: Several theories of consciousness (ToC) have been proposed, but it is hard to integrate them into a consensus theory. Each theory has its merits, in dealing with some aspects of the question, but the terminology is inconsistent, each ToC aims at answering a different question, and there is not even a reasonable agreement about what 'consciousness' is in the first place. Some common implicit assumptions, and the way some critical words - such as 'sensation', 'perception', 'neural correlate of consciousness' (NCC) - are thought to relate to consciousness, have introduced a series of misconceptions that make it difficult to pinpoint what consciousness consists in and how it arises in the brain. The purpose of this contribution is twofold: firstly, to discern the various steps that lead from the detection of a stimulus to a conscious experience, by redefining terms such as sensation and perception with an adequate operative meaning; secondly, to emphasize the inevitable contribution of emotions and the active role of imagination in this process. The diffuse view, for the layperson but among scientists as well, is that the brain produces an internal 'representation' of the external reality and of oneself. This tends to consign one to a Cartesian perspective, i.e., the idea that some entity must be there to witness and interpret such representation. This approach splits the conscious experience into brain activity, which generates a (possible) content of consciousness (still unconscious), and a vaguely defined entity or process that 'generates' consciousness and injects (or sheds the light of) consciousness onto the content of brain activity. This way, however, we learn nothing about how such consciousness would arise. We propose here that consciousness is the function that generates a subjectively relevant and emotionally coloured internal image of the experience one is living. In this process, endogenous, spontaneous activity (imaginative activity, consisting in recalling and reviving memories, prefiguring consequences, analysing conjectures) produces many vague and ambiguous hints, rich of symbolic links, which compete in giving rise to an implicit, emotionally characterized, and semantically pleiotropic, internal experience. Cognitive elaboration may extract from this a defined and univocal, complete and consistent, explicit experience, that can be verbally reported ('what it is like to...').

Imagination: The dawn of consciousness: Fighting some misconceptions in the discussion about consciousness

Fesce, Riccardo
2023-01-01

Abstract

: Several theories of consciousness (ToC) have been proposed, but it is hard to integrate them into a consensus theory. Each theory has its merits, in dealing with some aspects of the question, but the terminology is inconsistent, each ToC aims at answering a different question, and there is not even a reasonable agreement about what 'consciousness' is in the first place. Some common implicit assumptions, and the way some critical words - such as 'sensation', 'perception', 'neural correlate of consciousness' (NCC) - are thought to relate to consciousness, have introduced a series of misconceptions that make it difficult to pinpoint what consciousness consists in and how it arises in the brain. The purpose of this contribution is twofold: firstly, to discern the various steps that lead from the detection of a stimulus to a conscious experience, by redefining terms such as sensation and perception with an adequate operative meaning; secondly, to emphasize the inevitable contribution of emotions and the active role of imagination in this process. The diffuse view, for the layperson but among scientists as well, is that the brain produces an internal 'representation' of the external reality and of oneself. This tends to consign one to a Cartesian perspective, i.e., the idea that some entity must be there to witness and interpret such representation. This approach splits the conscious experience into brain activity, which generates a (possible) content of consciousness (still unconscious), and a vaguely defined entity or process that 'generates' consciousness and injects (or sheds the light of) consciousness onto the content of brain activity. This way, however, we learn nothing about how such consciousness would arise. We propose here that consciousness is the function that generates a subjectively relevant and emotionally coloured internal image of the experience one is living. In this process, endogenous, spontaneous activity (imaginative activity, consisting in recalling and reviving memories, prefiguring consequences, analysing conjectures) produces many vague and ambiguous hints, rich of symbolic links, which compete in giving rise to an implicit, emotionally characterized, and semantically pleiotropic, internal experience. Cognitive elaboration may extract from this a defined and univocal, complete and consistent, explicit experience, that can be verbally reported ('what it is like to...').
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11699/77063
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