Is Consciousness Epiphenomenal? Comment on Susan Pockett

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Abstract:

In a provocative article published in the Journal of Consciousness Studies, Susan Pockett (2004) argues for the plausibility of considering consciousness as an epiphenomenon of neural activity. This means that consciousness, though caused by the brain, would not in its turn have any role in the causation of neural activity and, consequently, of behaviour. Critical for her argument is the distinction she makes between 'consciousness per se' and 'the neural processing that accompanies it' (p. 26). In her discussion, though, the author begs the question concerning whether there really is such 'consciousness itself, as distinct from the neural processing that goes with it' (p. 32, added emphasis). If consciousness as it exists happens not to be distinct from some sort of neural processing, then Pockett's 'consciousness per se' has no causal effect simply because it does not exist.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Laboratory of Cognition and Language, UENF, Campos, Brazil ., Email: ggomes@uenf.br

Publication date: January 1, 2005

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