Greta wrote: ↑
March 25th, 2020, 10:22 pm
However, its closer to consciousness than anything else, just as a proto-star is closer to a star or a proto-human is closer to a human. In terms of properties, these proto-phenomena lie between the "main" phenomena and other phenomena. When it comes to consciousness, what else senses and responds, other than reflexes (biological or mechanical) and consciousness?
The hard problem is to comprehend and explain the neurological transformation of objective sensory signals into subjective sensory qualia.
For example, for cognitivist reductionists such as Peter Carruthers "there is no point at which a light gets turned on (nor does any light get turned on gradually, come to that), and no special properties emerge" (Human and Animal Minds
, 181). That is, according to him, an ontological emergence of special sensory qualia in addition to and distinct from sensory information never occurred during the course of evolution, because phenomenal consciousness is nothing over and above globally broadcast nonconceptual information
. So there was only an evolutionary transition from nonglobally
broadcast sensory information to globally
broadcast sensory information.
Sensory information becomes phenomenally conscious if and only if it is globally broadcast in a mind/brain by becoming part of or entering the content of working memory
(the mind's/brain's "global workspace"
), and thus being accessible or available to all or most cognitive modules (or "executive functions"—see quote below!). Therefore, the difference between phenomenally preconscious/preexperiential
neural information and phenomenally conscious/experiential
neural information is that the latter is part of the content of the mind's/brain's global workspace and the former is not—which means that it's a purely functional
difference between degrees of cognitive accessibility or availability of neural information, such that it is not constituted by any ontological emergence of functionally-informationally irreducible experiential qualia. The defenders of this cognitivistic account of phenomenal consciousness argue that it is thereby demystified and fully "naturalized".
The global-workspace theory of consciousness (GWT)
was originally developed by Bernard Baars (and is now defended by Carruthers and others): https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/cons ... obNeurWork
However, GWT isn't accepted by all psychologists and philosophers of mind; and it has been criticized by qualia dualists such as Chalmers, who thinks it doesn't really provide a reductive explanation of phenomenal consciousness but of access consciousness at most:
"Baars brings all sorts of experimental evidence to bear in establishing his main thesis: consciousness is a kind of global workspace
in a distributed system of intelligent information processors. When processors gain access to the global workspace, they broadcast a message to the entire system, as if they had written it on a blackboard. The contents of the global workspace are the contents of consciousness.
Baars uses this model to explain a remarkable number of properties of human processing. The model provides a very suggestive framework for explaining a subject's access to information, and its role in attention, reportability, voluntary control, and even the development of a self-concept. The global workspace framework is therefore well suited to explaining consciousness in its whole bundle of psychological senses. There is at least a general theory of awareness
But there is no reductive explanation of experience
to be found here. The question of why these processes should give rise to experience is simply not addressed. One might suppose that according to the theory, the contents of experience are precisely the contents of the workspace. But even if this is so, nothing internal to the theory explains
why it is that the information within the global workspace is experienced. The best the theory can do is to say that the information is experienced because it is globally accessible. But now the question arises in a different form: Why should global accessibility give rise to conscious experience? This bridging question is not addressed in Baar's work."
(Chalmers, David J. The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory.
New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. p. 112)
"Phenomenal consciousness is at least conceptually distinct from access
consciousness (Block 1995, 2007). Both are forms of mental-state consciousness: it is mental states that are thought to have phenomenal properties, and that can be accessible to enter into decision-making, reasoning, and verbal report. As has been stressed, however, phenomenal
consciousness is a ﬁrst-person notion. One can only understand what that concept is intended to pick out by directing one’s attention to some of one’s own phenomenally conscious states. Access
consciousness, in contrast, is functionally deﬁned, and the concept could be fully understood by a zombie. A mental state is said to be access conscious if it is accessible to a wide range of other systems for further processing, speciﬁcally those involved in decision-making, in reasoning, in issuing verbal reports, and in the formation of long-term memories.
It is controversial whether or not there is any real distinction between access consciousness and phenomenal consciousness. Put differently: although the concepts
are certainly distinct, it is disputed whether the two concepts pick out distinct properties or converge on the same property."
(Carruthers, Peter. Human and Animal Minds: The Consciousness Questions Laid to Rest.
New York: Oxford University Press, 2019. p. 3)
"Executive functions (EFs; also called executive control or cognitive control) refer to a family of top-down mental processes needed when you have to concentrate and pay attention, when going on automatic or relying on instinct or intuition would be ill-advised, insufficient, or impossible. Using EFs is effortful; it is easier to continue doing what you have been doing than to change, it is easier to give into temptation than to resist it, and it is easier to go on “automatic pilot” than to consider what to do next. There is general agreement that there are three core EFs: inhibition [inhibitory control, including self-control (behavioral inhibition) and interference control (selective attention and cognitive inhibition)], working memory (WM), and cognitive flexibility (also called set shifting, mental flexibility, or mental set shifting and closely linked to creativity). From these, higher-order EFs are built such as reasoning, problem solving, and planning. EFs are skills essential for mental and physical health; success in school and in life; and cognitive, social, and psychological development."
(Diamond, Adele. "Executive Functions." Annual Review of Psychology
64 (2013): 135–168. p. 136)