AuthorBruno, Michael George
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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.
AbstractDo minds ever extend spatially beyond the boundaries of the bodies of their subjects? I argue that they do. More precisely, I argue that some of our visual experiences are constitutively grounded by events that include parts of the world that are not parts of any subject's body. After surveying the development of externalist theories in the philosophy of mind, I present some of the motivations common to ecological, enactive, dynamic sensorimotor and two-level interdependence accounts of perception and explain how some of these accounts support the case for active vehicle externalism about consciousness. I then discuss and respond to three well-known objections. The first concerns whether the extended mind thesis implies that there extended selves, the second concerns what exactly demarcates mental events from non-mental events, and the last concerns what is required to demonstrate constitutive dependence. To address what distinguishes constitutive from nomological or causal forms of dependence, I develop an account of constitutive grounding. My account draws on recent work in analytic metaphysics on the notion of ontological dependence or grounding, where grounding is taken to be a non-causal relation of ontological priority. After showing how this notion is different than any kind of nomological dependence and how it can be constructively used to decipher the spatiotemporal extent of events, I argue positively that the grounds of visual experiences are always temporally extended and often include parts of the world external to the seeing subject's body. My argument for temporally extended vision begins by considering three different models of the temporal structure of consciousness: cinematic, retentional, and extensional. I then draw on the dynamic sensorimotor theory to object to the cinematic model and explore whether enactivists are really committed to retentionalism. I end up arguing that any account one gives of the intentional contents or phenomenal characters of individual conscious visual events will have to make reference to a briefly enduring process and not just an instantaneous event involving the subject. Lastly, I argue as follows: (P1) in the explanation of visual experience, the brain internal parts of the temporally extended events that constitutively ground visual experiences often cannot be decoupled from parts of the non-bodily world; (P2) if event A is a constitutive ground of event E and event B cannot be decoupled from A in the explanation of E, then B is also a constitutive ground of E; therefore, (C) some visual experiences are constitutively grounded by events that include parts of the non-bodily world. I call this conclusion the extended visual consciousness thesis. If my argument for it is sound, our conscious minds do, in some cases, extend beyond our bodies.
Degree ProgramGraduate College