Functions of consciousness

Document Type: 
Book Chapter
Article Type: 
Review
Disciplines: 
Philosophy
Topics: 
Theory of Consciousness
Keywords: 
functions consciousness
Deposited by: 
Dr Anil Seth
Date of Issue: 
2008
Authors: 
Anil K Seth
Title of Book: 
Elsevier Encyclopedia of Consciousness
Publisher: 
Elsevier
Alternative URL: 
http://www.anilseth.com
Abstract: 
A major challenge for the successful naturalization of consciousness lies in locating its biological function, or functions. Although common sense suggests that conscious experience has many important functional roles in our lives, experiments and theoretical arguments challenge these everyday intuitions. This chapter begins with some necessary conceptual ground-clearing, reviewing the possibility that consciousness does not have a function and dealing with ambiguities in the meaning of ‘function’ and of ‘consciousness’. We then consider a range of putative functions for consciousness, covering both cognitive perspectives and proposals grounded in neural dynamics. Finally, we consider the possibility that consciousness may have multiple functions.
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