Self‐awareness and the mind‐brain problem

Philosophical Psychology 8 (2):155-65 (1995)
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Abstract

The prima facie heterogeneity between psychical and physical phenomena seems to be a serious objection to psychoneural identity thesis, according to many authors, from Leibniz to Popper. It is argued that this objection can be superseded by a different conception of consciousness. Consciousness, while being conscious of something, is always unconscious of itself . Consciousness of being conscious is not immediate, it involves another, second-order, conscious state. The appearance of mental states to second-order consciousness does not reveal their true nature. Psychoneural identity can thus be considered a valid hypothesis. Related views of Kant, Freud, Shaffer, Bunge and others are considered. “Naive psychical realism” is criticised. Consciousness of mental events is considered as the result of the action of a cerebral system that observes the neural events hypothetically identical to mental events. The theory combines a materialist view with a due consideration of subjective experience.

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