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The Journal of Philosophy

Volume 116, Issue 12, December 2019

Andy Clark
Pages 645-662
DOI: 10.5840/jphil20191161241

Consciousness as Generative Entanglement

Recent work in cognitive and computational neuroscience depicts the human brain as a complex, multi-layer prediction engine. This family of models has had great success in accounting for a wide variety of phenomena involving perception, action, and attention. But despite their clear promise as accounts of the neurocomputational origins of perceptual experience, they have not yet been leveraged so as to shed light on the so-called “hard problem” of consciousness—the problem of explaining why and how the world is subjectively experienced at all, and why those experiences seem just the way they do. To address this issue, I motivate and defend a picture of conscious experience as flowing from “generative entanglements” that mix predictions about the world, the body, and (crucially) our own reactive dispositions.

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