Andrius Kulikauskas

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Submitted for the III International Conference on Philosophy of Mind: Minds, Brains and Consciousness on October 11-12 in Braha, Portugal. (See the program for the II International Conference.)

Consciousness as the Social Awareness Schema of a Disembodying Mind

We describe consciousness as a natural consequence of a mind trying to disembody itself. A disembodying mind can be imagined by inverting the abundant evidence for the significance of the embodied mind. We extend Graziano's description of awareness as an attention schema to define consciousness as a social awareness schema.

Lakoff has noted that in cognitive metaphors such as "caring is warmth", the target domain ("warmth") is always more directly relevant to the body (the body is always measuring warmth). We can invert this to realize that the mind's concern, the source domain ("caring") is always less directly relevant to the body. Similarly, we can think of the evolution of the nervous system as a process of ever increasing abstraction.

Graziano has noted how attention focuses a brain's resources, and has described awareness as a model of attention which can be attributed to oneself or to others as well. A model of the world is thus enhanced or even replaced by a model of subjects and objects of attention. We propose that consciousness arises in an additional level of abstraction in terms of conceptual frameworks which model how the mind's global workspace is divided up amongst possible perspectives. For example, our minds may have one perspective available by which we consider possibilities (whereby opposites coexist, as when we ponder a question, or we imagine "free will"), and another perspective available by which we fix an actuality (whereby all is the same, as when we affirm an answer, or we imagine "fate"). Whenever we contemplate the issue of existence, we divide our global workspace into two perspectives, for questioning ("Does this chair exist or not?") and answering ("If it does, then it does, and if not, then not.")

We thus propose that we experience life through conceptual frameworks by which we choose the strategy by which to direct our awareness. Our unconscious mind may offer us a script to execute an action, and yet our conscious mind may decide whether to reject that action or allow it to proceed. The evidence for such divisions of the global workspace comes from classic philosophical debates (such as "free will" vs. "fate") which may relate the awareness of different parties but also reflect the ways in which a single mind may be aware. We document a closed system of eight such conceptual frameworks which variously divide the global workspace. We suppose that our minds may operate on a map of such a system, just as we have body maps. We describe consciousness as a shift that moves us from a conceptual framework to one that has three additional perspectives to model our attention, awareness and consciousness. Our consciousness is that by which we are able to turn our awareness off or on, so that we choose whether to step-out or step-in, accordingly.


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