Medieval Approaches to Consciousness: Ockham and Chatton

Philosophers' Imprint 12:1-29 (2012)
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Abstract
My aim in this paper is to advance our understanding of medieval approaches to consciousness by focusing on a particular but, as it seems to me, representative medieval debate. The debate in question is between William Ockham and Walter Chatton over the existence of what these two thinkers refer to as “reflexive intellective intuitive cognition”. Although framed in the technical terminology of late-medieval cognitive psychology, the basic question at issue between them is this: Does the mind (or “intellect”) cognize its own states via higher-order (or “reflexive”) representational states? Their debate is representative both because it highlights the central dialectical issues and alternatives at play in medieval discussions of consciousness generally and because it showcases the two main types of approach to consciousness one finds in the later medieval period, namely, those that explain consciousness in terms of intentionality (typically, higher-order intentionality), and those that understand consciousness as a non-intentional, sui-generis mode of awareness.
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