Locating Consciousness: Why Experience Can't Be Objectified
The world appears to conscious creatures in terms of experienced sensory qualities, but science doesn't find sensory experience in that world, only physical objects and properties. I argue that the failure to locate consciousness in the world is a function of our necessarily representational relation to reality as knowers: we won't discover the terms in which reality is represented by us in the world as it appears in those terms. Qualia -- arguably a type of representational content -- will therefore not be found in the physical world as characterized in experience or science. Instead, consciousness constitutes a subjective, representational reality for cognitive systems such as ourselves, and the physical world is a represented objective reality. I suggest that naturalistic approaches to explaining consciousness should acknowledge the non-objectivity of experience, and be constrained by evidence that consciousness accompanies certain sorts of behaviour-controlling representational functions carried out by complex, physically instantiated mind-systems. I evaluate a variety of current hypotheses about consciousness, and suggest that a mature science of representation may help explain why, perhaps as matter of representational necessity, experience arises as a natural but not objectively discoverable phenomenon.
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