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Balog, Katalin. Conceivability, possibility, and the mind-body problem
1999, Philosophical Review 108 (4):497-528.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt
Abstract: This paper was chosen by The Philosopher's Annual as one of the ten best articles appearing in print in 2000. Reprinted in Volume XXIII of The Philosopher's Annual. In his very influential book David Chalmers argues that if physicalism is true then every positive truth is a priori entailed by the full physical description - this is called 'the a priori entailment thesis - but ascriptions of phenomenal consciousness are not so entailed and he concludes that Physicalism is false. As he puts it, 'zombies' are metaphysically possible. I attempt to show that this argument is refuted by considering an analogous argument in the mouth of a zombie. The conclusion of this argument is false so one of the premises is false. I argue at length that this shows that the original conceivability argument also has a false premise and so is invalid.

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Drayson, Zoe. The Philosophy of Phenomenal Consciousness
2015, In The Constitution of Phenomenal Consciousness. Amsterdam: pp. 273-292.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt
Abstract: A primer on the philosophical issues relating to phenomenal consciousness, part of a collection of new papers by scientists and philosophers on the constitution of consciousness.

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Gertler, Brie. The relationship between phenomenality and intentionality: Comments on Siewert’s The Significance of Consciousness
2001, PSYCHE: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Research On Consciousness 7.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt
Publisher's Note: Charles Siewert offers a persuasive argument to show that the presence of certain phenomenal features logically suffices for the presence of certain intentional ones. He claims that this shows that phenomenal features are inherently intentional. I argue that he has not established the latter thesis, even if we grant the logical sufficiency claim. For he has not ruled out a rival alternative interpretation of the relevant data, namely, that intentional features are inherently phenomenal

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Gow, Laura. The Limitations of Perceptual Transparency
2016, Philosophical Quarterly 66: 723-744
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Added by: Björn Freter

Abstract: My first aim in this paper is to show that the transparency claim cannot serve the purpose to which it is assigned; that is, the idea that perceptual experience is transparent is no help whatsoever in motivating an externalist account of phenomenal character. My second aim is to show that the internalist qualia theorist's response to the transparency idea has been unnecessarily concessive to the externalist. Surprisingly, internalists seem to allow that much of the phenomenal character of perceptual experience depends essentially (and not just causally) upon externally located properties. They argue that we can also be aware of internal, non-intentional qualia. I present an alternative response the internalist can make to the transparency claim: phenomenal character is wholly internal, and seeming to be aware of externally located properties just is being aware of internally constituted experiential features.

Comment: Clarifies the debate on whether perceptual experience is transparent and what significance this has. Points out some mistaken assumptions that both sides of the debate have made. Suggests how internalists should respond to the claim that perceptual experience is transparent. Easy to read if one has prior knowledge of the transparency idea.

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Hurley, Susan. Consciousness in Action
1998, Harvard University Press.
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Added by: Nick Novelli
Publisher's Note: In this important book, Susan Hurley sheds new light on consciousness by examining its relationships to action from various angles. She assesses the role of agency in the unity of a conscious perspective, and argues that perception and action are more deeply interdependent than we usually assume. A standard view conceives perception as input from world to mind and action as output from mind to world, with the serious business of thought in between. Hurley criticizes this picture, and considers how the interdependence of perceptual experience and agency at the personal level (of mental contents and norms) may emerge from the subpersonal level (of underlying causal processes and complex dynamic feedback systems). Her two-level view has wide implications, for topics that include self-consciousness, the modularity of mind, and the relations of mind to world. The self no longer lurks hidden somewhere between perceptual input and behavioral output, but reappears out in the open, embodied and embedded in its environment. Hurley traces these themes from Kantian and Wittgensteinian arguments through to intriguing recent work in neuropsychology and in dynamic systems approaches to the mind, providing a bridge from mainstream philosophy to work in other disciplines. Consciousness in Action is unique in the range of philosophical and scientific work it draws on, and in the deep criticism it offers of centuries-old habits of thought.

