Object, limits and function of consciousness

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Commentary on ‘The View from Within’, edited by Francisco Varela and Jonathan Shear

[opening paragraph]: The following comments are from a psychologist, involved in the study of complex human information processing such as problem-solving, in which overt behaviour cannot be isolated from the subject's representation, since it is the prototype of goal-directed activity. In that respect perception, i.e. interpretation of the situation, is intrinsically linked to action, i.e. to changing the situation so as to complete the goal. In that field representation cannot be assimilated to consciousness, and it is very important, in my opinion, to understand what makes a representation become conscious and what is changed in behaviour when an implicit representation becomes explicit and reportable; and to develop a precise methodology for obtaining and analysing verbal reports, which are in those situations the only ways of access to the subjective experience of other people.

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: Dept. of Psychology, University of Paris 8, Paris, France.

Publication date: January 1, 1999

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