Experiential Awareness: Do You Prefer It to Me?

Presenter: Miguel Sebastian, University of Barcelona

Commentator 1: Rocco Gennaro, University of Southern Indiana

Commentator 2: Robert Lurz, Brooklyn College, CUNY

Commentator 3: Kenneth Williford, University of Texas, Arlington

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38 Comments

  1. First of all thanks again to Richard for making this great conference possible.

    I am really thankful to Rocco Gennaro, Robert Lurz and Kenneth Williford for their thoughtful, interesting and useful comments. I hope they find interesting my rejoins and that we have a great discussion.

  2. Hi Miguel Ángel,
    many thanks for your interesting conference!

    I just have some questions in order to understand what I supposed to be some of your main assumptions. I hope not being to misguiding your main point:

    1. In having a conscious experience as of red apple I’m directly aware of a red apple. Following Moore, the conscious experience (merely as the first-order (sensory) state) is transparent (i.e. it might not figure as sensory content). Then, it seems that it’s not, per se, evident (or a platitude, as you claimed) either that, (i), “I’M aware THAT I’m having the experience” or that, (ii), ‘I’M aware OF some feature OF THE STATE that is not exhausted by its content”.

    2. I suspect that it’s very controversial to accept that “experiences are in some sense ABOUT myself”. Broadly speaking, one could claim that experiences are dual-vector states: one vector directed to the world and another one directed to center of a point of view (sometime incorrectly called “the self”). The first vector constitutes, plausibly, the intentional relation to the sensory content (a sort of allocentric intentionality). The second vector constitutes, plausibly, the perspectival content of the state, i.e. the part of the correctness conditions of the state that concerns the subject or, more precisely, that concerns to a center -a sort of egocentric intentionality. In this sense, the contents of sensory experiences are PARTIALLY de se.

    3. Prima facie, in having a sensory experience I’m not, strictly speaking, ATTRIBUTING the property of or any property at all. It seems more intuitive to claim that to have the experience itself constitutes (or entails) the fulfillment of the diadic property: . That property is not attributed BY me, this property takes place once one has sensory experiences (even in cases of illusion or hallucination).

    4. Notwithstanding, to say that an experience is a state which “implicitly mark[s] as mine” doesn’t necessarily entail to distinguish between what constitutes my BODY and what not, but only distinguishing the center and non-centered points with respect to a given perspective (subjective point of view). Explaining such center is not the same that explaining the physical pillars of “phenomenological sense of unity”. If we reduced the perspectival center to a sort of neurofunctional body-image or body-schema, perhaps we will obtain a model which do not apply to cases of complete hallucination.

    Thanks!

  3. Correction a format error: in 3. (…) “Prima facie, in having a sensory experience I’m not, strictly speaking, ATTRIBUTING the property of or any property at all. It seems more intuitive to claim that to have the experience itself constitutes (or entails) the fulfillment of the diadic property: …………… being confronted with an object………….. (…)

  4. Robert Lurz offers in his comment a collection of very interesting questions:

    In the first place Lurz questions whether there is any independent empirical support for the existence de se states in human or animal brains. If there is not, then alternative theories would be preferable on empirical grounds alone.

    My main motivation for endosing an try to develop a form of self-involving representationalism is (as he suggests as a possibility for taking self-involving theories seriously) that alternative accounts fail, or so I think, to account for the subjective character of experience. Furthermore, for reasons not discussed in the paper (some of them briefly mentioned), I aim at offering a first-order account of subjective character.

    I am not sure about what would count as evidence for states with de se content (beyond the fact that we have conscious experiences). I have postulated a model that is committed to the existence of certain structures. In another post I will comment on structures that might implement it and their relation to consciousness.

    Comments 2, 3 and 4 are based on a misunderstanding due to my use of the expression ‘attributing a property’. As Lurz notes in his 5th comment ‘Perhaps nothing more is meant by it than that state S is a state in me that represents in some nonconceptual way that the red apple there is disposed to cause in me under normal conditions.’ This is exactly what I meant. In a couple of footnotes (13 and 15) I intended to be clear about this:

    fn.13 “In order to make a certain partition of the logical space, one does not require to posses the concepts required to express this proposition, in spite of the fact that the proposition is usually expressed by a sentence….experiences have correctness conditions, make partitions in the space of possibilities, independently on whether the individuals undergoing them have the conceptual resources to express such a conditions.” and fn.15 “Let me remark once again that the fact that the content of an experience be expresable through these complex English sentences does not entail that the subject need to have the corresponding conceptual capacity in order to have an experience.”

    Given the relevance of Lurz’s questions maybe these footnotes should have been in the main text.

    I think that this clarification deflates the possible objections in these points (we can distinguish the phenomenal state and its content from the judgement we make on the basis of this state) but I might be going to quick here in which case I apologize and we can discuss further during the conference.

    In his 5th comment Lurz rise a serious challenge for the theory: the case of cognitive phenomenology.

    In my previous research I have focused on sensory phenomenology and only recently I have begining to seriously considere cases of cognitive phenomenology.

    One possible reply (one that I do not want to commit myself to, but which is easily compatible with the presented model) would be to hold a conservative position with regard to cognitive phenomenology and argue that cognitive phenomenology reduces to sensory phenomenology, like subvocalization, emotions, etc or to argue that cognitive states have a distinctive phenomenology on the basis of their attitudinal character, which should be unpacked in a similar way as emotions, confusion, curiosity, etc. Prinz and Hobson, for example, have defended this last position in print.

    In his 6th comment, Lurz questions whether the presented model is too inclusive: if conscious states are states with de se content, then there would be something it is like for me to have the believe that the object O is causing an experience with phenomenal character PC in me; even when I am not undergoung an experience with phenomenal character PC or, even worst as he suggests, in a hypothetical case in which I have this unconscious believe and no experience at all.

    I advocate a form of impure (see for instance, Chalmers 2004) representationalism (this is not made explicit in the paper and Lurz is completely right in his complain) according to which, phenomenally conscious states are states that represent a certain content in a certain manner (non-conceptually). States like the above mentioned believe do not have this kind of content and, therefore, they do not qualify as phenomenally conscious states according to the theory.

  5. Rocco Gennaro concentrates on 4 areas in his comments:

    1. Claim that WIV (Gennaro’s theory) incorporates both SI and MSI elements

    2. Distinguish between those MSI views which treat the self-awareness in question as directed at part of the overall conscious state and those which hold that it is directed back at the entire conscious state.

    3. Defend that Kriegel’s theory also incorporate SI and MSI elements.

    4. Distinguish between CSA and USA

    I think I agree with most of what Gennaro claims in 2. In particular it seems to me that Gennaro is right in his claim that “bringing in parts of conscious states seems unavoidable if one wants to preserve some kind of naturalistic notion of self-reference in mental state consciousness.” and I do not know of any reductive theory that holds a FO-MSI-without-state-parts position.

    In 3, Gennaro maintains that Kriegel’s theory incorporates a self-involving element: “After all, Kriegel clearly invokes a “for me” element in his theory under the name “subjective character” of conscious states.” and continues “Doesn’t the “as mine” imply the SI view?”

    This “as mine” is what, I think, a theory of subjective character has to explain and it seems to me that this element is the one that is invoked by Kriegel in his vindication (one of the clearest I have read and where I have learned the most about this topic) of the need of a theory of subjective character. However, when one looks into the details one is left with a theory of how a state can come to represent itself (hence, the label ‘MSI’). Now, if I am right in my understanding of the issue, and what requires a further explanation is this ‘as mine’ element, Kriegel’s theory turns out to be unsatisfactory, or so I claim.

    I have maintained that a sense of self is required in an explanation (with reductivist aspirations) of subjective character. This does not ential that a concept of self is required in order to undergo phenomenally conscious experiences (it would be required in a HO thought theory for instance but not in mine).

    This brings me back to the first point where Gennaro claims that WIV is also self-involving. I have probably misclassified WIV as a MSI theory. My claim was based on the discussion in the literature (which focuses on how a state represents another) and on not knowing an account of the reference fixing mechanisms of the essentially indexical ‘I’ element in the higher-order thought (Rosenthal has offered such an account in his 2005 book and in a very recent paper, but I am not sure that this is one Gennaro is willing to buy it) Gennaro elaborates on this topic in his new book, which I, still, have not be able to read. I am really looking forward to read it!

    My motivation for preferring a FO to a HO theory has to do, among other things, with the problems of misrepresentation. If the relation between the first-order state and the higher-order one is that of representation, then it has to make room for cases of misrepresentation and I think this is a problem.

    In his 4th comment Gennaro makes a distinction between those views that treat the self-awareness of a conscious state (CSA) as itself conscious and those that treat it as unconscious (USA). I am not sure about how to posit myself in this dicotomy, probably because I have not propertly understood the purpose of the distinction for the discussion.

    I do not claim that a self is manifest in the experience as an object (my theory would be USA in this sense –and agree with the humean claim) but as a subject (I am not sure about whether it will therefore qualify as CSA). I have appealed to a centered world semantics to make sense of the former claim. I intend this to make sense of a statements like the following that I take to be true of all our experiences (Gallagher and Zahavi 2010):

    “All the experiences are characterized by a quality of mineness or for-me-ness, the fact that it is I who am having these experiences. All the experiences are given (at least tacitly) as my experiences, as experiences I am undergoing or living through. All of this suggests that first-person experience presents me with an immediate and non-observational access to myself, and that consequently (phenomenal) consciousness consequently entails a (minimal) form of self-consciousness.”

  6. Kenneth Williford offers two main lines of criticism to my paper. He argues that in the paper I dismiss MSI theories too quickly (that I have not taken the position of my opponent seriously) and that the proposed model is targeted by Shoemaker’s argument.

    I think that Williford first criticism is a fair one, so let me clarify a couple of points that I think might be relevant for further discussion of the interesting issues he raises in his comments.

    In the first place, let me remark that I am interested in reductive theories of consciousness, more precisely in providing a characterization of the subjective character in representational terms. My criticism is directed to theories with the similar aims (although in the paper I acknowledge the origin of some of the relevant ideas in the writtings of philosopher with different worries)

    Williford seems to agrees that “we all spontaneously experience our conscious mental episodes as being our own” but that, he goes on, “phenomenology of “mineness” is not great evidence for its existence [of a self]” and that “the substantial self is, plausibly, not given phenomenologically.”
    I totally agree that any substantial self is given phenomenologically as an object as it is, say my computer, in my current visual experience. All our conscious experiences seem to share such a phenomenology of “mineness” and this is what I, like so many others, attempt to explain.

    One important and interesting remark that Williford makes is the following: “When it is said that Sartre had a “non-­‐egological” theory of consciousness, what is meant is essentially this: the self-­‐manifesting (self-­‐representing, if you like) character of consciousness is prior to any more articulated conceptions of the self.”

    I think I agree with this. No concept of self is required to undergo a conscious experience. I have argued that a concept of self is required to provide an explanation of the subjective character in representational terms. The difference between MSI and SI theories, if subjective character is to be unpacked in representational terms is whether the correctness conditions of the experience concern the subject that is undergoing the experience or merely the experience itself. In the former case, we need to spell out what are the subjects of experience (in my view subjects are organisms but one does not require to have the concept of an organism to undergo a conscious experience) and in what sense they are part of the content (as subjects in my view); in the later, we need to explain how a state represents itself and under which circumstances this gives rise to the phenomenology of mineness.

