By Rocco J. Gennaro
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Extra resources for Higher-Order Theories of Consciousness: An Anthology (Advances in Consciousness Research, 56)
But consciousness does not always represent Varieties of higher-order theory our mental states accurately. Consciousness seems infallible because it never shows itself to be mistaken and it’s tempting to think that there’s no other way to know what mental states one is in. But consciousness is not the only way to determine what mental state one is in, and there is sometimes compelling independent evidence that goes against what consciousness tells us. Carruthers argues that there could have been little evolutionary pressure for the routine generation of HOTs for all the thoughts and experiences in daily practical activity.
The more dramatic the misrepresentation, the greater the temptation to say the target is absent; but it’s plainly open in any such case to say either. The two kinds of case, moreover, should occasion the same kinds of phenomenological perplexities, if any. A higherorder awareness of a P state without any P state would be subjectively the same whether or not a Q state occurs. The first-order state can contribute nothing to phenomenology apart from the way we’re conscious of it. On an intrinsic theory, we do have a nonarbitrary reason to say that the target is never absent; whatever state the higher-order awareness is part of counts as the target.
As Brentano put it, all mental acts “apprehend [them- Varieties of higher-order theory selves] incidentally” (1973/1874: 128). Every conscious state, on this view, is about itself as well as some nonmental reality. Carruthers’s view actually seems to be a version of such an intrinsic theory. The higher-order content in virtue of which a state is conscious, on his view, belongs categorically to the very state that is conscious. Though the higherorder content is a matter of the state’s having connections with the mindreading system, that content is a property of the target state one is conscious of, not a distinct higher-order state.
Higher-Order Theories of Consciousness: An Anthology (Advances in Consciousness Research, 56) by Rocco J. Gennaro