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The Nature of Consciousness

23 November, 2015 - 09:44
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What are the roles of the different mental processes in the nature of consciousness?

What is the role of vision in thinking? If vision is a large part of thought processes, how does that change the nature of how an experience feels?

Judgements require concepts, however visual representations don't necessarily use concepts - you could just represent something in the world to yourself without thinking about it - so they don't require concepts but they probably use them in most cases. That is - most visual representations require thought, which means that they would require concepts. I would think that when concepts are used would be when an attitude is triggered - then you might start thinking about how you feel towards certain concepts. How does an image get conceptualized? Fodor asks that question here but doesn't offer an explanation (Fodor, 2007):

  • Judgement requires conceptualization even if (as I suppose) representation doesn't; and, of course, there's no conceptualization without concepts. The question how (for example, by what computational process) iconic representations might get conceptualized is, of course, very hard and the answer is unknown for practically any of the interesting cases. On the way of looking at things of which I've been trying to convince you, that is a large part of what the psychology of perception is about.

Phenomenal states are perceptual - their vehicles belong to one of the 5 senses. So when you experience something, it is physical and sensory in nature. However, a mental image is inside your head and that is different from physically seeing something. In this quote (Prinz, 2007) says that "perceptual formats may have a kind of content that is not representational" that means that "conscious states comprise mental representations, but notice that it does not entail representationalism":

  • I will define a perceptually conscious mental state as a mental state that is couched in a perceptual format. A perceptual format is a representational system that is proprietary to a sense modality. To say that phenomenal states are conceptual is to say that their representational vehicles always belong to one of the senses: touch, vision, audition, olfaction, and so on. This assumes that conscious states comprise mental representations, but notice that it does not entail representationalism, the thesis that every difference in phenomenal qualities is a difference in representational content. Perceptual formats may have a kind of content that is not representational, such that two perceptual representations can represent the same thing even though they are phenomenally distinct. With Peacocke (1983) I suspect that this is right. For example, I think we can phenomenally represent the feature of being located to the left of us, by vision, audition, touch, and probably smell. There is very good evidence that there are multiple modality-specific spatial maps in the brain (e.g., Gross and Graziano, 1995), and these may underwrite distinct phenomenal qualities even if they sometimes represent the same spatial features. So, in my definition on perceptual consciousness, I am committing only to the thesis that perceptually conscious states comprise mental entities that are in the business of representing. This definition would need to be amended only if we discovered that perceptual format includes components that are not representational in nature. It is sometimes suggested that there are words in languages that don't serve a referential function. Some expletives, particles, and logical operators may fall into this category. Perhaps perceptual symbol systems contain such things as well, and perhaps these things can contribute to the phenomenal quality of an experience. I am willing to accept that possibility. The key point about perceptual consciousness is the claim that perceptually conscious states have a perceptual format.

What does he mean in the final line of the passage - "perceptually conscious states have a perceptual format". That is being a little redundant - I mean, if the input from the world is perceptual then it makes sense that it is going to be perceptual in your mind. How the mind interprets, biases, thinks about, changes etc sensory inputs is an interesting question. Also does the mind convert sensory inputs into conceptual ideas? How does the vision of something outside the mind change when you think about that same vision independent of the stimulus? Does the mind use the same representations for different stimuli? - How are representations categorized, identified, utilized and felt by the mind?