Vol 11 (2005)

Table of Contents

Book Reviews

Review of Zenon Pylyshyn's Seeing and Visualizing: It's Not What You Think Summary Full Text
Catharine Abell
This book has three principle aims: to show that neither vision nor mental imagery involves the creation or inspection of picture-like mental representations; to defend the claim that our visual processes are, in significant part, cognitively impenetrable; and to develop a theory of “visual indexes”. In what follows, I assess Pylyshyn’s success in realising each of these aims in turn. I focus primarily on his arguments against “picture theories” of vision and mental imagery, to which approximately half the book is devoted. I argue that Pylyshyn adopts an unnecessarily restricted interpretation of what it would be for mental representations to be picture-like, and that this leads him prematurely to reject the possibility of explaining the introspective evidence concerning the nature of mental imagery.
Review of Adam Zeman's Consciousness: A User's Guide Summary Full Text
Carol Slater
Adam Zeman has given us an intriguing book, one that, on principle, eludes easy categorization. On the one hand, like any user’s guide, Consciousness provides information ranging from the most basic (geography of a generic cell) to the highly specialized (competing anatomical explanations of blindsight), plus a fifteen page glossary of technical terms (acetylcholine to theta rhythm, achromatopsia to ventral stream). Like any manual, Consciousness is no cosy cover-to-cover read; in a preliminary note, Zeman considerately (albeit reluctantly) suggests selective strategies. For all that, the User’s Guide is far from being a typical manual or, for that matter, a standard text of any sort. Zeman sees the study of consciousness as positioned on “a fault line in human thought...between the sciences and the arts” (xi) and hopes “to mediate between...scientists and philosophers [who have]...an interest in consciousness” (7). Beyond interpreting the work of each community to the other, Zeman wants to challenge their entrenched separation. Late in the book, he wistfully conjures up sophisticated alien intelligences who report with bemusement a “curious” division between arts and sciences observed among earthlings (335). Readers who pick up Consciousness: A user’s guide should be prepared for a highly personal vade mecum.
Review of Cacioppo & Berntson (Eds) Essays in Social Neuroscience Summary Full Text
Cordelia Fine
This book is a celebration of the discipline of social neuroscience, and the striking combinations of words that appear in these collected essays provide impressive testimony to the ambitiousness of the endeavour. ‘Oxytocin’ and ‘love’ appear together in the title of C.S. Carter’s essay, while ‘self-enhancement’ and ‘hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis’ make equally unlikely bedfellows in the text of S.E. Taylor’s essay on the effect of social and psychological factors on the course of illness. And to choose a third example from many possibilities, R.J. Davidson’s essay about the causes and consequences of affective style, presents ‘meditation’ and ‘baseline brain electrical asymmetry’ in the same paragraph.
Review of Jose Luis Bermudez: Thinking Without Words Summary Full Text
Pessi Lyyra
Cognitive sciences such as developmental psychology, cognitive ethology and cognitive archaeology continuously produce evidence of high-level thinking in non-linguistic creatures. José Luis Bermúdez applies this evidence in formulating a philosophical theory of non-linguistic thought, the main elements of which I summarise here. While I agree with most of the positive aspects of his theory of non-linguistic thought, I argue that the negative aspects of his theory—according to which non-linguistic creatures are denied metacognitive capacities—fails to take into account the evidence from aphasia. I conclude by offering a way of conceiving of non-linguistic metarepresentational thought.
A Review of Jeffrey Gray's Consciousness: Creeping up on the Hard Problem Summary Full Text
Stephen Biggs
Jeffrey Gray’s Consciousness: Creeping up on the Hard Problem will be enjoyed by everyone interested in consciousness. Gray, a neuropsychologist, eloquently summarizes significant experimental results on consciousness and, more importantly, explains both how these results interrelate and how they constrain potential theories of consciousness. He also uses these results to build a novel, fascinating theory of what consciousness does and does not do. Throughout the work Gray’s accessible presentation remains deeply respectful of psychologists, neuroscientists, and philosophers’ approaches to consciousness. In this respect, Gray’s book is an ideal work for an interdisciplinary audience. Sadly, Gray died three months before the publication of this excellent work.
Review of P. O. Haikonen, The Cognitive Approach to Conscious Machines Summary Full Text
Mitch Parsell
Haikonen (2003) is an attempt to explicate a platform for modelling consciousness. The book sets out the foundational concepts behind Haikonen’s work in the area and proposes a particular modelling environment. This is developed in three parts: part 1 offers a brief analysis of the state of play in cognitive modelling; part 2 an extended treatment of the phenomena to be explained; part 3 promises a synthesis of the two preceding discussions to provide the necessary background and detail for the proposed modelling environment. This final part covers a broad range of technical details from the nature of the representational-computational economy instantiated, to the control of motor output, to the means of implementing emotions in artefacts. Haikonen proposes an environment based on a distributed representational economy, instantiated in a neural network architecture and trained using associative learning regimes, but which also has symbolic processing abilities to handle the critical task of generating inner language.
Review of P. Ludlow, Y. Nagasawa & D. Stoljar (eds.), There's Something about Mary: Essays on Phenomenal Consciousness and Frank Jackson's Knowledge Argument Summary Full Text
Torin Alter
