Closing in on the constitution of consciousness

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Abstract

The science of consciousness is a nascent and thriving field of research that is founded on identifying the minimally sufficient neural correlates of consciousness. However, I have argued that it is the neural constitution of consciousness that science seeks to understand and that there are no evident strategies for distinguishing the correlates and constitution of (phenomenal) consciousness. Here I review this correlation/constitution distinction problem and challenge the existing foundations of consciousness science. I present the main analyses from a longer paper in press on this issue, focusing on recording, inhibition, stimulation, and combined inhibition/stimulation strategies, including proposal of the Jenga analogy to illustrate why identifying the minimally sufficient neural correlates of consciousness should not be considered the ultimate target of consciousness science. Thereafter I suggest that while combined inhibition and stimulation strategies might identify some constitutive neural activities-indeed minimally sufficient constitutive neural activities-such strategies fail to identify the whole neural constitution of consciousness and thus the correlation/constitution distinction problem is not fully solved. Various clarifications, potential objections and related scientific and philosophical issues are also discussed and I conclude by proposing new foundational claims for consciousness science. ? 2014 Miller.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1 - 18
Number of pages18
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Volume5
Issue numberNOV (Art. No.: 1293)
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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