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P-consciousness, a-consciousness, and reflexes

  1. Dec 23, 2004 #1


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    (BTW I searched for another thread dealing with this issue but couldn't find one.)

    To get a better grasp on the distinction between a- and p-consciousness, I'm reading Ned Block's http://www.bbsonline.org/documents/a/00/00/04/31/bbs00000431-00/bbs.block.html I'm not nearly finished, but I wonder why he doesn't use something like the knee-jerk reflex to illustrate the difference between a- and p-consciousness. How is a-consciousness different from simple reflexes? Is the only difference that a-consciousness involves the brain? Or is the difference that p-consciousness (sometimes) has access to the functions of a-consciousness, while p-consciousness doesn't (ever) have access to the functions of reflexes?

    Is there another article I should be reading?
    Edit: Yeah, I'm not following this paper at all. :confused: I'll look for another but would appreciate suggestions.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2017
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  3. Dec 23, 2004 #2


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    I wouldn't worry myself if I were you. So long as we have no widely accepted theory of cognitive and perceptual functions, the various taxonomies presented here or elsewhere are bound to suffer from inconsistencies and will be subject to much eventual revision. An analogy would be the taxonomy of biology. Linnaeus' morphological taxonomy (again, the intuitive approach) turned out to be largely incorrect and misleading once we developed the techniques of molecular systematics by which we can reliably gauge the relations of biological organisms.

    Linnaeus can hardly be blamed, because during his time, there existed no theory of molecular genetics. By the same token, we can hardly blame any cognitive scientist of philosopher today who inadvertently misgroups aspects of mental life.
  4. Dec 24, 2004 #3


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    The problems I've been having with the papers I've been reading center around a lack of comprehensiveness and precision in the foundation of the arguments. Everyone's supposedly trying to clarify the issue, but they do so by adding on a new set of terms which just pile on a new layer of confusion. For me, anyway. Perhaps I was expecting too much from them.
    http://humanities.ucsc.edu/NEH/smith1.htm [Broken] paper has been helpful so far. There seems to be something loopy going on in the other discussions about consciousness, but I haven't been able to put my finger on it yet.
    I still like the idea of starting with reflexes and working up to wherever. But I'll finish reading...
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
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