The titular ‘Mary’ refers to Jackson’s famous protagonist. Her story takes place in the future, when all physical facts have been discovered. This includes “everything in completed physics, chemistry, and neurophysiology, and all there is to know about the causal and relational facts consequent upon all this, including of course functional roles” (Jackson 1982, p. 51). Mary learns all this by watching lectures on a monochromatic television monitor. But she spends her life in a black-and-white room and has no color experiences. Then she leaves the room and sees colors for the first time.
Susan Blackmore: Consciousness: An Introduction Summary Full Text
William Seager
There are plenty of books about consciousness, but none of them is like this book. On the first page we discover that ‘a great deal of this book is aimed at increasing rather than decreasing your perplexity’. At this Blackmore certainly succeeds. This is a testimony not only to the subject matter but her own deft and relentless exploration of every facet of consciousness as well as its study. It is her positive aim to lead the reader to the mystery inherent in even the most everyday forms of consciousness and to show conversely that truly exotic forms of consciousness are not that out of the ordinary.
The "One-Experience" Account of Phenomenal Unity: A Review of Michael Tye's "Consciousness and Persons "-  Full Text
Bernard W. Kobes
Review of Murray Clarke's, Reconstructing Reason and Representation Summary Full Text
Derek Browne
Consciousness has been defined as that annoying period between naps, and this grumpy definition may not be wholly facetious, if Michael Tye’s latest book is right. Tye’s main goal here is to develop a theory of the phenomenal unity of experience at a time, and its diachronic analog, the moment-to-moment continuity of one’s experiential stream from the time one wakes up to the time consciousness lapses.
Consciousness Made Manifest? Review of Science and the Riddle of Consciousness by Jeffrey Foss Summary Full Text
Andrew Bailey
Reconstructing reason and representation is a no small ambition. Is Clarke up to it? His basic theoretical postulate is the massive modularity hypothesis, one of the Founding Articles of High Church Evolutionary Psychology (hereafter EP). Clarke defends the massive modularity hypothesis against its critics – well, to be precise, against Jerry Fodor. Fodor’s main argument is that cognitive modules cannot do nondemonstrative (abductive) reasoning in an effective and economical way. The problem is that, given a particular problem and given that we have access to some large library of general knowledge, there seem to be no tractable rules for determining which items in the library are specifically relevant to the process of solving this particular problem. The trick is to know how to select, from the vast sea of irrelevant information in the library, the few bits of information that are relevant here and now. Modules don’t face the problem of selecting relevant information from a large library of accessible information. They solve the relevance problem noncognitively: information encapsulation puts walls around a body of information and gives the modular system free access to everything inside the room.
A Review of Rocco J. Gennaro (ed.), Higher-Order Theories of Consciousness: An Anthology Summary Full Text
Michael Bruno
Higher-Order Theories of Consciousness: An Anthology, edited by Rocco J. Gennaro, brings together fourteen new essays exploring the relative merits of and problems with higher-order representation (HOR) theories of consciousness. The anthology is divided into two parts. Part I contains articles by proponents of HOR theories arguing for their favorite version of the theory (Rosenthal, Gennaro, Van Gulick, Carruthers, and Lycan), responding to well-known objections (Gennaro, Van Gulick, and Lycan), and exploring potentially vindicating empirical results (Carruthers, Rolls, and Dienes and Perner). Part II contains critical articles which attempt to press both traditional objections (Seager) as well as new ones (Byrne, Lurz, and Robinson) to HOR theory, to undermine considerations usually put forth in its favor (Byrne, Lurz, Dulany, and Hardcastle), and to offer alternative theories which might appeal to HOR theorists (Lurz, Robinson, and Hill).
A Review of Brie Gertler (ed.), Privileged Access: Philosophical Accounts of Self-Knowledge Summary Full Text
Philippe Vellozzo
Privileged Access provides a very valuable survey of contemporary philosophical views and issues on the classical topic of self-knowledge (knowledge of one’s own mind). The book is in part an anthology of previously published papers, but it also contains nine new essays, most of which deal directly with the issue of privileged access to one’s own mental states.
A Review of D. Zahavi, T. Grunbaum & J. Parnas (eds.), The Structure and Development of Self-Consciousness Summary Full Text
Mathilde Byskov Jakobsen
The Structure and Development of Self-Consciousness is a collection of articles on self- consciousness by psychologists, cognitive scientists and philosophers. In the preface Zahavi and Grunbaum state the two main aims of the collection as being, first, to demonstrate that self-consciousness is a complex phenomenon requiring an interdisciplinary approach and, second, to argue for the existence of a kind of self-consciousness which is primitive, implicit, pre-reflective and bodily. In this review I will first give a summary of each of the articles in the collection, and then give an evaluation of it with these two aims in mind.
A Review of Colin McGinn's Mindsight Summary Full Text
Casey Woodling
Anyone who has been around analytic philosophy the past 20 years knows that consciousness is in. These days much effort is spent playing whack-a-dualist. It seems that anyone who is anyone has written a book on the metaphysics of mind. Colin McGinn's new book marks a refreshing departure from this trend. Mindsight: Image, Dream, Meaning discusses the role imagination plays in the way we represent the world; the role it plays in dreams and some mental illnesses; and the fundamental role it plays in belief and meaning.

