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Stable Instabilities in the Study of Consciousness: A Potentially Integrative Prologue?

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The purpose of this special issue and the conference that inspired it was to address the issue of conceptual integration in a science of consciousness. We felt this to be important, for while current efforts to scientifically investigate consciousness are taking place in an interdisciplinary context, it often seems as though the very terms being used to sustain a sense of interdisciplinary cooperation are working against it. This is because it is this very array of common concepts that generates a sense of unity among consciousness researchers, despite the fact the concepts mean different things in different disciplines. These Concepts of Consciousness include the following: realism, representation, intentionality, information, control, memory and self. Given this list, we believed we could best approach the issue of potential conceptual integration by addressing each concept from different perspectives and asking the following: (1) how do uses of the concept differ, (2) must these meanings be synthesized in order for there to be a unified science of consciousness, (3) is a unified conceptual scheme necessary to establish an independent science of consciousness, (4) is a unified conceptual scheme possible, (5) if it is not possible, why not, and (6) if it is possible, what might it look like? To this end we invited, for each concept, two scholars who made extensive use of the identified concept in their work. The papers entailed in this special issue constitute the outcome of this effort, and in what follows we offer a brief examination of possible forms of integration the papers seem to collectively suggest.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Psychology, Campus Box 4620, Illinois State University, Normal, IL 61760-4620, USA, Email:

Publication date: January 1, 2007


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