Could there be scattered subjects of consciousness?

  • Bartek ChomanskiEmail author


There is a debate between David Barnett and Rory Madden concerning the features that “our naïve conception of conscious subjects” has. While Barnett claims that our conception demands that conscious subjects be simple (that is, not composed of parts), Madden holds that our conception demands that conscious beings be topologically integrated (meaning, roughly, that you can travel from any proper part of the conscious subject to any other without breaking the subject’s boundaries). In this paper, I aim to bring some empirical results concerning the rubber-hand illusions and bilocation illusions to bear on this topic. While I do not reach a definitive resolution to the dispute between Barnett and Madden, I suggest that, provisionally, the empirical results favor Barnett’s proposal.


Conscious subjects Consciousness Rubber-hand illusion Naive topology Bilocation Heautoscopy 



I am grateful to the reviewers for this journal for a range of helpful suggestions that improved the paper significantly.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and ReligionNortheastern UniversityBostonUSA

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