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December 2021

Phenomenal experience: A fundamental problem for psychology and the neurosciences

Author(s): Durstewitz, D.

Journal/Book: Psychol Rundsch. 2000; 51: Rohnsweg 25, D-37085 Gottingen, Germany. Hogrefe & Huber Publishers. 75-82.

Abstract: In the present article, we try to show in which specific sense consciousness represents a problem for which psychology and the neurosciences have no theoretical explanation and no methodological approach. In experimental studies, consciousness is often defined as a state or process coupled to focal attention that allows for self-referential, metacognitive processing and other higher-level cognitive operations. This concept reduces consciousness to relatively ''simple'' problems that can principally be addressed by conventional approaches within the natural sciences. However, it does not bear on a central and more difficult aspect of the problem: The emergence and function of phenomenal experience, that is: of ''qualia.'' We demonstrate that this problem seems presently insoluble and argue that it points to a fundamental gap of knowledge in psychology and the natural sciences that must be taken seriously.

Note: Article Windmann S, Univ Calif San Diego, Dept Cognit Sci, 9500 Gilman Dr, La Jolla,CA 92093 USA

Keyword(s): consciousness; qualia; phenomenal experience; theory; CONSCIOUSNESS; ATTENTION; BEHAVIOR; MEMORY; CORTEX

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