Phenomenal and Representational Character of Conscious Experience

Sandhān : Journal of Centre for Studies in Civilizations (1 & 2):59-92 (2017)
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My aim in this paper is to critically evaluate the debate surrounding the distinction between phenomenal and representational character of conscious experience which is one of the important debates in contemporary philosophy of mind and consciousness studies. The main objective of this paper is to seek an answer to the question- whether the content of conscious experience is phenomenal or intentional, or both? In the introduction, I will introduce the phenomenal and representational as two significant properties of consciousness. In the first part, I will articulate the debate regarding the distinction between phenomenal and representational character of consciousness. Here I will argue that the phenomenal and representational properties of experience are not mutually exclusive of each other as many philosophers have taken them to be and one can be understood in relation to the other. In relation to the above distinction, many theories of consciousness have been developed emphasizing on the one or the other property of consciousness. My second objective in this paper is to argue against the strong or reductive representationalism. In relation to this, I will discuss Michael Tye’s position as a representative of strong representationalism. In the third part, I will argue against it drawing sources from the works of various non-reductive representationalists particularly from Tim Crane’s version of representationalism. In the final section, I will try to defend a position which may be called phenomenological representationalism where I will try to reconcile the divide between phenomenology and intentionality. In this context, I will argue, on the one hand, against the Cartesian notion of subjectivity which leads to pure phenomenal consciousness and, on the other hand, against the physical explanation of consciousness which leads to strong representationalism.

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Manoj Panda
Presidency University


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