Comment: This book provides an interesting challenge to some standard assumptions about consciousness, action, and perception. The chapters are relatively self-contained, and can be read separately. The appendix of argument outlines is helpful as an aid to comprehension, and could serve as a valuable teaching tool in its own right.

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Irvine, Elizabeth. Explaining What?
2014, Topoi 36 (1):95-106.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt
Abstract: The Hard Problem is surrounded by a vast literature, to which it is increasingly hard to contribute to in any meaningful way. Accordingly, the strategy here is not to offer any new metaphysical or 'in principle' arguments in favour of the success of materialism, but to assume a Type Q approach and look to contemporary consciousness science to see how the concept of consciousness fares there, and what kind of explanations we can hope to offer of it. It is suggested that while they will be materialist explanations, they will not be of the form that many scientists and philosophers would have us believe, but instead prompt a very different set of expectations and research projects.

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Jorati, Julia. Gottfried Leibniz: Philosophy of Mind
2014, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Julia Jorati
Abstract: Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716) was a true polymath: he made substantial contributions to a host of different fields such as mathematics, law, physics, theology, and most subfields of philosophy. Within the philosophy of mind, his chief innovations include his rejection of the Cartesian doctrines that all mental states are conscious and that non-human animals lack souls as well as sensation. Leibniz’s belief that non-rational animals have souls and feelings prompted him to reflect much more thoroughly than many of his predecessors on the mental capacities that distinguish human beings from lower animals. Relatedly, the acknowledgment of unconscious mental representations and motivations enabled Leibniz to provide a far more sophisticated account of human psychology. It also led Leibniz to hold that perception—rather than consciousness, as Cartesians assume—is the distinguishing mark of mentality.

Comment: Overview over Leibniz's philosophy of mind; can be used for a survey course on early modern philosophy or for a more specialized course on the history of the philosophy of mind.

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Kind, Amy. Pessimism About Russellian Monism
2015, Torin Alter & Yujin Nagasawa (eds.), Consciousness in the Physical World: Perspectives on Russellian Monism: 401-421
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Greg Miller
Abstract: From the perspective of many philosophers of mind in these early years of the 21st Century, the debate between dualism and physicalism has seemed to have stalled, if not to have come to a complete standstill. There seems to be no way to settle the basic clash of intuitions that underlies it. Recently however, a growing number of proponents of Russellian monism have suggested that their view promises to show us a new way forward. Insofar as Russellian monism might allow us to break out of the current gridlock, it's no wonder that it's become 'hot stuff.' To my mind, however, the excitement about Russellian monism is misplaced. Though some version of Russellian monism might well be true, I do not believe that it enables us to break free of the dualism/physicalism divide. As I will argue, once we properly understand what's required to flesh out an adequate monistic story, we will see that we are in an important way right back where we started.

Comment: This text is a criticism of the view known as Russellian Monism. The text highlights that the physicalism/dualism dichotomy remains even in this 'alternative' view. The text is intermediate because it requires students to understand the complexity of the debate leading up to this paper. The paper itself is very accessible.

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Kind, Amy. Transparency and Representationalist Theories of Consciousness
2010, Philosophy Compass 5 (10):902-913.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Prosser
Abstract: Over the past few decades, as philosophers of mind have begun to rethink the sharp divide that was traditionally drawn between the phenomenal character of an experience (what it's like to have that experience) and its intentional content (what it represents), representationalist theories of consciousness have become increasingly popular. On this view, phenomenal character is reduced to intentional content. This article explores a key motivation for this theory, namely, considerations of experiential transparency. Experience is said to be transparent in that we 'look right through it' to the objects of that experience, and this is supposed to support the representationalist claim that there are no intrinsic aspects of our experience.

