Consciousness as a Problem of Charles D. Laughlin’s Biogenetic Structuralist Neurophenomenology

Vestnik Tomskogo Gosudarstvennogo Universiteta. Filosofiya. Sotsiologiya. Politologiya – Tomsk State University Journal of Philosophy, Sociology and Political Science 53:141-147 (2020)
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The article deals with the problem of cognition in the framework of the biogenetic structuralist neurophenomenology of Charles Laughlin. The aim of the article is to study the possibilities of applying the biogenetic structuralist theory as a theoretical and methodological basis for the study of consciousness in Laughlin’s theory. A feature of biogenetic structuralism is the interdisciplinary fusion of anthropology, psychology, and neuroscience. The methodology of biogenetic structuralism allows exploring universal structures of consciousness, which are caused by the genetically predisposed organization of the human nervous system. Universal structures of consciousness include structures that mediate human language, knowledge of time and space. It is shown that the problem of cognition is realized in neurognostic models, which are compared with the operational environment. Neurognostic models include both the real nature of man as an organism and the external environment of the organism. Laughlin introduces the concept of a cognitive environment to designate a set of neurognostic models that can potentially be captured by the area of consciousness. He relies on the idea of a cognitive environment, which is essentially intentional in its organization. The polar interaction between the prefrontal cortex and the sensory cortex of the human brain gives rise to the intentionality of consciousness. Laughlin explains the work of the human cerebral cortex neurognostically as omnipresent for human consciousness, and independent of the cultural background. The cerebral cortex is a field of neural activity that arises and dissolves in temporal sequences and coordinates with cognitive processes that connect meaning and form into a single structure in consciousness. The experience of consciousness suggests a sensitive sphere of the cerebral cortex ascertains the meaningful, phenomenal world. The biogenetic structuralist methodology allows to development of an idea of the intentional structure and uniqueness of consciousness. The biogenetic structuralist approach is heuristic for modern science because, firstly, this approach creates the maximum opportunity to include data obtained from naturalistic, ethnographic, anatomical, clinical, and experimental sources; secondly, biogenetic data have the widest empirical and phenomenological rationale; thirdly, biogenetic concepts are defined in the context of a holistic understanding of the phenomenon through the uniqueness of consciousness.

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Anna Shutaleva
Ural Federal University (PhD)


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