Meanings Attributed to the Term Consciousness: An Overview

Journal of Consciousness Studies 16 (5):9-27 (2009)
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I here describe meanings attributed to the term consciousness, extracted from the literature and from recent online discussions. Forty such meanings were identified and categorized according to whether they were principally about function or about experience; some overlapped but others were apparently mutually exclusive - and this list is by no means exhaustive. Most can be regarded as expressions of authors' views about the basis of con-sciousness, or opinions about the significance of aspects of its con-tents. The prospects for reaching any single, agreed, theory independent definition of consciousness thus appear remote. How-ever, much confusion could be avoided if authors were always to spec-ify which aspects of consciousness they refer to when using the term. An example is outlined of how this can be done

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Ram Vimal
Vision Research Institute


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