Consciousness and Mind

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Clarendon Press, Nov 17, 2005 - Psychology - 392 pages
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Consciousness and Mind presents David Rosenthal'sinfluential work on the nature of consciousness. Central to that work isRosenthal's higher-order-thought theory of consciousness, according to which asensation, thought, or other mental state is conscious if one has ahigher-order thought (HOT) that one is in that state. The first fouressays develop various aspects of that theory.The next three essays present Rosenthal's homomorphism theory ofmental qualities and qualitative consciousness, and show how thattheory fits with and helps sustain the HOT theory. A crucial featureof homomorphism theory is that it individuates and taxonomizes mentalqualities independently of the way we're conscious of them, and indeedindependently of our being conscious of them at all. So the theoryaccommodates the qualitative character not only of conscious sensationsand perceptions, but also of those which fall outside our stream ofconsciousness. Rosenthal argues that, because this account of mentalqualities makes no appeal to consciousness, it enables us to dispel suchtraditional quandaries as the alleged conceivability of undetectablequality inversion, and to disarm various apparent obstacles toexplaining qualitative consciousness and understanding its nature.Six further essays build on the HOT theory to explain various importantfeatures of consciousness, among them the complex connections thathold in humans between consciousness and speech, the self-interpretativeaspect of consciousness, and the compelling sense we have thatconsciousness is unified.Two of the essays, one an extended treatment of homomorphism theory,appear here for the first time. There is also a substantive introduction,which draws out the connections between the essays and highlights their implications.

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About the author (2005)

David Rosenthal is at Graduate Center, City University of New York.

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