Vol. 13, No. 4, April 2006

Symposium: What Consciousness Means

Anthony Freeman
Editorial Preface
Christian de Quincey   abstract
Switched-on Consciousness: Clarifying What it Means
Michael Beaton et al.
Peer Commentary on de Quincey
Anthony Freeman
Mirror, Mirror: Editorial Reflection

Refereed Papers

Shannon Vallor   abstract
An Enactive-Phenomenological Approach to Veridical Perception
Sophie R. Allen   abstract
A Space Oddity: Colin McGinn on Consciousness and Space

Continuing Debate

Charles T. Tart
Current Status of Transpersonal Psychology
William A. Adams
Transpersonal Heterophenomenology?

Conference Report  full text

Bill Faw
'Are We Studying Consciousness Yet?' Tucson 2006

Book Reviews  full text

John McCrone
Robert Kirk, Zombies and Consciousness
Michael Beaton
Tamar Szabó Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds), Perceptual Experience
Athar Yawar
Lynne Sharpe, Creatures Like Us?


Christian de Quincey

Switched-on Consciousness: Clarifying What It Means

Abstract: ‘Consciousness’ has been called the ‘final frontier’ for science, philosophy’s ‘hard problem’, and the greatest mystery in mysticism. It is a central focus in philosophy of mind. Yet confusion abounds about what ‘consciousness’ means — even among philosophers, scientists, and mystics who have built careers exploring the mind. Different scholars and different disciplines use the same word to mean very different things. Debates and dialogues on consciousness often run aground because scholars conflate two radically different uses of the term. This paper addresses the problem by elucidating a fundamental distinction between the philosophical and psychological uses of ‘consciousness’.


Sophie R. Allen

A Space Oddity: Colin McGinn on Consciousness and Space

Abstract: Colin McGinn widens the conceptual gap between consciousness and the natural world on the basis of the Cartesian intuition that physical properties are essentially spatial, while the mind is inherently not. I consider two difficulties with this position. First, I argue that his conclusion that consciousness is temporal but not spatial is not generally true, but is only coherent under certain conceptions of the nature of time. So McGinn has not framed a significant, general problem for the explanation of consciousness, but one which can arise only in conjunction with other, rather contentious metaphysical claims, although it is not entailed by them. Second, I argue that he fails to defuse a fruitful analogy between the spatial properties of conscious phenomena and those of unobservable physical properties which are located on the basis of causal considerations similar to those which McGinn rules out in the case of conscious phenomena. I conclude that the implications of the Cartesian intuition for the explanation of consciousness are more restricted and less serious than McGinn claims.

Correspondence: Sophie R Allen, Magdalen College, Oxford OX1 4AU and Saint Peter’s College, Oxford OX1 2DL, U.K. Email:

Shannon Vallor

An Enactive-Phenomenological Approach to Veridical Perception

Abstract: Most accounts of veridical perception draw upon conventional causal theories of perception for an explanatory framework. Recently developed enactive or sensorimotor theories of perception pose a challenge to such accounts, necessitating a redefinition of veridical perception. I propose and defend one such definition, drawing upon empirical studies of perception, the resources of the enactive approach and phenomenology. I argue that perceptual experience engages an organism in a network of sensorimotor dependencies with the perceived object, and that veridical perceptions involve experiential mastery of these dependencies. A thought example involving the phoneme restoration effect is used to compare this definition favourably with traditional accounts of veridical perception that involve the generation of matching content with appropriate causal history or patterns of counterfactual dependence. I also defend my account of veridical perception against several objections.

Correspondence: Shannon Vallor, PhD, Department of Philosophy, Santa Clara University, 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA  95053, USA.

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