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Lecture 13

PSYA01H3 Lecture 13: PSYA01 - Lecture 13

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PSYA01 - Lec 5.1 Consciousness: Core Issues
October 26, 2015
What IS Consciousness?
Consciousness can refer to:
1. The state of being awake and alert … patients in a coma are NOT conscious
2. )n a more general sense, being aware of something … so one could be
conscious of the threat of global warming … or conscious of food in front of
you (Subliminal perception you are seeing these things unconsciously)
3. )n a more specific sense, the state of being aware of oneself, or at least one’s
own thoughts … to be self-conscious of self-aware
4. When used as an adjective conscious thoughts or processes are typical
linked to goals and the notion of behavioural control
Some only think we should use the words unconscious and conscious as
an adjective
- The first problem of studying consciousness is that it is very complex, we use
the word in different ways and different contexts making it hard to study
- Clearly it is a complex concept, and often the first step to understanding a
claim about consciousness is to figure out which consciousness is being
referred to
The Nature of Consciousness
- Consciousness as a noun: there are things in the world and things we
perceive we want to act on them
- What we take in is based on attention Selective attention
Intentionality … consciousness is directed toward something always?
- We may command attention & consciousness may be directed (like there
is some purpose)
Unity … consciousness is very hard to divide … conscious of one thing at a time
- It can only be focused on one thing you can only be conscious at one
thing at a time
Selectivity … only certain aspects of stimuli are brought into consciousness
- You can bring internal or external consciousness
Transience … it is difficult to keep consciousness from moving
- We can control & force our minds to focus on certain things, and if we are
not doing that then our conscious minds tend to drift therefore it seems
like our body and external world are also in control
- A lot of the rational for consciousness is to think about something deeper
that we want to act on. Consciousness is goal based and is goal oriented
The Challenges of Consciousness
- Subjective phenomenology, or what philosophers call qualia … relevant or
o Example of qualia:
There is a butcher you see on a regular basis, one day you’re
going to beach and on back of city bus he’s with his family and
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