Comment: Useful survey on 'transparency' arguments for representationalism/intentionalism

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Kind, Amy. What’s so transparent about transparency?
2003, Philosophical Studies 115 (3):225-244.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Nora Heinzelmann
Abstract: Intuitions about the transparency of experience have recently begun to play a key role in the debate about qualia. Specifically, such intuitions have been used by representationalists to support their view that the phenomenal character of our experience can be wholly explained in terms of its intentional content.[i] But what exactly does it mean to say that experience is transparent? In my view, recent discussions of transparency leave matters considerably murkier than one would like. As I will suggest, there is reason to believe that experience is not transparent in the way that representationalism requires. Although there is a sense in which experience can be said to be transparent, transparency in this sense does not give us any particular motivation for representationalism - or at least, not the pure or strong representationalism that it is usually invoked to support

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León-Portilla, Miguel. Aztec Thought and Culture: A Study of the Ancient Nahuatl Mind
1963, University of Oklahoma Press
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Added by: M. Jimena Clavel Vázquez and Andrés Hernández Villarreal

Publisher's note: For at least two millennia before the advent of the Spaniards in 1519, there was a flourishing civilization in central Mexico. During that long span of time a cultural evolution took place which saw a high development of the arts and literature, the formulation of complex religious doctrines, systems of education, and diverse political and social organization. The rich documentation concerning these people, commonly called Aztecs, includes, in addition to a few codices written before the Conquest, thousands of folios in the Nahuatl or Aztec language written by natives after the Conquest. Adapting the Latin alphabet, which they had been taught by the missionary friars, to their native tongue, they recorded poems, chronicles, and traditions.

The fundamental concepts of ancient Mexico presented and examined in this book have been taken from more than ninety original Aztec documents. They concern the origin of the universe and of life, conjectures on the mystery of God, the possibility of comprehending things beyond the realm of experience, life after death, and the meaning of education, history, and art. The philosophy of the Nahuatl wise men, which probably stemmed from the ancient doctrines and traditions of the Teotihuacans and Toltecs, quite often reveals profound intuition and in some instances is remarkably “modern.”

This English edition is not a direct translation of the original Spanish, but an adaptation and rewriting of the text for the English-speaking reader.

Comment (from this Blueprint): This chapter introduces key concepts in the Nahua conception of human beings. Firstly, it introduces the idea that human beings are created out of necessity by the gods, and the idea that they find themselves in a precarious situation. It also introduces the concepts of heart (yóllotl) and face (ix-tli) as the key concepts to understand human being’s dynamic nature. While the face can be understood as that which makes each person an individual and that which needs to be developed (we can assimilate it to a notion of the self), the heart is taken to be the dynamic center of human being’s psychological life. The chapter also focuses on the destiny of human beings on earth and in the afterlife, as well as to the notion of free will that is at play.

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Levin, Janet. Could love be like a heatwave?: Physicalism and the subjective character of experience
1986, Philosophical Studies 49 (March):245-61.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt
Abstract: We expect there to be a connection between experience and knowledge in many of our ordinary epistemic judgments; this expectation is by no means confined to our knowledge of mental states. Thus, the appeal to a special necessary connection between experience and knowledge of mental states ignores the generality of this phenomenon. More important, however, it takes this phenomenon too seriously: our unreflective expectations about the previous experiences of a person who has knowledge, as I have argued, have little to do with whether these experiences are necessary for knowledge of that sort. Thus, they provide no threat to physicalism, or any other objective theory of mental states. To be sure, it is not hard to see why reductionist theses in the philosophy of mind raise suspicion, as they have often ignored the complexity of our mental lives. In this case, however, the suspicion leads to unwarranted fears about Procrusteans under the bed: it is not the insufficiencies of objectivity, but the vestiges of Empiricism, that suggest that these theories may be inadequate for expressing all the truth about experience that there is.

