Jaspers' Dilemma: The Psychopathological Challenge to Subjectivity Theories of Consciousness [chapter]

Alexandre Billon, Uriah Kriegel
2015 Disturbed Consciousness  
According to what we will call subjectivity theories of consciousness, there is a constitutive connection between phenomenal consciousness and subjectivity: there is something it is like for a subject to have mental state M only if M is characterized by a certain mine-ness or for-me-ness. Such theories appear to face certain psychopathological counterexamples: patients appear to report conscious experiences that lack this subjective element. A subsidiary goal of this chapter is to articulate
more » ... h greater precision both subjectivity theories and the psychopathological challenge they face. The chapter's central goal is to present two new approaches to defending subjectivity theories in the face of this challenge. What distinguishes these two approaches is that they go to great lengths to interpret patients' reports at face value -greater length, at any rate, than more widespread approaches in the extant literature. Consciousness and Subjectivity Compare your experiences of drinking apple juice and drinking a banana smoothie. These experiences are very different in many respects: there is a gustatory apple-ish way it is like for you to have the former and a gustatory banana-ish way it is like for you to have the latter; there is a tactile juice-ish way it is like for you to have the former and a tactile smooth-ish way it is like for you to have the latter; and so on. But there is also one respect in which the two experiences are exactly the same: in both cases it is for you that it is like something to have them. By this we mean not only that both experiences are yours, but more strongly that both are experienced as yours. We call this the subjectivity of experience. Your apple-juice and banana-smoothie experiences are different in gustatory and tactile respects, but are the same in respect of subjectivity. It is an open question what the relationship is between subjectivity and phenomenal consciousness. Call the following the subjectivity principle: (SP) Necessarily, a mental state M exhibits phenomenal consciousness only if M exhibits subjectivity. According to SP, there is a necessary, constitutive connection between phenomenal consciousness and subjectivity. Some theories of consciousness in the extant literature are committed to SP, some to ~SP, and some to neither. Call those that are committed to SP subjectivity theories of consciousness. According to subjectivity theories, a phenomenally conscious state that lacks this dimension of for-me-ness or subjectivity is metaphysically impossible. There are three main kinds of subjectivity theory currently being discussed. One is 'higher-order representationalism.' According to Rosenthal (1990) , every conscious state is a state the subject is aware of, and moreover aware of as her own. This awareness is implemented by a higher-order representation of the subject's experience (see also Gennaro 1996 Gennaro , 2012)) . Crucially, proponents of higher-order representationalism typically hold that the phenomenal character of a conscious state is determined by the manner in which it is higher-order represented. 1 To that extent, they appear committed to SP. 2 A second kind of subjectivity theory is self-representationalism. According to Kriegel (2009), conscious states are states the subject is aware of (as hers), not because they are targeted by higher-order representations however, but because they are targeted by themselves (see also Williford 2006). Every conscious state represents itself (and moreover, represents itself as belonging to the subject), and it is in virtue of this selfrepresentation that the subject is aware of it (as hers). The fact that the conscious state is
doi:10.7551/mitpress/9780262029346.003.0002 fatcat:rufdc2hubzgyxd5i3fqwuqluum