    Williford notes that some philosophers like Sartre elaborate on the sense of an autobiographical self emerging on the basis of the primordial reflexivity of consciousness. I am not sure what is the relevance of an autobiographical self for the discussion. Rudolf Lingens arguably misses such an autobiographical self while he walks in Main Library at Stanford (Perry 1977) but undergo all kind of experiences as his (I do not think that if he had a headache, his experience would differ in a relevant sense from mine).

    The most well developed FO-MSI theory, to the best of my knowledge, is Kriegel’s. However, in his theory we end up with an understanding of how a state represents itself and this seems to be insufficient to provide a reductive account of the phenomenology of mineness.

    Sartre tried to show how a postulated structure of consciousness may give rise such a phenomenology of mineness (I am not sure about what justifies the alleged reflexive structure of consciousness beyond this mineness element and the fear that a self-involving theory would commit us to some unacceptable notion of ego –of course postulating such an structure might be explanatorily useful as in Sartre). I do not know any reductive account that have tried to elaborate on Sartre’s ideas and I am not sure about how to make use of them.

    One might try to elaborate on the idea that the correctness condition of experience concern the stream of consciousness of which the conscious state is a part of. I still fail to see how this kind of relations between states (broadly understood) might give rise to any kind of self-ascription as in the phenomenology of mineness. In any case, a theory of how a state represents itself is insufficient for this purpose. One would need to elaborate on the relation that holds between the states in the stream and the stream itself. This relation seems not to be (but I might, of course, be wrong) that between proper parts in a metaphysical complex, what would allow indirect representation as in Kriegel’s theory. Many previous and posterior experiences seem not to be essential to the phenomenal character of say my pain experience.

    Finally, I do not see what supports the claim that the mineness component is missing in “very young children, in a lot of animals, in late stage Alzheimer’s patients, in people having really intense Salvia Divinorum or Datura trips, etc.” My guess is that what is missing in those cases is reflective self-consciousness or in some cases more complex and demanding foms of self as an autobiographical self but not the mineness component. I see no pre-theoretical reason to doubt that a pre-reflective self consciousness to be unpacked in the terms presented in the paper is present in all these cases.

    I disagree (it was to be expected) with Williford analysis in his second objection.

    In my view it is not Damasio’s notion of core self what plays the explanatory role, nor there is any ego-object. I claim that the content of experience is de se (understood following Shoemaker, Castañeda, Chisholm, Lewis, etc) and appeal to a centered world semantic to offer an undertanding of it. On top of that I aim at offering the basics of a possible metasemantic in naturalistic compatible terms (I do not know of any alternative one).

    Williford claims that “somehow I’d need to know, wouldn’t I, that that “organism” represented is me or is mine!” This doesn’t follow from my account, knowing that this organism represented is mine would require in the first place having concepts like organism, which is not required by my model.

    In my model the reference to the organism does not involve the identification of the organism with oneself –this is what, Shoemaker argues, and I agree, is problematic– but what Shoemaker calls identification as a subject (provided by the role that the PQ plays in the regulation of the very same organism that the proto-self regulates).

  7. Hi Carlos thanks a lot for your comments

    1. Many philosophers have argued, and I agree, that providing an account of the awareness of the red apple is not sufficient for having an account of conscious experience. A conscious experience is one I am AWARE of undergoing. I aim at understanding this second relation.

    2. I have tried to motivate the claim in my paper. See also the quote from Gallaguer and Zahavi in my reply to Gennaro. I agree with them that all experiences are characterized by this quality of mineness or for-meness. I think that this justifies the claim that “experiences are in some sense about myself”, but see Williford comments.

    3. See my reply to Robert Lurz, with the expression ‘attributing a property’ I mean the same as ‘representing a property’.

    4. You are right, I do not think that from the fact that one undergoes states with de se content logically follows that one has to distinguish what constitutes myself as an organism and what doesn’t. I merely took this distinction as a resonable starting point for constructing a metasemantic theory of de se content.

  8. Hi Miguel Ángel,

    Thanks for your answer.
    After having read the replies to Lurz, Williford, and Gennaro, I consider that there are some points on which I would like to get more clarity. In principle, to understand the ideas supporting your pillar assumptions. Let me go deeper in some points:

    Two points derived from you main motivation: “All our conscious experiences seem to share such a phenomenology of “mineness” and this is what I, like so many others, attempt to explain”:

    1. You are trying to motivate the claim that sensory conscious states are ABOUT myself. I agree with you, Gallaguer, Zahavi, and others that all sensory conscious states “are characterized by this quality of mineness or for-meness”. We could capture the idea as follows: e.g., ONE HAS an experience (as) of a red square only if there is something (as) for me to be undergone. Here arises a problem with specifying the conditional: option1-only if there is a red square (as) for me to be undergone or, option 2- only if there is an experience (as) for me to be undergone (if I experience the experience). If we chooses 2 (even whether this is the case or not), the conditional will be circular: ‘ONE HAS an experience (as) of a red square only if there is an experience (as) for me to be undergone’. Otherwise, one could claim that option 1 is a necessary, but not a sufficient condition.
    THE PROBLEM:
    -How could we capture the option 2 (“(minimal) form of self-consciousness”) as a necessary condition for having experiences without incurring in explanatory circularity?
    -There are involved two concepts of ‘experience’?

    1.1. Moreover, the fact that to have an experience entails that there is something FOR a subject, S, to be undergone doesn’t (per se) entail that the experience is, also, ABOUT S. Another way of presenting the idea could lie in to claim that every experience carries information OF its possessor (or constituting S). Prima facie, such an information is not representationally salient, i.e. it is not directly detected by the subject. So, the notion of ABOUTNESS (in the claim: an experience is about myself) seems to differ from the notion of mere sensory ABOUTNESS (?).

    With respect to my 4th objection.
    You claimed: “I merely took this distinction as a resonable starting point for constructing a metasemantic theory of de se content.” This is exactly, I think, what it seems to be problematic: a metasemantic theory of de se content must account for the distinction between who experiences and what it is to be experienced. Why does you think that to offer “the basics of a possible metasemantic[s] IN NATURALISTIC COMPATIBLE terms is more “reasonable”?

    Thanks!

  9. Hello Miguel — I’m glad to hear that you agree with my point #2.

    I can understand that the misrepresentation problem is in the background — I’ve struggled with it in the past but do spend much more time on it in my new book (esp in ch 4). I do disagree with Rosenthal’s answer to the problem. Here’s an excerpt:

  10. Woops….Meant to add this from Ch. 4 of my book:….. I sometimes use “MET” (meta-psychological thought) instead of “HOT” — More later –

