The Embodiment of Mind

The Embodiment of Mind

Gerald M. Edelman

Consciousness is a process, not a thing. We experience it as an ongoing series of myriad states, each different but at the same time each unitary. In other words, we do not experience ‘just this pencil’ or ‘just the colour red.’ Instead, within a period I have called the remembered present [3], consciousness consists of combinations of external perceptions and various feelings that may include vision, hearing, smell, and other senses such as proprioception, as well as imagery, memory, mood, and emotion. The combinations in which these may participate are usually not fragmented, but instead form a whole ‘scene.’ Consciousness has the property of intentionality or ‘aboutness’ – it usually refers to objects, events, images, or ideas, but it doesn’t exhaust the characteristics of the objects toward which it is directed. Furthermore, consciousness is qualitative, subjective, and therefore, to a large degree, private. Its details and actual feel are not obviously accessible to others as they are to the conscious individual who has wide-ranging first-person access to ongoing phenomenal experience.

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