Is consciousness integrated?

Velmans, Max. 1992. Is consciousness integrated? Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 15(2), pp. 229-230. ISSN 0140-525X [Article]

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This is a commentary on a BBS target article by Dennett and Kinsbourne on "Time and the observer". In the visual system, the represented features of individual objects (shape, colour, movement, and so on) are distributed both in space and time within the brain. Representations of inner and outer event sequences arrive through different sense organs at different times, and are likewise distributed. Objects are nevertheless perceived as integrated wholes - and event sequences are experienced to form a coherent "consciousness stream." In their thoughtful article, Dennett & Kinsbourne ask how this is achieved. According to Dennett & Kinsbourne, models of how this is achieved subscribe to a form of "Cartesian Theatre" in that they assume human information processing relating to any given event to present a final, integrated representation (of that event) to the "footlights" of consciousness. In Dennett & Kinsbourne's "Multiple Drafts" model, there is no integrated, "definitive stream of consciousness" in which information about the world all comes together; there is only a "parallel stream of conflicting and continuously revised contents." Conscious states only seem to be integrated due to rapid forgetting of the multiple drafts at the time of report. In this commentary I critique their argument on the grounds (a) that they misrepresent conventional integrationist accounts and (b) that their multiple drafts model is less parsimonious, unfalsifiable, and committed to a Stalinesque doctoring of the evidence.

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24 Apr 2019 14:28

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24 Apr 2019 14:28

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