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Phenomenal Consciousness and the Allocentric-Egocentric Interface
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Phenomenal Consciousness and the Allocentric-Egocentric Interface



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  • 1. Phenomenal Consciousness and the Allocentric-Egocentric Interface Pete Mandik Associate Professor Coordinator, Cognitive Science Laboratory Chairman, Department of Philosophy William Paterson University, New Jersey USA
  • 2. Three Problems of Consciousness
    • What is state consciousness?
      • (What makes a mental state conscious and not unconscious?)
    • What is transitive consciousness?
      • (What are we conscious of ?)
    • What is phenomenal character?
      • (What are qualia? What is “what it is like” ?)
  • 3. The Allocentric-Egocentric Interface Theory of Consciousness
    • Consciousness consists in the interface between allocentric and egocentric coding schemes for perceptible features
    • Conscious states are hybrids of allocentric and egocentric representations and phenomenal character is determined by their contents
  • 4. What is the egocentric allocentric distinction? ALLOCENTRIC EGOCENTRIC Self-specifying contents Non-self-specifying contents Online (sensorimotor) Offline (memory and planning) Analog, isomorphism Conceptual, categorical Info. encapsulation Inferential promiscuity
  • 5. Levels of visual processing
  • 6. What is the progression of levels?
    • Egocentric-to-Allocentric transformations
    Low-level (LGN and V1) Egocentric reps Intermediate-level (IT and PP) Egocentric/Allocentric Hybrid reps Highlevel (Frontal Cortex and Hippocampus) Allocentric reps
  • 7. So, where is consciousness?
    • Not at either end of the Egocentric-Allocentric continuum
  • 8.
    • Pure Allocentric
    Pure Egocentric Retinocentric Body-centered Limited viewpoint invariance Amodal Category knowledge The Allocentric-Egocentric Interface The reciprocally influencing representations jointly comprise a conscious state
  • 9. Consciousness is not purely egocentric
    • Patient DF’s visual form agnosia (Milner and Goodale 1995)
    • Bilateral ventral stream damage to area LO
  • 10. Consciousness is not purely egocentric
    • Patient DF’s visual form agnosia
    • Perceptual consciousness of form and orientation destroyed, but sensorimotor skill intact
  • 11. Consciousness is not purely egocentric
    • Visual consciousness is conceptually informed
    • Theory ladeness of perception
    • Dog
    • Dog sniffing ground
    • Dog’s butt facing you
    • Did I mention the dog?
    What is this a picture of? Hints:
  • 12. Consciousness is not purely allocentric Thoughts alone have no phenomenal character: “ Pi is an irrational number” “ Natural selection depends on the variable inheritance of fitness” “ Democracy and capitalism are incompatible” Apparent phenomenality of thought due to associated imagery (Jackendoff 1987)
  • 13. Consciousness is not purely allocentric
    • . . .this . . . this, . . . or this . . .
    . . .but not this. THREE HOUSES Visual consciousness is never viewpoint independent. The contents are like. . .
  • 14. The need for recurrence:
      • TMS: feedback from area MT+/V5 to V1 necessary for visual awareness (P ascual-Leone & Walsh 2001)
      • Backward masking invokes feedforward activation but suppresses recurrence (Lamme 2004)
      • Feedforward activation recorded in anesthetized animals (Lamme 2004)
  • 15. State Consciousness
    • Conscious states are composed of mutually influencing egocentric and allocentric representations
    • Contra Higher Order Representational theories, metarepresentational states are unnecessary
    • Contra First Order Representational theories, involvement of higher- level (though not higher order) states is necessary
  • 16. Transitive Consciousness
    • What we are conscious of are the contents of the allocentric-egocentric hybrid reps
    • Contra HO theories, contents need not include other mental states (Transitivity is false)
    • Contra FO theories, contents need not exclude other mental states (Transparency is false)
  • 17. Phenomenal Character
    • What it is like to be in a conscious state is fully determined by the representational content of that state.
  • 18.
    • THE END