Consciousness and Cosmos Building an Ontological Framework

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2018-03-01

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Imprint Academic

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Contemporary theories of consciousness are based on widely different concepts of its nature, most or all of which probably embody aspects of the truth about it. Starting with a concept of consciousness indicated by the phrase 'the feeling of what happens' (the title of a book by Antonio Damasio), we attempt to build a framework capable of supporting and resolving divergent views. We picture consciousness in terms of reality experiencing itself from the perspective of cognitive agents. Each conscious experience is regarded as composed of momentary feeling events that are combined by recognition and evaluation into extended conscious episodes that bind cognitive contents with a wide range of apparent durations (0.1 secs to 2 or more secs, for us humans, depending on circumstances and context). Three necessary conditions for the existence of consciousness are identified: a) a ground of reality, envisaged as a universal field of potentiality encompassing all possible manifestations, whether material or 'mental'; b) a transitional zone, leading to; c) a manifest world with its fundamental divisions into material, 'informational', and quale-endowed aspects. We explore ideas about the nature of these necessary conditions, how they may relate to one another and whether our suggestions have empirical implications.

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Journal Of Consciousness Studies. Exeter: Imprint Academic, v. 25, n. 3-4, p. 181-205, 2018.

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