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Consciousness as a Mode of Being

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We suggest a teleological approach to subjective experiencing or phenomenal consciousness. Like living, subjective experiencing is a teleology-constituting mode of being, which is made up of coupled, functional processes. We explicate our notion of a 'teleological mode of being' and distinguish between three different modes: a living (non-sentient) mode of being, a sentient mode of being, and a rational-symbolic (human) mode of being, which correspond to the three levels of soul suggested by Aristotle. These evolved teleological modes of being are characterized by the possession of distinct, hierarchically nested goals and value systems. We argue that the functions of parts and processes within living systems have to be situated within the appropriate teleological frame of reference. Our evolutionary and comparative approach to the mode of being of subjectively experiencing animals clarifies why functions are best attributed to the parts that constitute sentience. Our proposal resolves the problem of attributing functions to phenomenal consciousness, resonates with basic teleological intuitions and distinctions, and corresponds to the modern broad understanding of selection and evolution.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Natural Sciences, The Open University of Israel, 1 University Road, 4353701 Raanana, Israel., Email: [email protected]

Publication date: January 1, 2020

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