Consciousness: a natural history
Abstract:The basic question cognitivists and most analytic philosophers of mind ask is how consciousness arises in matter. This article outlines basic reasons for thinking the question spurious. It does so by examining 1) definitions of life, 2) unjustified and unjustifiable uses of diacritical markings to distinguish real cognition from metaphoric cognition, 3) evidence showing that corporeal consciousness is a biological imperative, 4) corporeal matters of fact deriving from the evolution of proprioception. Three implications of the examination are briefly noted: 1) the need to re-think the common assumption that unconsciousness historically preceded consciousness; 2) the need to delve as deeply and seriously into natural history as into brains and their computational analogues; 3) the need for a critical stance toward arm-chair judgments about consciousness and a correlative turn toward corporeal matters of fact.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403, US.
Publication date: March 1, 1998