 

Articles

Difference Tone TrainingSummary Full Text
Eric Schwitzgebel
This demonstration recreates an example of introspective training from E.B. Titchener's laboratory manual of 1901-1905. The purpose is to prompt thought about the prospects of introspective training as a means of improving the quality of introspective reports about conscious experience. The demonstration requires speakers or headphones, and a high-speed internet connection is recommended.
Precis: Being No One Summary Full Text
Thomas Metzinger
This is a short sketch of some central ideas developed in my recent book Being No One (BNO hereafter). A more systematic summary, which focuses on short answers to a set of specific, individual questions is already contained in the book, namely as BNO section 8.2. Here, I deliberately and completely exclude all work related to semantically differentiating and empirically constraining the philosophical concept of a ";quale"; (mostly Chapter 2, 3 & 8), all proposals regarding conceptual foundations for the overall theory (2 & 5), all of the neurophenomenological case-studies used to test and refine it (4 & 7), and all remarks of a more general or methodological character (1 & 8). In particular, the present Précis does not follow the structure of the book. Instead, it simply sums up what the theory has to say about its three major epistemic targets, namely about consciousness (Section 2), the phenomenal self (Section 3), and the emergence of a first-person perspective (Section 4).
Being Someone Summary Full Text
Dan Zahavi
My discussion will focus on what is arguable the main claim of Being No One: That no such things as selves exist in the world and that nobody ever was or had a self. In discussing to what extent Metzinger can be said to argue convincingly for this claim, I will also comment on his methodological use of pathology and briefly make some remarks vis-à-vis his understanding and criticism of phenomenology.
Consciousness Constrained: A Commentary on Being No One Summary Full Text
Josh Weisberg
In this commentary, I criticize Metzinger's interdisciplinary approach to fixing the explanandum of a theory of consciousness and I offer a commonsense alternative in its place. I then re-evaluate Metzinger's multi-faceted working concept of consciousness, and argue for a shift away from the notion of ";global availability"; and towards the notions of ";perspectivalness"; and ";transparency."; This serves to highlight the role of Metzinger's ";phenomenal model of the intentionality relation"; (PMIR) in explaining consciousness, and it helps to locate Metzinger's theory in relation to other naturalistic theories of consciousness. I conclude that Metzinger's theory has close affinity to ";monitoring"; theories of consciousness, as opposed to ";first-order representational"; or ";global workspace"; theories.
Finally Some One: Reflections on Thomas Metzinger's "Being No One" Summary Full Text
Allan Hobson

I praise Metzinger's book On Being No One by calling my essay ";Finally Some One"; meaning that I am pleased to see a first rate philosopher so carefully reading the neurobiological literature. Especially as it pertains to sleep and dreaming. Metzinger is comprehensive and comprehending. By studying the neurobiological substrates of normal dreaming, lucid dreaming and related altered states of consciousness (such as out of body experiences, hypnosis, and deja' vu), we may gain insight into the general rules governing brain activity in relation to subjective experience. My quarrel with Metzinger concerns his refusal to call first person accounts data. I describe the rationale and strategy for placing heavy and confident emphasis on first person accounts and show how our own methodology reveals reliable and valid data. I further argue that such accounts must be accorded data states if we are to make any progress in solving the mind-brain problem.

