent with both the Unity Thesis and the split-brain data. In chapter four, I turn from defending the Unity Thesis to examining an attempt to account for conscious unity. Rosenthal has offered a theory of conscious unity as an extension of his higher-order theory of consciousness. I consider his account of conscious unity in light of a well-known objection to his theory: the (Representational) Mismatch Objection. In chapter five, the discussion turns from the unity of consciousness to self-consciousness. The question that is considered in this and the last chapter is the question whether conscious experience is necessarily accompanied by self-consciousness. The affirmative answer to this question I call the Ubiquity Thesis. I spend some time distinguishing robust conceptions of self-consciousness from minimal conceptions of self-consciousness. In the sixth and final chapter, I take up a contemporary defence of the Ubiquity Thesis. Kriegel, a higher-order theorist like Rosenthal, has argued that every conscious state is conscious in virtue of the fact that it represents itself. This self-representation is understood as a kind of self-consciousness and, thus, his theory can be seen as affirming the Ubiquity Thesis. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)
Friesen, Lowell Keith, "The structure of consciousness" (2013). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3603085.