Volume 2, Issue 1, 2004

Consciousness Reassessed (pdf)
Karl H. Pribram, Department of Psychology, Georgetown University, Washington D.C., USA

Many sophisticated essays and books have been written about the topic of consciousness. My own contributions date back some twenty-five years in an essay entitled "Problems concerning the structure of consciousness'', and five years before that in delineating the difference between brain processes that are coordinate with awareness and those that are coordinate with habitual behavior.  I have been intrigued by what has been written since and take this occasion to reassess a few of the major issues that have arisen.

The Illusory and the Real (pdf)
Jason W. Brown, Department of Neurology, New York University School of Medicine, New York, USA

This contribution explores the psychological basis of illusion and the feeling of what is real in relation to a process theory (microgenesis) of  mind/brain states. The varieties of illusion and the alterations in the feeling of realness are illustrated in cases of clinical pathology, as well as in everyday life. The basis of illusion does not rest in a comparison of appearance to reality nor in the relation of image to object, since these are antecedent and consequent phases in the same mental state. The study of pathological illusions and hallucinations shows that the feeling of realness in an object depends on its coherence within and across perceptual modalities. Illusion is shown to be not the taking of the phenomenal for the real, but the overlooking of the real in the phenomenal, since all things exist, i.e. are real, as categories of intrinsic relations in the unique mode of their conception. Finally, the implications of the account are discussed in relation to moral conduct, self-realization, acceptance, and the will to enjoy a world of "brain-born'' mental phenomena.

The Phenomenological Role of Consciousness in Measurement  (pdf)
Patrick A. Heelan, Department of Philosophy, Georgetown University, Washington D.C., USA

A structural analogy is pointed out between a hermeneutically developed phenomenological description, based on Husserl, of the process of perceptual cognition on the one hand and quantum mechanical measurement on the other hand. In Husserl's analytic phase of the cognition process, the "intentionality-structure'' of the subject/object    union prior to predication of a local object is an entangled symmetry-making state, and this entanglement is broken in the synthetic phase when the particular local object is constituted under the influence of an eidos ("inner horizon'') and the "facticity'' of the local world ("outer horizon''). Replacing "perceptual cognition'' by "measurement'' and "subject'' by "expert subject using a measuring device'' the analogy of a formal quantum structure is extended to the conscious structure of all empirical cognition. This is laid out in three theses: about perception, about classical measurement, and about quantum measurement. The results point to the need for research into the quantum structure of the physical embodiment of human cognition.

Consciousness as Existence, Devout Physicalism, Spiritualism (pdf)
Ted Honderich, Faculty of Arts, University College London, Great Britain

Consider three answers to the question of what it actually is for you to be aware of the room you are in. (1) It is for the room in a way to exist. (2) It is for there to be only physical activity in your head, however additionally described. (3) It is for there to be non-spatial facts somehow in your head. The first theory, unlike the other two, satisfies five criteria for an adequate account of consciousness itself. The criteria have to do with the seeming nature of this consciousness, and with subjectivity, reality including non-abstractness, mind-body causation, and the differences between perceptual, reflective and affective consciousness. The theory of consciousness as existence is not open to the objection having to do with a deluded brain in a vat. The theory, as any theory of consciousness needs to,  explains its own degree of failure in characterizing consciousness. It releases neuroscience and cognitive science from nervousness about consciousness, and leaves all of consciousness a subject for science. The theory is a reconstruction of our conception of consciousness. It may be that we should carry forward several theories of consciousness. But they will have to be compared in terms of truth to the five criteria for an adequate theory.

Dyadic Correlations between Brain Functional States: Present Facts and Future Perspectives (pdf)
Jiri Wackermann, Department of Empirical and Analytical Psychophysics, Institute for Frontier Areas of Psychology and Mental Health, Freiburg, Germany

For about four decades data suggestive of correlations between functional states of two separated brains, not mediated by sensory or other known mechanisms, were reported, but the experimental evidence is still scarce and controversial. In this paper we briefly review studies in which one member of a pair of human subjects was physically stimulated and synchronous correlates were searched for in the brain electrical activity of the other, non-stimulated subject. We give a comprehensive account of our study of dyadic EEG correlations, discussing pros and contras of its design, and we review parallel and follow-up studies on the same topic carried out elsewhere. Possible directions of future research are discussed and novel experimental paradigms are proposed.

Last revision: 15 June 2004