Consciousness and its contents: A response to de Quincey
Topics:Theory of Consciousness
Keywords:consciousness, self-consciousness, free will
Deposited by:Prof. Gilberto Gomes on 20 March 2009
Date of Issue:2007
Journal/Publication Title:Journal of Consciousness Studies
Abstract:The word ‘consciousness’ is used in different ways, but not all of these uses reflect clear concepts or should be retained in technical discussions. In order to clarify the meaning of consciousness we should first try to agree on some empirical criterion that allows one to distinguish between being conscious and being unconscious of something in some typical cases. The most obvious such criterion consists in asking a person about whether she was conscious of something. However, there is no reason to suppose that the actual capacity to report is an indispensable feature of consciousness. Aphasics, babies and animals may be conscious without the capacity to report what they are conscious of. Different forms of consciousness may reflect different contents of consciousness. Two higher levels of self-consciousness may be specifically human. One is consciousness of being conscious of something. Another is consciousness of decision making. The article confronts these proposals with those of De Quincey (2006).