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The unfinished theatre

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Can we understand conscious experience? It can seem that the answer is ‘no’. Even when we have well-supported cognitive accounts of consciousness, such as global workspace theory, experience itself seems to elude our grasp. It is easy to see how a global workspace might be a useful adaptation, much harder to see what role is played by conscious experience. For instance, if I'm looking for a blue notebook, why do I need to experience colours? Why wouldn't it suffice to have an unconscious mechanism that recognized colours, and could make such information available to other systems? Why couldn't the mechanisms of the workspace operate without experience at all?

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: The University of Edinburgh, 80 South Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1HN, Scotland.

Publication date: 1997-04-01

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