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Epistemology & Philosophy of Science

Volume 49, Issue 3, 2016

Dmitry Ivanov
Pages 88-104

Enactivism and the Problem of Consciousness

The paper deals with the enactivist approach to the problem of consciousness. The problem of consciousness is the problem of naturalistic explanation of phenomenal aspects of our experience. According to classical cognitive science, we can explain all mental states as functional, representational states. Many philosophers disagree with this view. They demonstrate that phenomenal qualities of conscious states cannot be understood in terms of mental representations. Contemporary debates about the nature of phenomenal qualities are the debates between representationalists and anti-representationalists. The arguments proposed by anti-representationalists demonstrate the insufficiency of classical representational approach. But it doesn't mean that we should accept the existence of qualia - special nonrepresentational phenomenal properties. It is possible to defend representationalism by reconsidering the nature of mental representations. This article examines the transformation of the concept of mental representation in cognitive science over the last few decades. It demonstrates that the notion of representation in action discussed in enactivist theories can help us to provide the foundation for naturalistic understanding of conscious experience.

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