The Brain and its States

[cross-posted at Philosophy Sucks!]

Some time ago I was invited to contribute a paper to a forthcoming volume entitled Being in Time: Dynamical Models of Phenomenal Experience. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I was invited because of my paper “What is a Brain State?” Looking back at that paper, which I was writing in 2004-2005, I was interested in questions about the Identity Theory and not so much about consciousness per se and I wished I had said something relating the thesis there to various notions of consciousness. So I was happy to take this opportunity to put together a general statement of my current views on this stuff as well as a chance to develop some of my recent views about higher-order theories. Overall I think it is a fairly decent statement of my considered opinion on the home of consciousness in the brain. Any comments or feedback is greatly appreciated!


  1. Joshua Stern

    If it is empirically possible to build something like Commander Data then the type-type identity theory is not true. In that case a kind of functionalism would be true about the mind.

    Let’s not go false choice here, if type-type theory doesn’t quite work, classic functionalism hasn’t exactly thrilled the audience over the last generation, either.

    Token-token theories might fit in-between, and my interest has for some time been more along those lines, but more to the point we should build a theory that does the right work and taxonomize it afterwards.

  2. Joshua Stern

    At a quick browse – I’d say this does the right work and in a way I’m very sympathetic to, in physically realized ways. There are still issues of matching the conceptual framework of biology, with the conceptual framework used in philosophy of mind, I think such an effort promises benefits to both sides. Is your theory in violation of OP’s type-type issues, is your theory a classic token-token theory?

    The paper itself is of course quite involved, and I’d need more time to determine what issues, pro or con, I can draw further from it. Thanks.

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