Ten Problems of Consciousness: A Representational Theory of the Phenomenal Mind

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MIT Press, 1995 - Psychology - 248 pages

Can neurophysiology ever reveal to us what it is like to smell a skunk or to experience pain? In what does the feeling of happiness consist? How is it that changes in the white and gray matter composing our brains generate subjective sensations and feelings? These are several of the questions that Michael Tye addresses, while formulating a new and enlightening theory about the phenomenal "what it feels like" aspect of consciousness. The test of any such theory, according to Tye, lies in how well it handles ten critical problems of consciousness.

Tye argues that all experiences and all feelings represent things, and that their phenomenal aspects are to be understood in terms of what they represent. He develops this representational approach to consciousness in detail with great ingenuity and originality. In the book's first part Tye lays out the domain, the ten problems and an associated paradox, along with all the theories currently available and the difficulties they face. In part two, he develops his intentionalist approach to consciousness. Special summaries are provided in boxes and the ten problems are illustrated with cartoons.

A Bradford Book

Representation and Mind series


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Page 95 - Every mental phenomenon is characterized by what the Scholastics of the Middle Ages called the intentional (or mental) inexistence of an object...
Page 15 - ... how it is that anything so remarkable as a state of consciousness comes about as the result of irritating nervous tissue, is just as unaccountable as the appearance of the Djin when Aladdin rubbed his lamp in the story.
Page 95 - Each one includes something as an object within itself, although not always in the same way. In presentation something is presented, in judgement something is affirmed or denied, in love [something] is loved, in hate [something] is hated, in desire [something] desired, etc.
Page 111 - It certainly seems plausible that "in" as applied in locating pains differs in meaning systematically from the standard spatial enclosure sense. (Block 1983, p. 517) This seems to me quite wrong. There is no more reason to adopt the strange position that "in...
Page 6 - Life lost a good deal of its savour — one doesn't realise how much 'savour' is smell. You smell people, you smell books, you smell the city, you smell the spring — maybe not consciously, but as a rich unconscious background to everything else.
Page 60 - Spurs' winning is the most likely candidate to be what caused the report in The Times. But I also know that Spurs' winning would have had many effects, including almost certainly a report in The Telegraph. I am arguing from one effect back to its cause and out again to another effect. The fact that neither effect causes the other is irrelevant. Now the epiphenomenalist allows that qualia are effects of what goes on in the brain. Qualia cause nothing physical but are caused by something physical.
Page 116 - ... located. Of course, pains do not themselves normally cause feelings that cause dislike: they are such feelings, at least in typical cases. So, pains are not painful in the above sense. Still, they are painful in a slightly weaker sense: they typically elicit the cognitive reactions described above.6 Moreover, when we introspect our pains we are aware of their sensory contents as painful. This is why if I have a pain in my leg I am intuitively aware of something in my leg as painful (and not in...
Page 93 - These differ in an important respect, which calls for a subdivision within the class of what we are calling sensations: bodily sensations do not have an intentional object in the way that perceptual experiences do. We distinguish between a visual experience and what it is an experience of; but we do not make this distinction in respect of pains. Or again, visual experiences represent the world as being a certain way, but pains have no such representational content.
Page 5 - Consciousness is the perception of what passes in a man's own mind. Can another man perceive that I am conscious of any thing, when I perceive it not myself?
Page 57 - All right, there is no knockdown refutation of the existence of epiphenomenal qualia. But the fact remains that they are an excrescence. They do nothing, they explain nothing, they serve merely to soothe the intuitions of dualists, and it is left a total mystery how they fit into the world view of science. In short we do not and cannot understand the how and why of them.

About the author (1995)

Michael Tye is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of Ten Problems of Consciousness (1995), Consciousness, Color, and Content (2000), and Consciousness and Persons (2003), all published by the MIT Press.

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