    4.2 Misrepresentation: A First Pass
    4.2.1 Levine’s Case
    With regard to the problem of misrepresentation, I focus first on the way
    that Levine (2001) presents this objection against all HO theories. He credits
    Neander (1998) for an earlier version of this objection under the heading
    of the “division of phenomenal labor.” The idea is that when “we are dealing
    with a representational relation between two states, the possibility of
    misrepresentation looms” (Levine 2001, 108). Levine argues that standard
    HOT theory cannot explain what would occur when the higher- order (HO)
    state misrepresents the lower- order (LO) state. The main example used is
    based on color perception, though the objection could presumably extend
    to other kinds of conscious states. Levine says:
    Suppose I am looking at my red diskette case, and therefore my visual system is in
    state R. According to HO, this is not suffi cient for my having a conscious experience
    of red. It’s also necessary that I occupy a higher- order state, say HR, which represents
    my being in state R, and thus constitutes my being aware of having the reddish visual
    experience. . . . Suppose because of some neural misfi ring (or whatever), I go into
    higher- order state HG, rather than HR. HG is the state whose representation content
    is that I’m having a greenish experience, what I normally have when in state G. The
    question is, what is the nature of my conscious experience in this case? My visual
    system is in state R, the normal response to red, but my higher- order state is HG,
    the normal response to being in state G, itself the normal response to green. Is my
    consciousness of the reddish or greenish variety? (Levine 2001, 108)
    Levine initially points out that we should reject two possible answers:
    Option 1 : The resulting conscious experience is of a greenish sort.
    Option 2 : The resulting conscious experience is of a reddish sort.
    I agree that options one and two are arbitrary and poorly motivated. Option
    one would make it seem as if “the first- order state plays no genuine role in
    determining the qualitative character of experience” (Levine 2001, 108).
    The main problem is that one wonders what the point of having both a LO
    and HO state is if only one of them determines the conscious experience.
    Moreover, HOT theory is supposed to be a theory of (intransitive) state
    consciousness; that is, the lower- order state is supposed to be the conscious
    one. On the other hand, if we choose option two, then we have the same
    problem, except now it becomes unclear what role the HO state plays. It
    would then seem that HOTs are generally not needed for conscious experience,
    which would obviously be disastrous for any HO theorist. Either
    way, then, options one and two seem to undermine the relational aspect of
    HOT theory. Thus Levine says: “When the higher- order state misrepresents
    the lower- order state, which content—higher- order or lower- order—determines
    the actual quality of experience? What this seems to show is that one
    can’t divorce the quality from the awareness of the quality” (2001, 168).
    It is important to point out here that Rosenthal defends Levine’s option
    one. For example, with respect to “targetless” HOTs, where there is no LO
    state at all, Rosenthal explains that the resulting conscious state might just
    be subjectively indistinguishable from one in which both occur (Rosenthal 1997, 744; cf. 2005, 217). I find this view highly implausible, as I have
    already mentioned. It also seems to me that since the HOT is itself unconscious,
    there would not be a conscious state at all unless there is also the accompanying
    LO state. We would merely have an unconscious HOT without
    a target state, which by itself cannot result in a conscious state. Levine says,
    “Doesn’t this give the game away? . . . Then conscious experience is not in
    the end a matter of a relation between two (non- conscious) states” (2001,
    190). On the other hand, I argue that the self- reference and complexity of
    conscious states in the WIV rule out this kind of misrepresentation. If we
    have a MET but no M at all (or vice versa), then what would be the entire
    conscious state does not exist and thus cannot be conscious. A CMS will
    exist only when its two parts exist and the proper relation holds between
    them.
    Returning to the foregoing example, both Levine (2001, 108–109) and
    Neander (1998, 429–430) do recognize that other options are open to the
    HO theorist, but they quickly dismiss them. I focus on Levine’s treatment
    of these alternatives and argue that they are more viable than he thinks.
    Option 3 : “When this sort of case occurs, there is no consciousness at all”
    (Levine 2001, 108).
    Option 4 : “A better option is to ensure correct representation by pinning
    the content of the higher- order state directly to the first- order state” (Levine
    2001, 108).
    First, we must be clear about what Levine means, in option three, by “no
    consciousness at all.” Presumably he does not mean that the hypothetical
    person in question would be completely unconscious. This would be a puzzling
    consequence of any HO theory and would also confuse creature consciousness
    with state consciousness. So it would seem that Levine’s option
    three is really saying that, in such cases of misrepresentation, the person
    has neither the greenish nor the reddish conscious experience. But then it
    becomes unclear why Levine rejects option three as ad hoc (2001, 108).
    What exactly is so ad hoc about that reply? HOT theory says that when
    one has a conscious mental state M, it is accompanied by a HOT that “I am
    in M.” If there isn’t a “match” (that is, an accurate representation) between
    a HOT concept and the content of a lower- order state, then it seems perfectly
    appropriate for the HOT theorist to hold that something like option
    three is a legitimate possibility. After all, this is an abnormal case where
    applying the HOT theory could not be expected to result in a normal conscious
    state. We are not told just how unlikely or unusual such a scenario
    is. Levine’s thought experiment lacks an important level of detail. Recall
    that we are simply told to “suppose because of some neural misfiring (or
    whatever).” Perhaps there would be no resulting conscious color experience
    of the diskette case at all. Alternatively, if specific brain lesions are involved,
    perhaps the subject would at least experience a loss of color vision (achromatopsia)
    with a diskette case perception. It seems to me that option three
    is not at all implausible: if misrepresentation occurs between M and MET,
    then no conscious state results. At the very least, if a misrepresentation occurs
    between some of the relevant concepts in M and MET, then that aspect
    of the conscious state would not exist. To use an oversimplistic analogy: if
    I call my friend Tom and there is something wrong with his phone or the
    connection, then no phone conversation will take place.
    This brings us to the so- called better option in option four, which also
    seems plausible and sounds very much like the WIV. In a sense, defending
    option three might lead one naturally to option four. Indeed, they seem to
    be two sides of the same coin because option three is also, in essence, claiming
    that a match, with respect to the relevant concepts involved, between
    a HOT (or MET) and a lower- order state must be “ensured” to result in a
    conscious experience. Levine does mention two problems with this fourth
    approach, but I am puzzled by his remarks. He first asks, “What if the higherorder
    state is triggered randomly, so that there’s no first- order sensory state
    it’s pointing at? Would that entail a sort of free- floating conscious state
    without a determinate character?” (Levine 2001, 109). I will discuss targetless
    HOTs further in the next subsection, but the answer to Levine’s second
    question is clearly no, because you would merely have an unconscious HOT
    without a target state, as was noted earlier. An unconscious HOT, by itself,
    cannot result in a conscious state of any kind unless a yet further thirdorder
    state is directed at it. Second , Levine simply expresses puzzlement as
    to how option four “overcomes the basic problem . . . [which] is that it just
    doesn’t work to divide phenomenal labor” (Levine 2001, 109; cf. Levine
    2006). But this is not really another objection aimed at option four or HOT
    theory—it merely repeats Levine’s conclusion.
    In addition, when Levine says that my “visual system is in state R . . . but
    my higher- order state is HG,” this is misleading and perhaps even begs the
    question against the HO theory. What encompasses the “visual system”?
    Levine assumes that it is only the lower- order state R. However, if HOT
    theory (or the WIV) is true, it seems much more plausible to treat the entire
    system (including both the lower- order and higher- order state) as parts of
    the visual system in this case. Thus the visual system (or at least the conscious
    visual system) would have to contain R and HR, so that there would be
    a conscious reddish experience (even if an idle HG state also exists). Perhaps
    option two is thus not so arbitrary after all. At the least, the hypothetical
    scenario would seem to be misdescribed or just assumes the falsity of the
    HOT theory. HOTs (or METs) should be understood as part of the visual
    system when one is having a first- order conscious perception of any kind.
    In this case, then, we should also say that R and HR are each necessary for
    having a reddish experience, but neither one is sufficient by itself. R and HR
    are jointly sufficient.
    Nonetheless I think that Levine and Neander have, in a somewhat indirect
    way, hit upon one important and potentially troubling issue regarding
    the nature of HOT theory. Levine’s argument may indeed contain a grain
    of truth, namely, that it is difficult to make sense of entirely splitting off the
    lower- order state from the HOT, as standard HOT theory claims. Thus he is
    grappling with a deeper issue that must be addressed by any HOT theorist.
    It is perhaps best expressed when Levine says that HOT theory has difficulty
    with “the paradoxical duality of qualitative experiences: there is an awareness
    relation, which ought to entail that there are two states serving as the
    relevant relata, yet experience doesn’t seem to admit of this sort of bifurcation.
    Let’s call this the problem of ‘duality’” (Levine 2001, 168).
    The problem of duality (and misrepresentation) is important, but I
    think it can ultimately be handled best by adopting the WIV. The WIV can
    help to alleviate some of the puzzlement expressed by both Neander and
    Levine. For example, a proponent of the WIV can respond that conscious
    experience (from the first- person point of view) does not seem to allow
    for a split (“bifurcation”) between the lower- order and higher- order states.
    However, the “awareness relation” does not entail the existence of two entirely
    separate states. Instead, according to the WIV, we have two parts of
    a single conscious state with one part directed at (“aware of”) the other. In
    short, we have a complex conscious mental state with an inner intrinsic
    relation between parts. There is thus a kind of “self- referential” or “selfrepresentational”
    element to conscious states. This element of self- reference
    seems to rule out the kind of misrepresentation that threatens HOT theory,
    because if a MET is misrepresenting M (or if there is no M at all), then what
    would be the proper entire conscious state does not exist and thus cannot be
    conscious. A CMS cannot represent itself (or part of itself) if it doesn’t exist
    in the first place. According to the WIV, a CMS will exist only when its
    two parts exist and the proper relation holds between them. Moreover, the
    MET refers back to a part of the CMS (of which MET is also part), so there
    would be no complex CMS if there is no M at all or if the MET is somehow
    inaccurately representing M. In standard HOT theory, no such claims can
    be made because the M and HOT are entirely distinct existences.
    In any case, Neander credits Barry Loewer for an “ingenious suggestion
    that might be worth pursuing”:
    The suggestion is that the two levels of representation might be collapsed into one
    level that is self- referential . . . . This suggestion also rids us of the division of phenomenal
    labor, while still allowing us to maintain that the difference between conscious
    and unconscious sensory representations is that some of them are meta- represented
    and some are not. Since the fi rst and second- order representings no longer involve
    two separate representations . . . the two cannot come apart, so mis- (meta- )representation
    is in principle impossible. (Neander 1998, 429–430)
    This sounds familiar, but Neander unfortunately also dismisses this option
    too quickly. As I have argued, I think it is a truly viable option that can help
    to counter Levine’s problem of duality. Consider the claims that, according
    to the WIV,
    (1) There is no resulting conscious state when a misrepresentation does
    occur, and
    (2) Misrepresentations cannot occur.
    I am honestly unsure which view is preferable, but either one seems plausible.
    Indeed, (1) and (2), like Levine’s options three and four, seem to be
    two sides of the same coin. As a practical matter, it doesn’t really matter
    very much. Statement (2) should really be understood as
    (2′) Misrepresentations cannot occur between M and MET and still result in
    a conscious state .

  11. Miguel — Based also on your response to Ken W., it seems to me that you probably do (or should?) hold something more like what I call “USA”. That is, if you are after a reductionist account of consciousness, it’s much easier for me to see why you would (or should) reject CSA and Kreigel’s account. Indeed, in that case, I don’t see how you could accept CSA if your aims are reductionist. However, in response to Ken, you also say the following which then leads me to doubt that you do hold a USA position:

    “I totally agree that any substantial self is given phenomenologically as an object as it is, say my computer, in my current visual experience. All our conscious experiences seem to share such a phenomenology of “mineness” and this is what I, like so many others, attempt to explain.”

  12. Carlos, I hope you find these clarifications helpful:

    If one want to explain a conscious experience as of a red apple (the ordinary experience you undergo when you look at an apple) in representational terms there are two relations that one has to explain: the relation between the state and certain properties of the apple and the relation between the state and itself (MSI) or the subject that undergoes the experience (SI). If it is the latter, then it is a special relation and essentially different from the one that holds between the state and the properties of the apple, as philosophers like Shoemaker, Castañeda, Perry, etc have noted.

    If I replace your word ‘experience’ by ‘representation’ in “if I experience the experience” you seem to be puzzled by the fact that a representation represents itself (HO theories do not have a problem here). Kriegel in his book has offered an intriguing account of how it is possible.

    When I say that M is about C I only mean that C is part of the representational content of M. In my case I try to account for the above mentioned relations (in the SI case) by explaining that the state is about (represents) certain features of the apple as object and about myself as a subject and appeal to centered world semantics to unpack this claim.

    Additionally a representationalist theory requires a metasemantic theory that explains in virtue of what does the relation of representation holds between the content and the vehicle of representation. If the content of experience are centered features (see Egan 2006) as I claim then a metasemantic theory has to explain how are they represented and this is what I try to do in the last section of the paper.

    I did not say that “to offer the basics of a possible metasemantic[s] IN NATURALISTIC COMPATIBLE terms is more “reasonable””. A metasemantic theory is something that any representational theory requires (it has to be in naturalistic compatible terms if the theory has naturalistic ambitions). Distinguishing what are the bounds of the organism seems not to be a very demanding ability and it has clear evolutionary advantages. I took it as an starting point (also as many others) for reflection about the elements that could be involve in a metasematic theory of de se content.

  13. Hi Rocco,

    thanks a lot for your further comments and your excerpt, really interesting.

    You maintain there that CMS will exist only when its two parts exist and the proper relation holds between them. I miss (it is maybe somewhere else) a justification of why the FO and the HO state constitute a complex, otherwise the “whiff” of ad-hocness does not vanish.

    You conclude that either i) misrepresentation is not possible or ii) there is no CMS.

    One option for defending (i) while holding that the relation between the first-order state and the higher-order state is that of representation would be to maintain that the content of the higher-order ones include some kind of indexical element, something like ‘I am in THIS state’ (I have always have a tendency to think of WIV this way, but I was most probably mistaken after reading what you say in p. 20 of your book). There would be two worries with this proposal: the problem of the empty thought remains and an explanation of what grounds the demonstration is this case is required.

    In the case of ii) I see no way of making it compatible with the idea that the relation between the HO and the FO state is that of representation. What justifies that only when normal conditions obtain we have a CMS?

    ________________________

    I have the impression that the distinction between USA and CSA is only useful to taxonomize theories of conscioussness that only consider representations ‘as object’ (there might still be something that I am missing)
    If my claim that all our experiences share a phenomenology of ‘mineness’ commit me to CSA I am happy with that (maybe I shouldn’t). I have tried to account for this phenomenology by appealing to a representation of myself ‘as a subject’ and tried to offer a naturalistic account of this relation. Where would be the problem that you seem to see in the proposal?

    __________________

    I have not been able to find, in a first very quick superficial reading of chapters 2, 7 and 8, and account of the reference fixing mechanisms for the I-concepts (I have found the discussion on whether babies and animals might have such a concept really interesting). Even if conceptualism is true, one should (I think) pay attention to the fact that this concept seems to be especial. What do you think for example of Shoemaker’s considerations and the immunity to error through missidentification relative to the fist-person pronoum?

    In chapter 7 you distinguish several kinds of I-concepts (also in your comments). The one that seems to be required is level 2 (I qua experiencer of mental states) and if a HOT theory is to be true then something like ‘I qua thinker of this thought’ (level 3 might be too demanding) where’ this thought’ refers to the thought that yields current state conscious.

    Here is where I see one of the problem: taking into account the considerations that you make in chapter 2, where you seem to favor a theory according to which mental content “is identified with those things that actually caused the first tokenings of a concept”, it seems to me that having a concept of ‘I qua experiencier of mental states’ requires that one experiences mental states but this in turn requires to have a concept of I qua experiencer.

    Maybe the above mentioned concept is not required but something like ‘I qua thinker of this thought’ but it is obscure how do we come to have such a concept in the first place (I only know Rosenthal’s account, which is interesting but, I think, very controversial)

  14. Here are some of the structures that might implement the proposed model and their relation to consciousness as promised in my reply to Robert.

    Damasio presents some of the brain structures that may implement the proto-self. According to Damasio, these structures are necessary for having a phenomenally conscious experience. The proto-self includes (Damasio 2000, p. 104]).

