Kinds of Consciousness

In Benjamin D. Young & Carolyn Dicey Jennings (eds.), Mind, Cognition, and Neuroscience: A Philosophical Introduction. Routledge (2021)
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Consciousness is central to our lived experience. It is unsurprising, then, that the topic has captivated many students, neuroscientists, philosophers, and other theorists working in cognitive science. But consciousness may seem especially difficult to explain. This is in part because the term “consciousness” has been used in many different ways. The goal of this chapter is to explore several kinds of consciousness: what theorists have called “creature,” “phenomenal,” “access,” “state,” “transitive,” “introspective,” and “self” consciousness. The basic distinctions among these kinds of consciousness are described in Section 1. Section 2 raises potential challenges for explaining these varieties of consciousness and describes a few current theories of them. Section 3 closes the chapter by exploring directions for future work in the cognitive science of consciousness. Along the way, some of the possible interrelationships among these kinds of consciousness are discussed.

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Jacob Berger
Lycoming College


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