Sessions and Events > Program Schedule > Symposium

Symposium 4

 

Sunday June 22, 4:30PM-6:30PM at Alexander Hall

Consciousness and Accessibility

 

Chair: Ned Block
Department of Philosophy
New York University
USA
Email: ned.block@nyu.edu
Website: http://www.nyu.edu/gsas/dept/philo/faculty/block/

 

 

Attention and Consciousness: Two Independent Processes
Christof Koch
California Institute of Technology
USA
Email:
koch@klab.caltech.edu
Website: http://www.klab.caltech.edu/~koch/
I shall discuss recent psychophysical and functional imaging evidence for the independence of selective attention and consciousness. In particular, a subject can attend to an object or event without being conscious of it or of any of its attributes. Furthermore, a subject can also be conscious of an object or event without directing top-down attention to it. Finally, I shall argue that Block's hypothesized "phenomenal consciousness without cognitive access" correspond to the latter case. Its neuronal correlate may be a coalition of neurons that are consigned to the back of cortex, without access to working memory and planning in frontal cortex.
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How Neuroscience Should Attack the Hard Problem
Victor A. F. Lamme
Department of Psychology
University of Amsterdam
THE NETHERLANDS
Email: V.A.F.Lamme@uva.nl

Behavior is considered the gold standard of consciousness: when someone says he is conscious, he is, and when he says not, he isnˇ¦t. However, this makes it impossible to find the neural mechanism of conscious experience per se. We will always conflate consciousness with cognition. Therefore, arguments from neuroscience should be allowed to shape a definition of consciousness, together with, yet in some cases overruling behavioral evidence. I will show how such a neuro-behavioral definition of consciousness makes it possible to dissociate consciousness from cognition, explains the key features of conscious experience, and opens up a path towards solving the hard problem.
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Unattended and Unaccessible Consciousness: Puzzle or Illusion?


Sid Kouider
Ecole Normale Superieure
FRANCE
Email: sid.kouider@ens.fr
Website: http://www.ehess.fr/centres/lscp/persons/sidk/

Dissociative approaches to consciousness (phenomenal vs access consciousness; consciousness with vs. without attention) capture much of our intuition about subjective experience. However, such dissociations raise a major methodological puzzle: they are difficult, if not impossible, to demonstrate experimentally. In addition, the empirical evidence "pointing towards" these dissociations does not unequivocally support them. I will provide an overview of several alternative theories, including workspace models and compare them with dissociative approaches. In particular, I will focus on alternative accounts positing that the intuition of a rich phenomenal experience is actually a mere retrospective illusion. I will argue that although dissociative approaches offer a promising way to tackle the hard problem, parsimonious (i.e., non-dissociative) interpretations relying on partial awareness and accessible levels of representation still have as much explanatory power.
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Evidence That Phenomenal Consciousness Has a Distinct Neural Basis from Cognitive Access


Ned Block
Department of Philosophy
New York University
USA
Email: ned.block@nyu.edu
Website: http://www.nyu.edu/gsas/dept/philo/faculty/block/
Evidence will be described that phenomenal consciousness and cognitive access have distinct neural bases. Lammeˇ¦s appeal to simplicity and Kouiderˇ¦s appeal to partial awareness do not challenge this interpretation. The relation to issues of attention will be examined.
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