    • Several brain-stem nuclei: regulate and map body signals. Damasio mention that Panksepp also link self and body by mean of innate representations of the body in brain stem.Further independent empirical evidence in favor of the connection between the cortex and the brain-stem has been presented by Churchland, Laurey and Llinas.

    • The hypothalamus: maintains a current register of the internal milieu (level of circulating nutrients, concentration of hormones, PH, etc.).

    • The insular cortex, the cortices known as S2 and the medial parietal cortices: integrate the representation of the current state of the organism at the level of cerebral hemisphere and the invariant design of the musculoskeletal frame.

    With regard to the ‘Interrelation Structures’, Damasio provides some support for his claim that the cingulate cortex, medial parietal cortex, the superior colliculi and the thalamus structures are required:

    The cingulate cortex comprises a combination of sensory and motor roles and it is involved in a large variety of complex movements including those of the viscera. Lesion and fMRI studies relate this area with emotion, attention and autonomic control. The evidence presented by Damasio is based on the reduction of the activity in this area on slow-wave sleep (compared to a significant increment during REM), hypnosis and some forms of anesthesia. Bilateral anterior lesion of the cingulate causes a condition known as akinetic mutism, that is described by Damasio as “suspended animation, internally as well as externally”[Damasio 2000, p. 176]. In his most recent work Damasio [Damasio 2010] includes the cingulate cortex as part of the proto-self. However, akinetic mutism is usually characterized as a variant of minimally conscious states. The relation between the anterior cingulate cortex and consciousness is nevertheless a controversial one:

    The interpretation is complicated by the fact that, in the rare instance in which such patients recover, there is usually amnesia for the akinetic episode, as in the original case of Cairns, though one patient who eventually recovered reported that she remembered the questions posed by the doctor but did not see a reason to respond (Laurey 2008, p. 395])

    Patients with bilateral medial parietal damage, in spite of being awake, “…do not look at anything with any semblance of attention, and their eyes may stare vacantly or oriented toward objects with no discernible motive.” (Damasio 2000, p. 178]) This lesion is also found in patients with Alzheimer disease.

    The superior colliculi receives a multiplicity of sensory inputs from several modalities and communicates the results to a variety of brain stem nuclei, the thalamus and the cortex. Damasio recognizes there is no evidence in humans that the superior colliculi supports consciousness in the absence of thalamic and cingulate structures, even assuming that the brain-stem structures remain intact.

    According to Damasio, the idea that the thalamus is related to consciousness is mainly based “on credible experiments in animals and on the likelihood that abnormal discharges in absence seizures, during which consciousness is disrupted, originate in the thalamus” (ibid. p.178)

    You can see a figure that illustrates some of the involved areas according to the colors in the figure presented in the paper in http://mindingthebrain.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/neuro.jpg
    (Brain’s pictures copyrighted by the University of Washington)

  15. Hello Miguel — You say “I see no way of making [the WIV/my view] compatible with the idea that the relation between the HO and the FO state is that of representation. What justifies that only when normal conditions obtain we have a CMS?”

    The short answer is that a “MET” is still a “thought about a mental state M,” even though MET and M are both integrated parts of an overall complex conscious state. This is, I argue, compatible with a causal account of content given e.g. causal interaction between areas of the brain as in e.g. feedback loops, etc… I do also argue that one state can have multiple attitudes and contents (here I agree with Kriegel ).

    I also argue that it makes much more sense to treat the HOT (or MET) as part of a complex state, in part, because consciousness at least seems to be an intrinsic property of conscious states (Gennaro 2012, pp. 54-59). Also because it can better handle the “problem of the rock.” As with all of these issues, I maintain that the overall advantages/explanatory power of the WIV (and HOT theory) exceed those of other theories, such as first-order theories.

    Anyway, here’s another excerpt from my book pp. 99-100. (Among other things, I’ll post something on empty/targetless HOTs later which will also be very relevant to the Prettyman/Brown session.)

    “I suspect that the underlying concern at the heart of Levine’s and Weisberg’s objections has more to do with the following questions: If first- order misrepresentation is really impossible in the WIV, then why even call the relationship between MET and M a representational one? What kind of representation (and thus representational theory) does not really allow for misrepresentation? The main reason to treat the MET as a representation of M is that it is still an unconscious metapsychological thought about M. Now, at the neural level, the MET is still directed at M even though there is important interaction between them, which warrants treating the complex state as a single state with two contents. As is well known, the brain has layers of representation going from “lower” to “higher” areas. We can think of this in terms of a hierarchy where the higher areas represent the lower areas. But in the case of conscious states, the relation between the MET and M is what Feinberg (2000) would call a nested one; that is, there is dynamic interaction in both directions due to feedback loops and concept application. This contrasts with, for example, the central nervous system in general, where we have a nonnested hierarchy, that is, a purely bottom-up sequence of representations. Feinberg (2000, 2001, 2009) has argued for what he calls the “nested hierarchy theory of consciousness” (NHTC). According to Feinberg, in a nonnested hierarchy, lower and higher levels are independent entities in which the top of the hierarchy is not physically composed of the bottom. A nonnested hierarchy has a pyramidal structure with a clear-cut top and bottom with the higher- levels controlling the lower levels, analogous to a military command structure. In a nested hierarchy, however, lower levels of the hierarchy are nested within higher levels to create increasingly complex wholes. This idea is also applicable to many other structures in living organisms, such as individual cells. Unlike an account of neural hierarchy that views the brain as a nonnested hierarchy, the NHTC (like the WIV) would treat some areas of the brain as a nested hierarchy when conscious states occur. The idea is that lower-order features combine in consciousness as part of (or nested within) higher-order features. So consciousness is not narrowly localizable, but it is also not very strongly global. And conscious states are thus neurally realized as combinations of lower-and higher-order brain features. Thus we can view a conscious mental state as a complex of two parts that are integrated in a certain way. Like the NHTC, essential reciprocity exists between specific neural structures on the WIV. The structures in question are not merely laid upon one another without neural functioning going in both directions. Thus my view is not merely what has been called a hierarchical theory whereby the farther up one goes in, say, one’s visual system, the more consciously aware of a stimulus one becomes (Pollen 1999; Lamme and Roelfsema 2000). It is much more of an interactive theory such that “once a stimulus is presented, feedforward signals travel up the visual hierarchy. . . . But this feedforward activity is not enough for consciousness. . . . High level areas must send feedback signals back to lower- level areas . . . so that neural activity returns in full circle” (Baars and Gage 2010, 173). And perhaps the most crucial point is that part of the reason for this may simply be that “higher areas need to check the signals in early areas and confirm if they are getting the right message” (173). If there is no such confirmation, including perhaps a hypothetical case of misrepresentation between M and MET, then no conscious state occurs. I will elaborate further on these themes in chapters 6 and 9.”

  16. Miguel — You also said: “I have the impression that the distinction between USA and CSA is only useful to taxonomize theories of conscioussness that only consider representations ‘as object’ (there might still be something that I am missing)
    If my claim that all our experiences share a phenomenology of ‘mineness’ commit me to CSA I am happy with that (maybe I shouldn’t). I have tried to account for this phenomenology by appealing to a representation of myself ‘as a subject’ and tried to offer a naturalistic account of this relation. Where would be the problem that you seem to see in the proposal?”

    I think the problem is that if you are committed to CSA (“as a subject” or “as an object”, then that would seem to be at odds with your desire to put forth a reductionist theory, not to mention potential problems of circularity and regress. Perhaps there is a difference between “reductionist” and “naturalistic” in, say, the way that Kriegel has in mind. But the fact remains that with CSA, there looks be no way to explain conscious states in terms of unconscious awareness, thoughts, or whatever. My critique of Kriegel’s view is mainly in Ch. 5 of my book. More some other time! Rocco

  17. Miguel — Made an error on my previous post — sorry.

    You said in response to Ken “I do not know any reductive account that have tried to elaborate on Sartre’s ideas and I am not sure about how to make use of them.”

    I did give it a shot in “Jean-Paul Sartre and the HOT Theory of Consciousness,” Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 32, pp. 293-330 (Sept. 2002).

    Although I still like the paper, it was obviously written before the flurry of research from e.g. Kriegel and others.

  18. Thank you very much for the reference to your Sartre paper, it is really interesting (a few related things in my next post).

    However, in my reply to Ken I claimed that I did not know any reductive theory that construct the alleged phenomenology of mineness starting from the reflexive structure of consciousness. This is not something that you attempt to do in your paper, am I right? In your paper this phenomenology would arise from the self-referential element (in SI terms) of the higher-order thought. The I-concept in your theory seems to be prior to the experience.

  19. Thanks a lot for your interesting comments.
    Given that the paper does not focus on a critique to HO theories but merely in offering an alternative to them, let me focus on the discussion about CSA and USA and follow the discussion on the mismatch problem in Adrienne’s thread. I hope you do not find this impolite.

    In your reply you redirected me to your chapter 5. I have read and I wasn’t able to find any objection against my proposal (I know it is not at all the aim of this interesting chapter directed to reject Kriegel’s theory). I might have read it too quick, for this reason let me summarize in a simplistic way what I have understood and explain why I think that my position is not targeted.

    In all the sections it is assumed, roughly, that a mental state M becomes conscious in virtue of the presence of a mental state M*, which represents M. The chapter is aimed at rejecting theories that make M=M*. My theory does not make this assumption and therefore, I think, it would hardly be targeted by the arguments presented there.
    In any case I think that by following some of your arguments in this chapter I can clarify some issues of the presented model that, it seems to me in the light of the discussion, I might have failed to make clear enough in the paper.

    Your arguments are presented in 3 different sections. The second and the third one argue against the possibility of understanding self-awareness (in MSI terms according to my taxonomy –I think that all the uses of ‘self-awareness’, at least in this section, are to be understood in these terms) as a form of peripheral awareness. Given that I do not think that subjective character should be unpacked as representation of the state itself, I think that my argument is not targeted by these arguments.

    Let me therefore focus on the first one. There you argue against PSR. According to PSR, M=M*.

    We are interested in the question of what makes a mental state M a conscious mental state at all. The problems for PSR is that if M* were conscious then the explanation would be circular and if it were unconscious then, by the identity between M and M*, M would be unconscious.

    So far so good, but as you note, Kriegel is not really endorsing PSR as you present it (nor do I in any form)

    The second argument maintains that conscious attention cannot be focused outwards and inwards at the same time. In p. 109 you claim that PSR “seems committed to the absurdity that M is both directed at the world and at itself at the same time”

    There are two interesting issues at this point:

    In the first place, not very relevant for our discussion, I do not think that it is not completely obvious why this is an “absurdity”. Maybe this commitment (which I agree the theory would have) can be translated, in representational terms, into the claim that a single vehicle of representation had two contents. Many naturalistic theories might not allow for that. However, it would be possible to make sense of this claim in a consumers (meta)semantics (as in Millikan or Carruthers) if the state were available to two different consumer systems.

    In the second place, as you observe, one might distinguish two senses in which M* is directed toward the world and towards itself. In Kriegel’s theory M* directly represent the world and indirectly represent M* in virtue of representing one of its proper parts (I am not evaluating here the merits of Kriegel’s theory). This indirect content might be a form of peripheral awareness and you argue in detail against this alternative in section 5.3.

    In my theory there is a unique content, a centered property. This explains, or so I have argued, the sense in which the mental state is “directed to the world” and directed to oneself (there is no need for the state to be directed to itself). I see nothing problematic in what you argue in the chapter.

