By Benj Hellie
Brains readers: sup. Lovely to be here — thanks to Gualtiero for signing me up. I’ll kick off my tenure here with the fifty cent tour of a paper I’m working on as part of work on my book MS, Conscious Life.
Title: ‘Experience as action’.
Thesis: the kinds of experiences are the kinds of actions.
Elaboration: (i) by “experiences” I’m talking about consciousness in general, not just perceptual “experience”; (ii) I mean that every action is an experience and every experience is an action (and “they” are of the same kind); (iii) I’m thinking of “actions” in the ordinary sense as including walks to the grocery store and writings of books; (iv) I think there is a “hard problem of consciousness”, in fact more than one, and my thesis is about consciousness in the sense that generates a hard problem — hence I think action generates a hard problem (because it = consciousness); (v) I’m not Alva, and I’m not saying that seeing is an action: in fact, I don’t think seeing is a kind of experience, though I do think looking is a kind of experience; (vi) the thesis is at the same level of “grain” as representationalism, the doctrine that the kinds of experiences are among the representational kinds: the difference is that I don’t think representation is especially important to consciousness, but instead think agency is all-important.
Argument for the thesis:
(1) K is a kind of action iff some possible K is attentive;
(2) Some possible K is attentive iff every possible K is conscious;
(3) Every possible K is conscious iff K is a kind of experience.
Conclude: K is a kind of action iff K is a kind of experience.
The “adverbial theory of attention”. I don’t think that there is any such thing (properly so-called, anyway) as “attending to a bottle you see”: instead, I think what you are doing is attentively looking at a bottle you see. So when I say that “some possible K is attentive”, what I mean is that in some possible cases, someone Ks attentively.
Have at it.