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Consciousness as a social construction

  • Martin Kurthen (a1), Thomas Grunwald (a1) and Christian E. Elger (a1)
    • Published online: 01 February 1999

If the explanatory gap between phenomenal consciousness (“p-consciousness”) and the brain cannot be closed by current naturalistic theories of mind, one might instead try to dissolve the explanatory gap problem. We hold that such a dissolution can start from the notion of consciousness as a social construction. In his target article, however, Block (1995) argues that the thesis that consciousness is a social construction is trivially false if it is construed to be about phenomenal consciousness. He ridicules the idea that the occurrence of p-consciousness requires that the subject of p-consciousness already have the concept of p-consciousness. This idea is not as ridiculous as Block supposes. To see this, one must accept that in a unique sense, p-consciousness is what we as the subjects of consciousness take it to be. Furthermore, the notion of consciousness as a social construction does not depend on the view that the concept of consciousness somehow precedes the occurrence of consciousness as such. In sum, consciousness can plausibly be seen as a social construction, and this view can promote a dissolution of the explanatory gap problem.

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Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • ISSN: 0140-525X
  • EISSN: 1469-1825
  • URL: /core/journals/behavioral-and-brain-sciences
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