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Experiencing: A Jamesian Approach

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Abstract:

This paper suggests an approach to consciousness that focuses on the evolutionary transition from pre-conscious animals to the simplest types of conscious (experiencing) animals. Our argument is that experiencing originated with the evolution of associative learning, and that one of the major functions of experiencing was what William James called 'fighting for ends': endowing animals with motivation. We propose that the sensory states generated during associative learning act as internal guides and selectors of new neural relations, new behaviours, and new ends, leading to the unitary, subjective and intentional internal dynamic states that we recognize as experiencing.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Dept. of Natural Science, The Open University of Israel, 1 University Road, P.O.Box 808, Raanana 43107, Israel., Email: simona@openu.ac.il 2: Email: jablonka@post.tau.ac.il

Publication date: 2010-01-01

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