Consciousness and Mind by David Rosenthal

By David Rosenthal

David Rosenthal is without doubt one of the top individuals to the philosophical examine of awareness. This quantity gathers jointly his paintings at the topic from the prior 20 years, and represents the definitive presentation of his influential idea of cognizance as higher-order proposal. of the essays look the following for the 1st time; there's additionally a considerable new creation, drawing out the connections among the essays and highlighting their implications.

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For a mental state to be conscious, the corresponding higher-order thought must be a thought about oneself, that is, a thought about the mental being that is in that conscious state. So, as noted above, we can construe that thought as being, in part, about itself. For it is reasonable to regard the content of the thought as being that whatever individual has this very thought is also in the specified mental state. The sense that there is something reflexive about the consciousness of mental states is thus not due to the conscious state’s being directed upon itself, as is often supposed.

Even if it is only seldom that we know the mental states of others better than they do, when we do, the mental states in question are not degenerate or derivative examples of mentality. Moreover, conscious states are simply mental states we are conscious of being in. So when we are aware that somebody thinks or feels something that that person is initially unaware of thinking or feeling, those thoughts and feelings are at first mental states that are not also conscious states. These considerations suggest a way of looking at things on which we have no more reason to identify being a mental state with being a conscious state than we have to identify physical objects with physical objects that somebody sees.

We normally focus on the sensory state and not on our consciousness of it only because that consciousness consists in our having a higher-order thought, and that thought is usually not itself a conscious thought. There is a strong intuitive sense that the consciousness of mental states is somehow reflexive, or self-referential. But we need not invoke the idea that conscious states are conscious of themselves to explain this intuition. For a mental state to be conscious, the corresponding higher-order thought must be a thought about oneself, that is, a thought about the mental being that is in that conscious state.

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