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The Brain's Representational PowerOn Consciousness and the Integration of Modalities$
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Cyriel M.A. Pennartz

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780262029315

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262029315.001.0001

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Philosophical and Future Perspectives

Philosophical and Future Perspectives

(p.285) 11 Philosophical and Future Perspectives
The Brain's Representational Power

Cyriel M. A. Pennartz

The MIT Press

Here we review the philosophical implications of the theory presented in previous chapters, and its consequences for future research. This leads us to demarcate the current theory from classical positions such as dualism, materialism, and functionalism. We discuss dualist arguments such as the case of philosophical 'zombies'. However, while these seem conceivable, they are argued not to be realizable: the construction of neural machinery appropriate for zombies would inevitably give rise to consciousness. Following a discussion of Jackson’s argument on “Mary the Color Scientist”, the reality of phenomenal experience is acknowledged as much as the reality of neural levels of processing, placing the theory away from eliminative materialism and classic functionalism. This characterizes the theory as a non-reductive, multilevel, neurobiological form of representationalism ('neurorepresentationalism'). Although representationalists have not been typically concerned with the problem of how neural aggregates give rise to consciousness, the “externalist” stream in this school is much more distant from the current view than the “narrow” stream emphasizing that representations are generated in and by the brain. Finally, we discuss consciousness in animals and in human-made inventions such as computers and robots, and on future treatment of disorders of consciousness.

Keywords:   Animal consciousness, Dualism, Epistemology, Externalism, Functionalism, Materialism, Monism, Representationalism, Robot, Vegetative state

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