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López-Austin, Alfredo. The Human Body in the Mexica Worldview
2017, In The Oxford Handbook of the Aztecs, Deborah L. Nichols and Enrique Rodríguez-Alegría (eds.). Oxford University Press
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Added by: M. Jimena Clavel Vázquez and Andrés Hernández Villarreal
Abstract:

For the ancient Mexicas, the composition of the human body was similar to that of the cosmos, with both being composed of dense and light substances. The light substance of the human body was divine in nature and formed the different souls of each human being. Some souls were indispensable for human existence while others were unnecessary and often harmful. The dense part of the human body functioned through its union with the souls. Like the different souls, the dense parts of the human body also had specific functions dedicated to different activities. For example, human thought derived primarily from the heart. Souls could be damaged, which could cause them to malfunction and lead to illness and possibly death in the human being. As the souls were divine, each was a conscious being with its own personality; thus there could be disagreements between them. Disharmony could also lead to illness.

Comment (from this Blueprint): Because of the difficulty of López-Austin’s text, it is proposed to focus only on some sections. Specifically, from chapter 5 focus on the section that introduces the location of animistic states and processes, the section on the linguistic group yol, yollo, the linguistic group tonal, the linguistic group cua, and the linguistic group ihío. Finally, read the section on the animistic centers. Individual members of the reading group can also choose to focus each on one of the animistic entity presented in chapter 6. For illustration of the concepts discussed, consider also reading Bernardino de Sahagún's Florentine Codex.

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Mørch, Hedda Hassel. Does Dispositionalism Entail Panpsychism?
2018, Topoi 1(16)
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Greg Miller
Abstract: According to recent arguments for panpsychism, all (or most) physical properties are dispositional, dispositions require categorical grounds, and the only categorical properties we know are phenomenal properties. Therefore, phenomenal properties can be posited as the categorical grounds of all (or most) physical properties—in order to solve the mind–body problem and/or in order avoid noumenalism about the grounds of the physical world. One challenge to this case comes from dispositionalism, which agrees that all physical properties are dispositional, but denies that dispositions require categorical grounds. In this paper, I propose that this challenge can be met by the claim that the only (fundamentally) dispositional properties we know are phenomenal properties, in particular, phenomenal properties associated with agency, intention and/or motivation. Versions of this claim have been common in the history of philosophy, and have also been supported by a number of contemporary dispositionalists (and other realists about causal powers). I will defend a new and updated version of it. Combined with other premises from the original case for panpsychism—which are not affected by the challenge from dispositionalism—it forms an argument that dispositionalism entails panpsychism.

Comment: This paper argues that dispositional essentialism about properties entails a form of panpsychism because, as a matter of fact, the only dispositional properties we know of are phenomenal properties. This paper is a development of an early argument from Galen Strawson, but it is also entirely novel and intersects with the lively debate about Russellian Monsim. This paper is harder than an introductory text, but students who already understand the debate will not find this text difficult. Students will only need to be familiar with debates about dispositions and powerful properties.

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Nagasawa, Yujin. God and Phenomenal Consciousness: A Novel Approach to Knowledge Arguments
2008, Cambridge University Press.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Tyron Goldschmidt
Publisher's Note: In God and Phenomenal Consciousness, Yujin Nagasawa bridges debates in two distinct areas of philosophy: the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of religion. First, he introduces some of the most powerful arguments against the existence of God and provides objections to them. He then presents a parallel structure between these arguments and influential arguments offered by Thomas Nagel and Frank Jackson against the physicalist approach to phenomenal consciousness. By appealing to this structure, Nagasawa constructs novel objections to Jackson's and Nagel's arguments. Finally, he derives, from the failure of these arguments, a unique metaphysical thesis, which he calls 'non-theoretical physicalism'. Through this thesis, he shows that although this world is entirely physical, there are physical facts that cannot be captured even by complete theories of the physical sciences.

Comment: Fitting for courses on Philosophy of Religion or Philosophy of Mind

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