    Finally some remark on the phenomenological argument.

    In page 112 you quote Kriegel: “…in your auditory experience of the bagpipe you are aware primarily, or explicitly , of the bagpipe sound; but you are also implicitly aware that this auditory experience of the bagpipe is your experience”. You seem to resist this phenomenological observation (which I take to be the same one as in the Gallagher and Zahavi quote in a previous post or in Ken’s comment that “we all spontaneously experience our conscious mental episodes as being our own”) and maintain that it derives from reflection, but I might have misunderstood you:

    If you only mean by this that there is no self-referential element (understood as in MSI) “given” in the experience, then I agree with you. As you note in page 110 “It does not seem to me that I am consciously aware (in any sense) of my own experience when I am, say, consciously attending to a movie…” . This is the reason I fail to see what motivate a MSI account in the first place. If by that you mean that the experience is not “given” as yours then I disagree.

    A question on your thoughts about this issue in your paper about Sartre. In page 41 you say:

    “There is, however, a nonconscious or implicit I even on the unreflected level. Sartre says as much later in TE: “It is certain..that the I does appear on the unreflected level.” (TE 89) When I am preoccupied with outer reality (e.g. in trying to hang a picture or in running after a streetcar) I am still implicitly aware of myself (“I”) as being in a conscious mental state. In BN Sartre explains that the “unreflective consciousness is a consciousness of the world. Therefore for the unreflective consciousness the self exists on the level of objects in the world…Only the reflective consciousness has the self directly for an object.” (BN 349, second emphasis added) So a first-order consciousness is directed at the world and a reflective consciousness is directed at oneself, but, even on the unreflective level, one still has indirect or implicit thoughts about oneself.” Gennaro 2002, p. 41

    Your use and Kriegel’s use of ‘implicit’ confuses me, you take it as equivalent of nonconscious whereas Kriegel claim that this pre-reflective self-consciousness is implicit but conscious.
    In any case, if you accept that this element is pre-reflective and you claim that it is nonconscious how do we get to know of it in the first place?

    I think that this pre-reflective element is phenomenologically manifest (unreflected) as Kriegel suggests (we disagree on how to unpack it). In this case the SI element is a conscious one (as subject) and that’s why I think I cannot endorse a purely USA account. I still do not see a big problem in doing so, but I might have missed some important points.
    For what matters, I agree that only at the reflective level appears the self as an object.

  20. Thank you Miguel for an interesting paper.

    A couple of points:
    1. You use a distinction between representing an individual as a subject and as an object. The distinction strikes me as interesting, and I would like you to clarify the following (perhaps my question stems from my unfamiliarity with the literature on this distinction). You seem to identify a state’s representing an individual as a subject with a state’s having de se content, and de se content, on your view, is content that attributes to an object a centered property. The idea of a centered property incoporates two different components. First, it resembles a relational property. For example, the centered property BEING IN FRONT OF ME resembles the relational property BEING IN FRONT OF A.W. Second, it involves an indexical element. My question is: which of these two components is the crucial one? That is, which of them is responsible for representing an individual as a subject, rather than as an object? Perhaps both? I am a bit puzzled here because it seems that (a) a content can attribute a relational property to an object without this object, or any other, being represented ‘as a subject’; (b) a content can be indexical, as in ‘this tree is green’, without this tree, or any other object, being represented ‘as a subject’. So where does the ‘representing something as subject’ comes from?

    2. You appeal to the idea of a proto-self in order to naturalistically account for the having of de se content. You seem to suggest that the content of proto-qualitative (PQ) states is not de se. You write, for example, that “PQ represents S” (p. 13), and that the interaction of PQ states with the proto-self gives rise to de se content. Now, it seems to me that, contrary to your claim, PQ content is ALREADY de se, at least to some extent (perhaps it is not ‘full-fledges’ de se content, but it comes pretty close), for the following reason. Consider a PQ state whose function is to indicate apples. Such a state does not merely correlate with apples. Rather, it correlates with apples that are, e.g., in front of the subject. Its function is to indicate apples that are located in front of the subject (only the indication of such apples has adaptive value). Thus, the content of this PQ state is not ‘there are apples’ but rather ‘there are apples in front of me’, which seems to me to be a form (perhaps a primitive form?) of de se content.

    Thanks!

  21. Miguel — I didn’t expect you actually to READ my Sartre/HOT theory paper! But, yes,I wasn’t really trying to show that Sartre himself thought that pre-reflective self-consciousness is unconscious, though perhaps he SHOULD have and I do discuss some textual evidence that Sartre did in fact allow for unconscious mental states. Another aim of mine in that paper was to show how HOT theory can shed some light on Sartre’s theory and vice versa. Again, though, some of the more subtle differences among all these theories have become clearer to me more recently and my Sartre paper preceded Kriegel’s work. Again, I just had in mind your claim that “I do not know any reductive account that have tried to elaborate on Sartre’s ideas and I am not sure about how to make use of them.” So I thought that my paper met that, perhaps more modest, goal.

    Yes, you are right that I do treat “implicit” as “unconscious” but my purposes, in that paper at least, was not necessarily to argue that Sartre himself held this view. Kriegel and others would most certainly think of “implicit” as some form of “peripheral” self-awareness which is itself conscious. So I think we’re back to the disagreement about whether such self-awareness is unconscious (USA) or conscious (CSA). I’ll post separately on other points.

  22. Migel: “…one might distinguish two senses in which M* is directed toward the world and towards itself. In Kriegel’s theory M* directly represent the world and indirectly represent M* in virtue of representing one of its proper parts (I am not evaluating here the merits of Kriegel’s theory). This indirect content might be a form of peripheral awareness and you argue in detail against this alternative in section 5.3. In my theory there is a unique content, a centered property. This explains, or so I have argued, the sense in which the mental state is “directed to the world” and directed to oneself (there is no need for the state to be directed to itself). I see nothing problematic in what you argue in the chapter.”

    Response: But I think some of my arguments against Kriegel’s current considered position (which involves is a form of “CSA”) do still apply to what I currently understand to be your view. (Recall that he does have that “for me” element which I urged is also a SI position in my initial comments.) I do agree that one state can have two contents, but the issue here is whether one state can have two conscious “parts,” one directed outer and the other directed inner and back at the mental state. It is this that I find rather absurd. Now, the reason I say “directed back at the mental state” is because that’s what Kriegel’s self-representational model says. To be sure, this is more like your “MSI” but, first, it still seems to me that Kriegel has in mind your “SI” at least to some extent, and, second, if your “CSA” is directed back at “oneself” is some other way, then how exactly? At one’s own body? Consciously? Always? The conclusion I’ve reached is that it is really best in the end to hold that there isn’t really any continuing CSA but always USA instead. Thus the structure of the WIV is much closer to HOT theory. This is why, in my initial comments, I asked for clarity on the CSA-USA question regarding your own view. On the one hand, you do seem rather sympathetic to CSA in some form, perhaps akin to Kriegel. On the other hand, when you spell out the “self-awareness” in terms of e.g. Damasio’s views (also in your reply to Robert Lurz), it becomes less clear to me that you really do have CSA in mind. Surely e.g. the brain regulating various bodily states of an organism (“regulate and map body signals. Damasio mention that Panksepp also link self and body by mean of innate representations of the body in brain stem”) is not conscious.

    On Kriegel’s “bagpipe” example, one of my main points was that it is really a case of “reflection” because one is, after the fact, consciously thinking about a memory. Thus, it cannot really be used as evidence for CSA at the time of the initial experience. But, yes, as you know, I do also deny that there is good phenomenological evidence for CSA of any kind, though there may certainly be frequent switching back and forth between outer-directed consciousness and something more like “introspection.”

  23. Miguel: You also said “In any case, if you accept that this [self-awareness] element is pre-reflective and you claim that it is nonconscious how do we get to know of it in the first place?”

    I address this, in part, in section 2.4 in my book (see below for a fairly short excerpt), arguing that it is best to construe the Transitivity Principle as conceptually true, which doesn’t mean that it can’t also be supported by or falsified by empirical means. I also argue that the overall explanatory power of HOT theory (or my WIV) favors the presence of unconscious HOTs (with their constituent concepts).
    ——————
    2.4 HOT Theory: An Initial Defense
    In this section, I offer a preliminary defense of HOT theory. I ask the reader for some patience as a more thorough defense and additional details of my own theory will become clearer throughout the book.
    2.4.1 The Transitivity Principle
    It is natural to start with the highly intuitive claim that has come to be known as the Transitivity Principle (TP). One motivation for HOT theory is the desire to use this principle to explain what differentiates conscious and unconscious mental states:
    (TP) A conscious state is a state whose subject is, in some way, aware of being in it.
    Thus, when one has a conscious state, one is aware of being in that state. For example, if I am having a conscious desire or pain, I am aware of having that desire or pain. HOT theory says that the HOT is of the form “I am in M now,” where M references a mental state. Conversely, the idea that I could be having a conscious state while totally unaware of being in that state seems very odd (if not an outright contradiction). A mental state of which the subject is completely unaware is clearly an unconscious state. For example, I would not be aware of having a subliminal perception, and thus it is an unconscious perception. I view the TP primarily as an a priori or conceptual truth about the nature of conscious states. It is interesting to note that many non-HOT theorists agree with the TP, especially those who endorse some form of self-representationalism according to which conscious mental states are also directed back at themselves in some sense.
    One can also find a similar claim in Lycan’s (2001a) [his Analysis piece] argument where premise (1) just is the TP. Moreover, he treats it as a “definition,” which suggests that it is a conceptual truth.
    [I reproduce the entire argument in the book, but premise (1) is “A conscious state is a mental state whose subject is aware of being in it.”]……….
    One might object that many HO theorists hold that the TP is an empirical (as opposed to an a priori) claim. Indeed, Rosenthal himself says, “The theory doesn’t appeal to, nor is it intended to reflect, any conceptual or metaphysically necessary truths” (2005, 9). But he also refers to the TP as a “truism” (8), which seems to suggest that it is a conceptual, or at least “folk psychological,” truth of some kind. Rosenthal also often asserts the “intuitively obvious” truth of TP and seems to use a priori reasoning in various places. Bill Lycan has also told me, in e-mail correspondence, that he wonders if HO theories are “nearly trivially true.” In any case, if I differ from other HO theorists on the extent to which HO theory is a conceptual truth or is known a priori, then so be it.
    There is also an importantly related issue here. If “an empirical claim” means “in principle empirically falsifiable” or “consistent with and sometimes supported by empirical and scientific evidence,” then I certainly agree that HO theory is empirical. A conceptual or necessary truth might also be empirical in the sense that it can sometimes also be supported or falsified by empirical evidence. We might claim to know that some proposition is true a priori but then come across empirical findings that falsify it. Indeed, this happens often in philosophy of mind when facts about abnormal psychological phenomena call into question what seem to be obvious conceptual truths, such as when the existence of Anton’s syndrome (blindness denial) forces us to doubt the view that we cannot be mistaken about our ability to see…..In such cases, we typically later conclude that these propositions were not really known in the first place. ……..
    Another related and compelling rationale for HOT theory and the TP is as follows (based on Rosenthal 2004, 24): A non-HOT theorist might still agree with HOT theory as an account of introspection or reflection, namely, that it involves a conscious thought about a mental state. This seems to be a fairly common sense definition of introspection that includes the notion that introspection involves conceptual activity. It also seems reasonable for anyone to hold that when a mental state is unconscious, there is no HOT at all. But then it stands to reason that there should be something “in between” those two cases, that is, when one has a first-order conscious state. So what is in between no HOT at all and a conscious HOT? The answer, of course, is an unconscious HOT, which is precisely what HOT theory says. Moreover, this explains what happens when there is a transition from a first-order conscious state to an introspective state: an unconscious HOT becomes conscious.

