Consciousness and its contents: A response to de Quincey

Journal of Consciousness Studies 14 (3):107-112 (2007)
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'Consciousness' is used in different ways, but not all of these uses reflect clear concepts. In his target article Christian de Quincey (2006) notes that confusion about consciousness is widespread and sets out to distinguish two main meanings of the word. However, his treatment of the subject is confused and the proposed distinction misses the point. I argue that the effort to clarify the meaning of consciousness should proceed in a different direction. We should first find some empirical criterion that allows one to distinguish between being conscious and being unconscious of something in some typical cases. Then we may try to envisage other cases in which a person or animal may be conscious or unconscious of something. Finally, we should try to understand what the difference is between these states. These three lines are developed in this paper.

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