Tuesday, February 12, 3:15PM
Tate Center, Room 202
A reception will follow at the Philosophy Office, 14 Glebe Street
“Every consciousness upon whatever object it is primarily directed, is constantly directed upon itself,” wrote Franz Brentano in 1874 in his seminal work, Psychology From an Empirical Standpoint. This assertion of the unity of consciousness as reflexive awareness, which finds its roots in Aristotle, has been both criticized and vigorously defended by contemporary philosophers working in the interdisciplinary field of Consciousness Studies. In this presentation, I first consider various alternatives to the reflexivist theory of consciousness, specifically higher-order, representationalist, token-physicalist, and dualist theories. I then review evidence from embodied cognitive science that highlights various problems these latter theories face in accounting for the character of consciousness. Finally, I entertain the question whether this sort of evidence provides sufficient ground for claiming that something like a pre-reflective self-awareness is prior to the types of consciousness that presuppose conceptual and narrative competence.