Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Theories of Experiential Awareness
by Potts, David L., Ph.D., University of Illinois at Chicago, 2011, 430; 3472406
Abstract (Summary)

Theories of experiential awareness—as opposed to the sort of awareness we have in thought— are examined with respect to two key questions. First, what sort of connection obtains in an experience between the subject and what is experienced? It might be a direct relation of the same sort as A being to the left of B, which cannot exist if A and B do not. Or the connection might be indirect in that we have to infer the existence of what we experience from some other, intermediary object. Still a third possibility is that the connection consists in directly representing what is experienced, the way a sentence represents what it says. This third option combines features of the first two: what is thus represented need not obtain, but neither is it inferred.

Second, what sort of information does the subject of an experience receive concerning the object? According to some theories, the information received is both self-interpreting and total. Alternatively, we might receive information that falls short of this ideal. In that case, we might still acquire a criterion by which to re-identify what we experience, or we might not acquire even that.

These two questions are logically independent, so that the leading answers to both can be crossed to produce a Matrix of possible theories of experiential awareness. The dissertation defines this Matrix in detail and populates its cells with the theories of eleven philosophers: John Campbell, David Chalmers, Fred Dretske, Mark Johnston, Saul Kripke, John McDowell, Christopher Peacocke, Bertrand Russell, John Searle, A. D. Smith, and Michael Tye. The Matrix provides a useful analytical framework for comparing competing theories. With this framework in hand, the latter part of the dissertation attempts to assess the relative strengths of competing answers to the second question. Rather than any one answer prevailing across the board, it seems likely that different answers are true with respect to different sorts of things we experience. A suggestion as to how they might fit together is briefly offered in the conclusion.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hilbert, David R.
School: University of Illinois at Chicago
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 72/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Philosophy
Keywords: Campbell, John, Dretske, Fred, Experiential awareness, Externalistic intentionalism, Johnston, Mark, Kripke, Saul, McDowell, John, Peacocke, Christopher, Russell, Bertrand, Searle, John, Smith, A.D., Tye, Michael
Publication Number: 3472406
ISBN: 978-1-124-86432-7
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