  24. Hi Assef thank you very much for your questions.

    Let me try to answer them:

    Egans’s example in his 2006 paper might be useful to provide an intuitive grasp of the difference between centered features (equivalent to self-ascribed properties) and properties, leaving formal complications aside for the moment. Consider the property of being near MS. My computer has the property of being near MS. You computer lacks such a property. The way the world is suffices for determining an extension. Compare with a centered feature as being nearby. The way the world is does not suffice for determining such an extension we need a ‘location’ within the world in order to determine such an extension. If we think of centered features as functions from ordered pairs . My computer belong to the extension of the pair (@, MS), your computer belong to the extension of the pair (@, AW), your computer and mine would share the centered feature being nearby. An indexical analysis would not allow them to share such a feature, a plausible desiderata if we consider the case of phenomenal properties.

    As I mention in the paper, I understand contents as ways of partitioning the space of possibilities (between worlds that are compatible with this content and worlds that are not). As you note this partitioning might be incorrect. A contentful state might “say” that there is an apple in front of me whereas there is none. In this case the actual world is not compatible with its content and is therefore incorrect.
    When the content is a centered feature it does not only select a set of possible worlds but also a “location” within this worlds. In the presented framework I may misascribe (misrepresent) a centered feature to the apple (there might even, as you suggest be none); i.e. I may misascribe to myself a property. However it is a self-attribution (for the system itself) and such self-attribution do not make room for misrepresentation (in this sense). I can attribute to myself a pain when there is none but I cannot fail to know that it is me the one that have the experience (I do not need to know that I am MS not that I have a body), in this sense oneself is represented ‘as a subject’.

    In your second point you wonder whether the content of the PQ is already not already de se. The reason is that the content of perception is always egocentric. There is an interesting discussion on whether this is so originated by John’s paper “Vision, Self-Location, and the Phenomenology of the ’Point of View’” in this conference.

    In your example it might be true that any representation requires a point of view, but it is a non-interesting notion of point of view. The content of PQ content would be perfectly characterized in indexical terms (there is no need to appeal to centered features. Please have a look to footnote 19 in the paper and let me know whether it helps).

    Imagine a simple sensor that detects red light in a system. Imagine that its function is to indicate red object: the sensor represents red object. You point out that the function would not be that but to indicate red object in certain location with respect to the sensor’s position; so, this content might be also about the position of the sensor. In the case of the content of experience this is not enough, or so I argue (the so called essential indexical is required)

  25. Thanks Rocco for the discussion. It’s being a lot of fun and very helpful for me.

    Let me reply to some of the points you make:

    “But I think some of my arguments against Kriegel’s current considered position (which involves is a form of “CSA”) do still apply to what I currently understand to be your view.”
    (Recall that he does have that “for me” element which I urged is also a SI position in my initial comments.)”

    My SI component is not present in Kriegel’s elaboration. According to Kriegel, the ‘for-me’ element is constitutive of phenomenal consciousness (we agree) but this element is to be unpacked as in MSI (we disagree). The ME component as in SI is only present in human adults (and is therefore not constitutive of phenomenal consciousness), as he notes (and I quote in the paper) in his book (p.177) (Kriegel has confirmed this in e-mail correspondence). The main motivation for that, as I mention in the paper, is that this concession might ensure that more creatures are conscious than otherwise. My theory does not have to do this concession to ensure that infants or animals are conscious.

    “If your “CSA” is directed back at “oneself” is some other way, then how exactly?”
    It is not the case, in my account, that experiential awareness is another representation directed “back” at oneself (nor directed back to the mental state itself as in Kriegel). In having an experience there a unique representation which involves not only how the world is but also myself. This two elements are represented in a different way, one as a subject (or as the experiencer as such –as in Perry, Lewis, Castañeda, etc –if you prefer it) and one as an object. There is a unique content, a unique representation.
    I try to make sense of this claim in a centered world semantics and to “how exactly” in section 4. Maybe this is not satisfactory but I still think it is.

    “Consciously?“

    I am not sure how to interpret this question (for I think it doesn’t make sense in my proposal). If by that you ask whether for-meness is phenomenologically manifest, then the reply is yes.
    There is only one thing which is conscious, a conscious state. It is conscious in virtue of its content, no extra awareness is required to make sense of something like TP, and it is not conscious in virtue of an extra level of representation (or awareness), conscious or not, as in HOT.

    “Always?”

    It intends to account for experiential awareness, which I think and you disagree, is phenomenologically manifest but, we both agree, is constitutive of conscious states.

    “On the one hand, you do seem rather sympathetic to CSA in some form, perhaps akin to Kriegel. On the other hand, when you spell out the “self-awareness” in terms of e.g. Damasio’s views (also in your reply to Robert Lurz), it becomes less clear to me that you really do have CSA in mind. Surely e.g. the brain regulating various bodily states of an organism (“regulate and map body signals. Damasio mention that Panksepp also link self and body by mean of innate representations of the body in brain stem”) is not conscious.”

    This is where there is some misunderstanding between us (I might not haven’t been clear enough) because I, of course, agree that the proto-self is not conscious (the content of the proto-self is not conscious). But it is a constitutive part, or so I claim, of the neural correlate of a phenomenally conscious state. A state which is constituted by the PQ and the proto-self. This complex is the vehicle of an appropriate de se content and is therefore a phenomenally conscious state.

  26. We disagree on whether the alleged for-meness is phenomenologically manifest. I think that the phenomenology of ‘mineness’ is ‘given’ in my experience, as Kriegel, Ken or Zahavi seem to agree and you hold that it appears only in reflection.
    This is relevant for your USA-CSA distinction. I have only used to vindicate (maybe unfairly as Ken points out) an SI position, on which you seem to agree.
    I am nonetheless interested in the question on whether for-meness is, or not, phenomenologically manifest because another opponent might object that the SI component comes from reflection.

    Phenomenological disputes are very difficult to settle, so let me try an alternative strategy (a rephrasing of a previous question)
    We both agree that something like TP is true. The question is: what is the justification for TP? Is it based on reflection?
    I do not think so. If it were then this experiential awareness might not be constitutive of phenomenology (against what we both think). If it is not then it is should be phenomenologically manifest.

  27. Miguel — On your last post (at 14:41), that sounds righto to me i.e. disagreement about what is phenomenologically manifest. Uriah and I had similar conversations along these lines and it does often come back to this point. But I don’t want us to forget about the possibility of giving a reductionist account of consciousness, which is, in my view, an important goal.

    See my other post (and books excerpt) for my jusification of TP, e.g. based on reason….etc… — Rocco

  28. Miguel: you said in your previous post “If by that you ask whether for-meness is phenomenologically manifest, then the reply is yes.”
    As in my previous post, yes, this seems to be the main difference and also why I introduced that USA-CSA difference as way to capture this disagreeement.

    Then you say “I, of course, agree that the proto-self is not conscious (the content of the proto-self is not conscious). But it is a constitutive part, or so I claim, of the neural correlate of a phenomenally conscious state. A state which is constituted by the PQ and the proto-self. This complex is the vehicle of an appropriate de se content and is therefore a phenomenally conscious state.”
    I think I can agree with this — as you know, on my WIV version of HOT theory the NCC of a conscious state is comprised of both the lower-level mental state at the HOT (or “MET”). I noted this potential area of agreement in my initial commentary. On my view, the HOT (or MET) is an unconscious part of a complex conscious state. Now, what you say about the proto-self SOUNDS compatible with the WIV to this extent. However, you do seem to think that SOMETHING is phenomenologically manifest that I do not. What exactly that something is, is not entirely clear to me. There may also be other differences between us about e.g. the concepts involved in the “self-awareness” in question.

  29. Thanks Rocco,
    I agree with your summary about our agreements and disagreements. I think that the one about how to construct ‘self-awareness’ (about the concepts involved as you put it) in the SI sense is an important one (a disagreement mentioned in the discussion here but not developed in the paper). Let me also stress that, as you are, I am interested in the possibility of giving a reductionist account of consciousness. The paper is an attempt in this last direction.

  30. Sounds right, Miguel — And one reason that I do treat the self-awareness as thoughts is that I do think they are conceptual. I then argue that treating them as conceptual has other advantages, e.g. shed light on issues surrounding conceptualism, account for the way that concepts affect one’s very conscious experiences, etc. I’ve also tried to make sense of HOTs/concepts in a somewhat Kantian way, i.e. as “presupposed in” and “part of” a conscious experience but not themselves normally consciously experienced. You do say that: “Let me also stress that, as you are, I am interested in the possibility of giving a reductionist account of consciousness.” My only point here is that, like Kriegel, your view might be better construed as a “naturalistic” theory (in some sense — e.g. giving a neuroscientific analysis…) but not really “reductionist” in the way that, say, HOT theory is. Or at least that’s how Uriah and Ken seem to think of their view. — Rocco

  31. I think that the content of experience is non-conceptual, meaning by that that one does not need to posses the concept required to express such a content in ordinary language, although I agree with you that it might be easier for conceptualism to explain how our concepts affect our own experience. The problem for conceptualism is to spell out the reference fixing mechanisms of the concept ‘I’ without appealing to the experience (if the already mentioned conditions have to be satisfied –or to argue that they don’t have to).

    I do not understand why you said that it is not reductionist, could you please elaborate? It attempts to explains consciousness in terms of representation and representation in teleofunctional terms.

  32. Miguel: “I do not understand why you said that it is not reductionist, could you please elaborate? It attempts to explains consciousness in terms of representation and representation in teleofunctional terms”

    Well, the way I think of it is that HOT theories attempts to reduce state consciousness in “mentalistic” terms, e.g. via notions like awareness, thought, as a relation between two UNconscious states, etc… (A second step reduction would involve reference to neural structures or processes, as David R. has said over the years and I agree). Now, it is this sort of mentalistic “reduction” that isn’t possible on any view where the HO state is itself conscious in some sense, e.g. as in Krigel’s view as he also acknowledges (not to mention potential problems of regress or circularity). However, someone like Kriegel is still interested in giving a “naturalist” account of his self-representationalism; thus, he makes a distinction between “reductionist” and “naturalistic” in order to make it clear that e.g. he is not necessarily advocating some form of metaphysical dualism. And many who are sympathetic to Kriegel’s Brentano-like view do seem to be explicitly anti-reductionistic (Brentano himself, D.W. Smith, perhaps Zahavi….) Or at least that’s the way I think of it — I’m not sure this distinction is THAT important, but it might be depending on the aims of the author in question. Perhaps most important is just to make clear what those goals are. This is one reason that I emphasized the question about whether or not your view involves CSA or USA. If the former, then the issue of reduction in mentalistic terms could be a problem [Something like this has also become an issue in the Prettyman/Brown session.]

  33. Reply to Miguel Sebastian’s Reply

    MS: I am interested in reductive theories of consciousness, more precisely in providing a characterization of the subjective character in representational terms.

