AdvisorChalmers, David J.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractI am currently enjoying a number of experiences: I can hear the sound of a dog barking in the distance, I can feel the pressure of my feet on the floor, and I can smell freshly brewed coffee. These experiences don't simply occur at the same time, they also seem to be unified in a certain way. More generally, it is often said that consciousness is necessarily unified. This claim raises three questions: (1) What exactly does it mean? (2) Is it true? (3) What implications does it have? Chapters one and two are concerned with the first question: what does it mean to say that consciousness is unified? I develop a conception of the unity of consciousness that is both substantive and plausible. I call this conception the "unity thesis". Roughly, the unity thesis says that any pair of experiences that a single subject of experience has at the same time must be contained within a single fully unified phenomenal field: they must have a conjoint phenomenology. Chapters three and four are concerned with the second question: Is consciousness necessarily unified? In chapter three I tentatively endorse an inconceivability-based argument for thinking that they are not. Of course, a priori arguments against the possibility of disunified subjects must be weighed against empirical considerations. In chapter four I examine the evidence for thinking that some people actually are disunified subjects, focusing mostly on the split-brain syndrome. I argue that empirical arguments against the unity thesis are inconclusive. Chapters five and six are concerned with the third question: what implications does the unity of consciousness have? In chapter five I argue that the unity thesis places constraints on our account of state consciousness: if the unity thesis is true, then certain influential accounts of consciousness are false. In chapter six I argue that the unity thesis also constrains our account of the self: if the unity thesis is true, then we need to think of the self in phenomenal terms.
Degree ProgramGraduate College