The Three Circles of Consciousness

In M. Guillot & M. Garcia-Carpintero (eds.), The Sense of Mineness. Oxford University Press (forthcoming)
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A widespread assumption in current philosophy of mind is that a conscious state’s phenomenal properties vary with its representational contents. In this paper, I present (rather dogmatically) an alternative picture that recognizes two kinds of phenomenal properties that do not vary concomitantly with content. First, it admits phenomenal properties that vary rather with attitude: what it is like for me to see rain is phenomenally different from what it is like for me to remember (indistinguishable) rain, which is different again from what it is like for me to visualize (indistinguishable) rain – where these differences cannot be traced back to variations in content. Secondly, there is a kind of phenomenal property that varies neither with content nor with attitude but is altogether invariant across all conscious states: a substantive phenomenal commonality among what it is like for me to see, remember, and visualize rain, cats, or dogs. This substantive commonality, I will suggest, is the for-me-ness component of what it is like for me to have any of these experiences. I will close by discussing the interrelations among these three concentric layers of phenomenality: content-based, attitude-based, and for-me-ness.
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