Consciousness and Mind by David Rosenthal

By David Rosenthal

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Extra resources for Consciousness and Mind

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In sections II and III, then, I go on to argue that the non-Cartesian explanation can save the phenomenological appearances and explain the data of consciousness as well as the more familiar Cartesian picture. And I argue there that the standard considerations that favor the Cartesian view are baseless. In section IV I conclude with some observations about consciousness and our knowledge of the mental, and about the actual significance of the insights that underlie the Cartesian picture. I. All mental states, of whatever sort, exhibit properties of one of two types: intentional properties and phenomenal, or sensory, properties.

Why do we construe as a single category the class of states that have one or the other of these two kinds of properties? It does not help to note that some mental states, for example, perceptual states, have both sorts of characteristic. Despite the existence of such mongrel cases, it seems unlikely that pure phenomenal states, such as pains, have anything interesting in common with pure intentional states, such as beliefs. And we can avoid this difficulty if, instead, we take consciousness to be what makes a state a mental state.

Having a conscious mental state without introspectively focusing on it is having the second-order thought without the third-order thought. It may seem slightly odd that each of these hierarchies of conscious mental states has a nonconscious thought at its top. But whatever air of paradox there seems to be here is dispelled by the commonsense truism that we cannot be conscious of everything at once. One might urge against the present account that higher-order thoughts are unnecessary to explain the consciousness of mental states.

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