    KW: Yes, understood. I was granting you that. But you know there are serious and difficult objections to that approach. In particular, any teleosemantic representationalist approach to consciousness—be it FO, HO, or SO—has to face up to version of the Swamp Man Problem. To me that problem has always seemed to be a reductio ad absurdum of any such approach. It matters little if you can recover, in some way, a centered-world semantics of de se content in teleosemantic terms if the resulting theory has as a consequence the claim that the existence of a conscious subject (or stream of consciousness if you prefer) depends in a constitutive (and not merely causal-explanatory) way on the natural history of my brain. It’s just a non-starter in my view. If you are going be a representationalist reductionist about consciousness, find another theory of representation. And good luck with that hunt. And the reply that teleosemantics is the best naturalistic theory around is hardly sufficient. If there is a completely compelling objection to a theory (or to the theory as putatively applied to a certain problem), then one has to reject the theory even if one does not have an alternative. And last time I checked, no one has adequately answered the Swamp Man Objection to teleosemantics vis-à-vis consciousness. Every attempt I’ve seen in this regard has struck me as sort of display of wishful philosophizing.

    MS: No concept of self is required to undergo a conscious experience. I have argued that a concept of self is required to provide an explanation of the subjective character in representational terms. The difference between MSI and SI theories, if subjective character is to be unpacked in representational terms is whether the correctness conditions of the experience concern the subject that is undergoing the experience or merely the experience itself.

    KW: So you are saying that the conceptual representation of a self or organism (by the relevant brain processes and structures) just is subjective character—which itself involves no concepts at the level of consciousness. When I talk about ‘unconscious’ representation below, I mean, in terms of your view, basically, that the conceptual content is not consciously represented. So we have an unconscious representation of something constituting a feature of consciousness. So suppose we accept the reductive representationalist strategy. How do we adjudicate what the representational content of the explanans ought to be? If someone told you that the subjectivity of consciousness is constituted by the unconscious representation of two dogs in heat, you would think they were crazy. But what makes an unconscious representation of one’s organism (and oneself qua organism) a better candidate than the two longing dogs? Well, I believe that it is ultimately an appeal to phenomenological considerations (since these drive the empirical hypotheses we draw from such theories; let’s put the much more general evolutionary considerations to the side here). So this means that part of (if not all of) the plausibility of such a putative representational base will rest on the plausibility of the phenomenological considerations driving one. So this means any full defense of your view ought to articulate the phenomenology behind it more rigorously. More of this below.

    MS: Williford notes that some philosophers like Sartre elaborate on the sense of an autobiographical self emerging on the basis of the primordial reflexivity of consciousness. I am not sure what is the relevance of an autobiographical self for the discussion.

    KW: The relevance is this: Talk of de se content and mineness is ambiguous; the exact phenomenological data you have in mind will need some clarification. Sometimes people intend a fairly articulated conception of the self when they talk that way; sometimes they have some sort of substantialist notion in mind—even if they are physicalists; and, in fact, many non-reductionists about organisms would think that they are, precisely, the paradigmatic material substances. But the point of the remark was that for Sartre (and me and Kriegel and arguably Damasio (in his notion of Core Self)) subjective character (which Sartre and I would identify with the reflexive or self-“representational” character of consciousness) is, ultimately, very minimal. It is bare “for-itselfness” or self-presence. And it can persist even if all the more elaborate notions of self disappear. It was not entirely clear to me that you did not have a more robust notion of self in mind (it’s clearer to me now that you do not intend that and that in a certain sense, on your view, no consciously accessible self-concept is required at all). Given that lack of clarity on my part, I was at pains to indicate that self-“representationalists” (like Sartre—though he’d be quite disgusted with that appellation) think that you can build up more elaborate conceptions of self on the basis of self-presence or Core Self (and some more cognitive and mnemonic machinery). I was thinking that you might have some more elaborate conceptions in mind; and I was wanting to stress that self-“representationalists” can account for those beginning with their minimalistic basis.

    MS: Rudolf Lingens arguably misses such an autobiographical self while he walks in Main Library at Stanford (Perry 1977) but undergo all kind of experiences as his (I do not think that if he had a headache, his experience would differ in a relevant sense from mine).

    KW: But of course! I think you misunderstood me here. Rudolf Lingens’s consciousness has subjective character (=self-presence on the self-“rep.” model). So on the self-“rep.” model, he has a sense of self. But he does not have the more elaborated autobiographical sense. I think we misunderstood each other. I took you to be saying the sense of self involved in consciousness was a more elaborated sense. You, here, seem to take me to be saying that it is a more elaborated sense. But we both agree, I now see, that no elaborated sense is required, just the minimal sense of mineness. That misunderstanding out of the way, we can see, once again, that part of the debate is just about the phenomenological character of that mineness. Self-rep. theorists want to say it is reflexive representation (or self-presence). You want to say that the representational explanans is a representation of the organism. So it remains for you to characterize the phenomenology of mineness is a more rigorous and convincing way. If you don’t do that, one will wonder how you got to your representational explanans—especially given that you think it is conceptual at the brain level but non-conceptual at the level of consciousness. One will wonder Why that? Why not the two dogs in heat? Why isn’t one object or individual represented, just as good as any other?

    MS: The most well developed FO-MSI theory, to the best of my knowledge, is Kriegel’s. However, in his theory we end up with an understanding of how a state represents itself and this seems to be insufficient to provide a reductive account of the phenomenology of mineness.

    KW: This is where the action is. As I tried to tell you, if you think of it as trying to get mineness out of a single, isolated, discrete thing representing itself, then, right, it won’t be much of an account. But that’s a viciously abstract way to think of it. More of this below.

    MS: Sartre tried to show how a postulated structure of consciousness may give rise such a phenomenology of mineness (I am not sure about what justifies the alleged reflexive structure of consciousness beyond this mineness element and the fear that a self-involving theory would commit us to some unacceptable notion of ego –of course postulating such an structure might be explanatorily useful as in Sartre).

    KW: Here we go. Self-presence (reflexive structure, for-itselfness, ipseity, non-positional self-consciousness etc.) is not postulated, for God’s sake! It is a datum! Consciousness is present to itself. That is what elementary mineness, at the phenomenological level, just is. There is an extensive literature on this claim. I am not going to repeat the arguments and the phenomenological descriptions that elucidate this phenomenon—you can find plenty of that in Zahavi and many many others. But your claim here strikes me as an indication, once again, that you are not actually taking self-“representationalism” (or, in this case, the phenomenology behind it) seriously enough. It ought to give one pause that just about every philosopher in the Phenomenological tradition (not to mention scores of them outside of it) accepted the idea that consciousness is self-manifesting. It is just frustrating that you, in effect, dismiss the whole idea with a couple of lines. For your own approach to be plausible, you need to elaborate on the phenomenology of mineness. To do that you’d probably be well advised to look at people who have already done so. And if you do that, you’ll find that just about all of them accept that consciousness is self-manifesting.

    MS: One might try to elaborate on the idea that the correctness condition of experience concern the stream of consciousness of which the conscious state is a part of. I still fail to see how this kind of relations between states (broadly understood) might give rise to any kind of self-ascription as in the phenomenology of mineness. In any case, a theory of how a state represents itself is insufficient for this purpose. One would need to elaborate on the relation that holds between the states in the stream and the stream itself. …Many previous and posterior experiences seem not to be essential to the phenomenal character of say my pain experience.

    KW: Look, one point here is not to have a naïve and simplistic account of the stream of consciousness or of episodes of consciousness. This takes us into the rather murky area of time-consciousness, which I’d like to avoid. But in any case, consciousness is shot through with temporality. It is not accurate to think of it—at least not from the phenomenological point of view—as like beads on a string—a sequence of static little representational blobs tied together by a causal string. We abstract rather viciously when we speak of states or even episodes, though I like the latter better—phase might be even better. The point is that what we call a conscious episode is internally connected to the episode just now ebbing away, which was likewise connected to its predecessor, and so on. (This is all described quite nicely by Husserl and other Phenomenologists and nicely problematized by Barry Dainton and others who cannot be accused of unclarity or excessive difficulty). Of course, the more remote a predecessor the less its representation in the present episode; so your last point there is of course correct. But the deal is that the temporal structure of consciousness gives it a sense of duration or span. And the constant recurrence of reflexive structure when coupled with this temporality gives the sense of a single enduring point of view or subject-to-whom the world appears. Of course one would need to elaborate on this more. But my intention in the present context was to argue that once one sees that we are not just talking about beads on a string, the prima facie force of the criticism that self-rep. theories are not phenomenologically adequate to account for mineness because they just posit static blobs shining lights on themselves is nullified.

    MS: Finally, I do not see what supports the claim that the mineness component is missing in “very young children, in a lot of animals, in late stage Alzheimer’s patients, in people having really intense Salvia Divinorum or Datura trips, etc.”

    KW: You misunderstand me but understandably so. It all depends on what you mean by mineness. If you mean subjective character (which I identify with self-presence) then I do not think that it is missing in these cases. How could I since I think that is essential to consciousness as such? If you mean a more robust notion or concept of self—an autobiographical self, say—then yes, that is missing in these cases. But recall that I thought you meant by “mineness” something more robust and elaborated than you do.

    MS: In my model the reference to the organism does not involve the identification of the organism with oneself –this is what, Shoemaker argues, and I agree, is problematic– but what Shoemaker calls identification as a subject (provided by the role that the PQ plays in the regulation of the very same organism that the proto-self regulates).

    KW: Self-rep. sorts of views give an account (or try to) of what “identification as subject” amounts to or, if you like, its ultimate basis. That basis is the self-manifesting structure of consciousness. It is clear that we both think that any adequate theory of consciousness must account for this. I’ve long thought that one outstanding task for self-rep. is precisely to show how one can recover the notion of de se content from it and develop a full theory of indexicals on this basis. So, in my view, you have the cart before the horse. But I will be eager to see where your own competing approach leads you.

  34. Hi Ken, thank you very much for joining the discussion.

    I think that our main disagreement is about the purpose of our respective projects and about the problems that each of us see in the other’s project, but I might be wrong. So let me clarify a few things. I apologize if I miss an important detail.

    KW: [A]ny teleosemantic representationalist approach to consciousness—be it FO, HO, or SO—has to face up to version of the Swamp Man Problem. To me that problem has always seemed to be a reductio ad absurdum of any such approach.

    MS: I agree with you in this point.

    Many theories of mental content appeal to the teleological notion of function. According to these theories the content of a mental state is, roughly, what the mental state has the teleological function of indicating.

    We can distinguish between etiological and non-etiological theories of teleological function. The former maintain, whereas the latter deny, that the function of a trait depends on its causal history. Swampman poses a serious objection against a representational theory that depends on an etiological notion of function. I have, independently, argued against this kind of theories somewhere else (http://mindingthebrain.wordpress.com/2011/11/09/borderline-experiences-one-cannot-undergo/). Accounts of function based on a selection process seem not to be satisfactory for the purpose of naturalizing consciousness. Alternative theories of function are offered, for example, by [Schroeder2004, Mossio2009]. It is an open question whether they can satisfactorily account for the normativity in the relation of representation. I think they do, but showing this is beyond the purpose of the paper.

    KW: So you are saying that the conceptual representation of a self or organism (by the relevant brain processes and structures) just is subjective character—which itself involves no concepts at the level of consciousness.

    MS: I am not sure I understand your point. In my account, the representational content on which phenomenology depends is non-conceptual content. What I say in the paper is perfectly compatible with an account that maintains, for example, that conceptual representations, of the organism or any other entity, rest on phenomenology.

    I say more about the ‘two longing dogs’ objection below because I see the relevance of the phenomenological description for this purpose.

