Clarifying the conception of consciousness: Lonergan, Chalmers, and confounded epistemology

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Applying Bernard Lonergan's (1957/1992, 1972) analysis of intentional consciousness and its concomitant epistemology, this paper highlights epistemological confusion in contemporary consciousness studies as exemplified mostly in David Chalmers's (1996) position. In ideal types, a first section outlines two epistemologies-sensate-modeled and intelligence-based-whose difference significantly explains the different positions. In subsequent sections, this paper documents the sensate-modeled epistemology in Chalmers's position and consciousness studies in general. Tellingly, this model of knowing is at odds with the formal-operational theorizing in twentieth-century science. This paper then links this epistemology with functionalism and its focus on descriptive efficient causality in external behaviors and its oversight of explanatory formal causality; highlights the theoretical incoherence of the understanding of science in the functionalist approach; connects it with the construal of consciousness as primarily intentional (i.e., directed toward an object) to the neglect of consciousness as conscious (i.e., constituted by a non-objectified self-presence); and relates this outcome to the reduction of human consciousness to animal-like perception and mechanistic interactions. A brief conclusion summarizes these multiple, subtle, and interconnected considerations and suggests how only an intellectual epistemology would be adequate to the intellectual nature of human consciousness and the world of meaning, not of mere bodies, in which humans exist.
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Archival date: 2016-01-24
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