Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Tadeusz Wieslaw Zawidzki (2012). Trans-Human Cognitive Enhancement, Phenomenal Consciousness and the Extended Mind. International Journal of Machine Consciousness 4 (01):215-.
Drawing on Charles Stross's recent trans-humanist, science fiction novel, Accelerando, I argue that phenomenology can play an important supplementary role in arguments for the hypothesis of extended cognition — the view that the mind might sometimes extend beyond the skull. In their initial arguments for this hypothesis Clark and Chalmers [Clark, A. and Chalmers, D. [1998] "The extended mind," Analysis 58(1), 7–19], deliberately downplay the role of phenomenology, emphasizing third person, functionalist reasons for it. However, passages from Stross's novel suggest that feasible, extra-cranial cognitive technology will have dramatic effects on phenomenology. Such "trans-human" phenomenology will likely eliminate intuitive resistance to the hypothesis of extended cognition, thereby supporting functionalist arguments for it. Although this is not sufficient to establish that consciousness itself might extend beyond the skull, I also argue that any view on which consciousness supervenes on the functional properties of the nervous system, like Chalmers, D. [1996] The Conscious Mind (Oxford University Press, New York) and Baars, B. [1988] A Cognitive Theory of Consciousness (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK); Baars, B. [1997]In the Theatre of Consciousness (Oxford University Press, New York); Baars, B. [2002] The conscious access hypothesis: Origins and recent evidence, Trends in Cognitive Science 6, 47–52; Baars, B. [2003] How brain reveals mind: Neuroimaging supports the central role of conscious experience, Journal of Consciousness Studies 10, 100–114, must accept this possibility.


  1. Hey, Pete. Just found the site and am loving all the mind! I still haven't gotten around to Accelerando, so I'll save your paper till then. In the meantime, as a science fiction writer who dabbles in philosophy of mind, I thought you might appreciate an inverted perspective on the confluence of the two:


    What if phenomenology and consciousness were quite different things?

  2. Damn, the internet can be so cool sometimes. It's a real pleasure to make your electronic acquaintance. I'll be following your blog with much interest.

    I'm inclined to agree that phenomenology and consciousness are different, but maybe you and I have different things in mind by such a proposition? For me, I'd say phenomenology just is (or is the cataloging of) appearances, and there can be unconscious as well as conscious appearances.

  3. Now that last gives me a Husserlian headache (which doubles as a Freudian buzz, I'm told).

    Language is our enemy here, since it seems to parse things that likely can only be understood as wholes. More and more I've been thinking about consciousness in camera obscura terms, as an informatic inversion of what is actually going on. We're compelled to speak 'of' when in point of fact we speak from. And this is partially the key: phenomenology as post-parsed consciousness. Consciousness as it appears to consciousness, as opposed to consciousness proper.

    This is why I think the Hard Problem is so hard: we really need TWO theories, one that explains away the myriad distortions as artifacts of what happens when cognitive systems originally evolved to manage environmental information are forced to make sense of spotty interoceptive information crudely hacked from the most sophisticated piece of biomachinery we know of...



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