Metzinger's Matrix: Living the Virtual Life with a Real Body Summary Full Text
Shaun Gallagher
Is it possible to say that there is no real self if we take a non-Cartesian view of the body? Is it possible to say that an organism can engage in pragmatic action and intersubjective interaction and that the self generated in such activity is not real? This depends on how we define the concept ";real";. By taking a close look at embodied action, and at Metzinger's concept of embodiment, I want to argue that, on a non-Cartesian concept of reality, the self should be considered something real, and not simply an illusion.
The Problem of Explaining Phenomenal Selfhood: A Comment on Thomas Metzinger's Self-Model Theory of Subjectivity Summary Full Text
Kenneth Einar Himma
Thomas Metzinger argues that phenomenal selves are appearances produced by the ongoing operations of a “self-model” that simulates, emulates, and represents aspects of the system’s states to itself – and not substantial things. In this essay, I explain the nature of phenomenal selfhood and then describe the most important problem that arises in connection with explaining phenomenal selfhood. I then argue that, by itself, the self-model theory of subjectivity lacks sufficient resources to wholly solve this problem and that Metzinger’s argument does not justify his ontological conclusions about selves.
Transparently Oneself Summary Full Text
Dorothee Legrand
Different points of Metzinger's position makes it a peculiar form of representationalism: (1) his distinction between intentional and phenomenal content, in relation to the internalism/externalism divide; (2) the notion of transparency defined at a phenomenal and not epistemic level, together with (3) the felt inwardness of experience. The distinction between reflexive and pre-reflexive phenomenal internality will allow me to reconsider Metzinger's theory of the self and to propose an alternative conception that I will describe both at an epistemic and a phenomenal level.
What a Self Could Be Summary Full Text
Marcello Ghin
Metzinger’s claim that there are no such things as selves has given rise to a lot of discussions. By examining the notion of self used by Metzinger, I want to clarify what he means when saying that nobody ever was or had a self. Furthermore, I want to examine if there could be a notion of ‘self’ which is compatible with the Self-Model Theory of Subjectivity (SMT). I will argue that there is a notion of self which is not only compatible with the SMT, but that the SMT also provides the theoretical framework for developing such a notion.
What is Transparency? Summary Full Text
Pierre Livet
Opacity, in Metzinger’s sense, is access to processed information as processed, while transparency is only access to the content of our phenomenal states. I suspect that transparency conflates different notions. First I show that every conscious experience has a “transparent” core (involving intentionality, directedness and assumption of existence, insensitivity to some unconscious process). Anyway, to be sensitive to earlier processing steps does not imply to take the representation “as modeled by our simulator”. There are other ways of being sensitive to this processing experience: experience of gaps in perceptive synthesis, experience of incompleteness, queerness of experience, phenomenal incoherence, searching consciousness. Many of them implies only to put in abeyance incoherence or incompleteness (to be laterally aware of a conflict without dealing with it), or even to put this abeyance into abeyance (not to take into account the absence of solution). But if the conflict becomes serious, we revise our assumption, and this requires the assumption that the conflict is about existing things. The self has a peculiar property here. Even when I revise one aspect of my self, I have to presuppose a self, in the sense that I put in abeyance other revisions of this presupposed self. Self is not a simulation, even if we have only this peculiar access to it.
Cortical Feedback and the Ineffability of Colors Summary Full Text
Mark F. Sharlow
Philosophers long have noted that some sensations (particularly those of color) seem to be ineffable, or refractory to verbal description. Some proposed neurophysiological explanations of this ineffability deny the intuitive view that sensations have inherently indescribable content. The present paper suggests a new explanation of ineffability that does not have this deflationary consequence. According to the hypothesis presented here, feedback modulation of information flow in the cortex interferes with the production of narratives about sensations, thereby causing the subject to assess as inadequate his or her own verbal descriptions of sensations.