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The Visual (Un)Conscious and Its (Dis)ContentsA microtemporal approach$
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Bruno G. Breitmeyer

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198712237

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198712237.001.0001

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Conceptual and methodological issues

Conceptual and methodological issues

(p.15) Chapter 2 Conceptual and methodological issues
The Visual (Un)Conscious and Its (Dis)Contents

Bruno G. Breitmeyer

Oxford University Press

The discussion covers problems regarding consciousness as a trait. These revolve around the qualitative aspects of consciousness, specifically the ontological status of qualia. Qualia arethe subjective aspects of conscious experience, the primary qualities of visual perception such as color. The function that consciousness serves is often questioned. There are some philosophic approaches that give priority to consciousness as state, and other approaches that give priority to consciousness as trait. To these problematic issues are added the problem of determining how neural activities are linked to conscious experience, that is, of what constitutes the neural correlates or causes of consciousness. Stimulus-dependent, unconscious processing, and percept-dependent, conscious processing correlate with the initial feedforward neural sweep, and the activation of subsequent feedforward–reentrant processing loops playing out in the ventral cortical pathway. It raises a further issue regarding whether or not visual consciousness is globally unitary or a composite of several “microconsciousnesses.”

Keywords:   qualia, primary visual perception, functional role of consciousness, neural causes/correlates, feedforward/reentrant processing, stimulus-/percept-dependent processing, microconsciousness, contents of consciousness, levels of consciousness

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