    KW: For Sartre (and me and Kriegel and arguably Damasio (in his notion of Core Self)) subjective character (which Sartre and I would identify with the reflexive or self-“representational” character of consciousness) is, ultimately, very minimal.

    MS: I agree

    KW: It is bare “for-itselfness” or self-presence.

    MS: I disagree. More on this below.

    KW: And it can persist even if all the more elaborate notions of self disappear.

    MS: I definitely agree with you

    KW: Here we go. Self-presence (reflexive structure, for-itselfness, ipseity, non-positional self-consciousness etc.) is not postulated, for God’s sake! It is a datum! Consciousness is present to itself. That is what elementary mineness, at the phenomenological level, just is.
    …your claim here strikes me as an indication, once again, that you are not actually taking self-“representationalism” (or, in this case, the phenomenology behind it) seriously enough. It ought to give one pause that just about every philosopher in the Phenomenological tradition (not to mention scores of them outside of it) accepted the idea that consciousness is self-manifesting. It is just frustrating that you, in effect, dismiss the whole idea with a couple of lines. For your own approach to be plausible, you need to elaborate on the phenomenology of mineness.

    MS: As you mention, philosophers in the phenomenological tradition (and outside of it) agree that consciousness requires a certain form of self-consciousness. In order to assess such a claim we need to understand what is meant by ‘self-consciousness’ (it is so often not clear at all in so many writings). In representational terms it can mean either that it represents itself or that it represents oneself. Many philosophers opt for the former. However, the main reason for that is typically (if not always) to avoid the postulation of a transcendental ego (as the one you thought I wanted to commit myself to). In this sense, my view might be seen as non-egological (that’s why I decided to avoid the term ‘egological’ and talked about ‘self-involving’ content).

    Here, again, is a description of the phenomenology of mineness from Zahavi and Gallagher’s article about ‘phenomenological approaches to self-consciousness’ that I consider to be clear enough for my current purposes and true (Rocco seem to disagree and maintain that such element is reflective and not pre-reflective):

    “…at the same time, as I live through these differences, there is something experiential that is, in some sense, the same, namely, their distinct first-personal character. All the experiences are characterized by a quality of mineness or for-me-ness, the fact that it is I who am having these experiences. All the experiences are given (at least tacitly) as my experiences, as experiences I am undergoing or living through. All of this suggests that first-person experience presents me with an immediate and non-observational access to myself, and that consequently (phenomenal) consciousness consequently entails a (minimal) form of self-consciousness.”

    I do not see that reflexivity immediately follows from this (note that I do not say that it cannot be explained through reflexivity). If we both agree that this is a fair description of the phenomenology of mineness, then this is what has to be explained. This is the data!

    Does this description entail an egological view. No it doesn’t and there are many arguments against this (I think that my model is immune to the ones I know)

    If you go with Sartre and maintain that what is certain is not that “I am aware of this chair,” but only that “there is awareness of this chair” I have to confess that I do not understand what you are talking about (I am not even sure about why this observation justifies any reflexitity). Although phenomenological disputes are difficult to settle, this view faces a serious problem because the ‘I’ element cannot be merely an object of consciousness if Shoemaker and many others are right.

    I am surprised by your claim and your exclamations, because we seem to agree about what has to be explained and, as a matter of fact, you write a bit later: “And the constant recurrence of reflexive structure when coupled with this temporality gives the sense of a single enduring point of view or subject-to-whom the world appears.” You agree that in every experience there seems to be a point of view or a subject-to-whom the world appears. You maintain that it is not essentially so, and you might be right, but I do not see what justifies such a claim. In any case this is what (I think we agree on that, but please correct me if I am wrong) has to be explained. If this is right, then the reflexivity is postulated to explain that there can be an enduring point of view or subject-to-whom the world appears.

    In the paper I focus on reductive theories. The only reductive account, that I know, which elaborates on constructing subjective character by appealling to reflexion is Kriegel’s and I think, and you seem to agree, this is not enough. I take your point and I should be more cautious in my rejection of MSI. Maybe combining it with a temporal structure we can have a satisfactory theory and maybe provide an account of the required de se content. As far as I know there is none.

    KW: “So we have an unconscious representation of something constituting a feature of consciousness. So suppose we accept the reductive representationalist strategy. How do we adjudicate what the representational content of the explanans ought to be? If someone told you that the subjectivity of consciousness is constituted by the unconscious representation of two dogs in heat, you would think they were crazy. But what makes an unconscious representation of one’s organism (and oneself qua organism) a better candidate than the two longing dogs?”

    “So it remains for you to characterize the phenomenology of mineness is a more rigorous and convincing way. If you don’t do that, one will wonder how you got to your representational explanans—especially given that you think it is conceptual at the brain level but non-conceptual at the level of consciousness. One will wonder Why that? Why not the two dogs in heat? Why isn’t one object or individual represented, just as good as any other?”

    Starting from Gallagher and Zahavi’s characterization above we need to explain in which respect experiences are about myself (or explain why it seems so): “All the experiences are given (at least tacitly) as MY experiences, as experiences I am undergoing or living through.” It is clearly not about myself in the same respect as it is about the apple (at this point I am already considering a representational theory of subjective character)

    It is not the case that the experience is about myself ‘as an organism’ or ‘as MS’. My experience of the apple is silent on both. My experience M is about myself ‘as the subject that is undergoing experience M’. Furthermore, as Shoemaker claims there is an ‘immunity to error through misidentification relative to the first-person pronoun’ in the expression “All the experiences are given (at least tacitly) as MY experiences”.

    We need to explain how a mental state might have such a particular content (de se). How the experience is about the entity that has the experience as such. There are a couple of question that might be helpful.

    What kind of entities have experiences? In a naturalistic framework, organisms are good candidates for this. In a centered world semantics, organisms would occupy the centered position. Organisms are prior to experiences, this does not mean that representations of organisms are prior to the experience.

    It cannot be a matter of representing one privileged organism and representing the apple. In this case we would have two representations ‘as an object’ and it is unclear, and Shoemaker has argued not possible, how can I come to identify myself with such an entity. We need to explain how the organism comes to attribute to itself a certain property:
    How is such a self-ascription possible without identification? How an organism represents itself as having a certain property.

    It is here where the notion of self-maintaining system is interesting and where a structure like Damasio’s proto-self enters into play. As I wrote: “what is relevant for the mental state is not only the properties that the apple has, but the fact that it is causing the activity of the neural network and that this neural network plays a relevant role in the homeodynamic regulation of a particular organism, the very same organism that the proto-self happens to regulate. The content is not just that the object is disposed to cause the state PQ (in normal conditions) but that the object is disposed to cause PQ in me, in the very same organism that the proto-self regulates”. (I now hesitate on whether there is any need to ascribe content to the proto-self)

    This attempt definitely require further elaboration and it might not be a satisfactory one. I do not know of any alternative and the discussion might help me to improve it.

  35. Hi Miguel. Well, seems like we are getting somewhere. I just have a few replies and comments.

    MS: If you go with Sartre and maintain that what is certain is not that “I am aware of this chair,” but only that “there is awareness of this chair” I have to confess that I do not understand what you are talking about (I am not even sure about why this observation justifies any reflexivity).

    KW: That’s a common misreading of a claim Sartre makes in The Transcendence of the Ego. There his point is just that at the pre-reflective level, an experience need not contain any representation of the “Ego” in his specific sense of that term in that book, namely, some sort of autobiographical self—a more elaborated notion of the self. But the point-of-view or subjective character (and sense of self in the more primitive and minimal sense) is always there. Sartre identifies that with non-positional (or pre-reflective) conscience (de) soi, as he puts in it Being and Nothingness—the reflexive or self-manifesting structure of consciousness. You’re right that the Lichtenbergian view you describe would not justify any reflexivity, but that’s emphatically not Sartre’s view, nor mine.

    MS: I am surprised by your claim and your exclamations, because we seem to agree about what has to be explained and, as a matter of fact, you write a bit later: “And the constant recurrence of reflexive structure when coupled with this temporality gives the sense of a single enduring point of view or subject-to-whom the world appears.” You agree that in every experience there seems to be a point of view or a subject-to-whom the world appears. You maintain that it is not essentially so, and you might be right, but I do not see what justifies such a claim.

    KW: What do you mean, I think that it is NOT essentially so? I think that the “point-of-view” or “subject-to-whom” feature IS INDEED an essential feature of all consciousness. I am not sure why you take me to be denying that.

    MS: In any case this is what (I think we agree on that, but please correct me if I am wrong) has to be explained. If this is right, then the reflexivity is postulated to explain that there can be an enduring point of view or subject-to-whom the world appears.

    KW: Yes, I agree that this is what has to be accounted for. But I disagree that reflexivity is postulated. I think you can derive reflexivity from the phenomenology of mineness, can reconstruct all the more robust forms of mineness (the notion of the autobiographical ego, etc.) from reflexivity, and can account for de se content (and give an account of indexicals) on the basis of reflexivity. In this sense, yes, I think there is explanatory work for reflexivity to do. But I don’t think that reflexivity is a postulate. I think consciousness is conscious of itself, directly. I think that there are good arguments for this, but I also think that you can see this via proper—and not even that difficult—phenomenological attention. Your computer screen is present right now as you read, and so is the presence of your computer screen. That the screen is present to you is itself present to you; and it was so prior to reflection on that fact. Phenomenal presence is phenomenally present, if you like. And the “to you” part is, at the phenomenological level (and once we strip away all the more elaborate conceptions of self), a “to this”; namely, a “to this very currently occurring phase of the stream of consciousness”. This way there is no reference to any sort of hidden entity. When I say “This event happened to me”, I mean, fundamentally, that the event was present to a consciousness that is connected (presumably via memory and casual history) to THIS very consciousness unfolding now and making the claim. This way mineness is not fundamentally about representing some privileged object; and representation of oneself as subject ultimately comes down to the immediate presence of a phase of consciousness to itself. But the full vindication of this claim would, of course, require more argument. (For a version of the sort of account I have in mind, you might look at my “Pre-Reflective Self-Consciousness and the Autobiographical Ego” in Reading Sartre (Jonathan Webber, ed., Routledge, 2011)). Anyway, so it looks like we both agree that a form of mineness (=subjective character) is necessary for consciousness; we just have different views about how to account for it. And I also think that it can become phenomenologically evident that the form of mineness is question is, ultimately, self-manifestation (or reflexivity); but you doubt that. Finally, I also think that the self-“representationalism” has the resources to ground de se content and so is, at the explanatory level, more powerful than what you are proposing. Does that seem like a fair description of where we disagree? Sorry I did not engage in any exclamations this time! It seems to depend on the time of day I write.

  36. Thank you very much Ken!
    I apologize for the misunderstanding, after your clarification everything is much clearer to me. REALLY helpful .
    I think that you made an excellent review of our disagreements. I obviously disagree about the explanatory advantage of your proposal; probably because of our disagreement about reflexivity –I will definitely read your paper– and my skepticism about the project of grounding de se content in reflexivity.

  37. It has been an really great discussion!!

    I would like to thank again Rocco Gennaro, Robert Lurz and Kenneth Williford for their sharp comments. Also to Assaf, Carlos and again Rocco and Ken for the amazing discussion. I have learned a lot and enjoyed this really productive exchange. My paper will improve a lot thanks to you!!

    My last words are for Richard. Thank you very much for making this possible!
    I hope to see you all in future editions of the Consciousness Online Conference!!

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