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Consciousness: A Four-fold Taxonomy

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This paper argues that the many and various conceptions of consciousness propounded by cognitive scientists and philosophers can all be understood as constituted with reference to four fundamental sorts of criterion: epistemic (concerned with kinds of consciousness), semantic (dealing with orders of consciousness), physiological (reflecting states of consciousness), and pragmatic (seeking to capture types of consciousness). The resulting four-fold taxonomy, intended to be exhaustive, suggests that all of the distinct varieties of consciousness currently encountered in cognitive neuroscience, the philosophy of mind, clinical psychology, and other related fields ultimately refer to a unified natural process, analysed under four general aspects. The proposed taxonomy will, it is hoped, possess sufficient clarity to serve as a sound theoretical framework for further scientific studies, and to count as a significant step in the direction of a properly formulated unified concept of consciousness.

Document Type: Research Article

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Publication date: January 1, 2012


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