Emptying Consciousness: Functionalism

  • Raymond Tallis


The biological (causal) and computational theories of consciousness have the common outcome of reducing mind to a set of input/output relations. In the biological model, the emphasis is on the causal links between perception and its external occasions — the objects of perception — and active peripherals such as muscles and glands. In the computer model, the emphasis is on computational procedures whose essence is the rule-governed transformation of formulae into other formulae. In both cases, consciousness is curiously emptied. Traditional mental contents disappear and the mind itself becomes an unremarkable and unspecial site in causal chains and computational procedures that begin before consciousness and extend beyond it. Indeed, mind is scarcely a locus in its own right and certainly does not have its own space. It is a through road (or a small part of one) rather than a dwelling. Consciousness is voided of inwardness.


Mental State Causal Relation Subjective Experience Thought Experiment Subjective Quality 
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Notes and References

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Copyright information

© Raymond Tallis 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Raymond Tallis

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