Chapter

Leibniz on Consciousness and Self‐Consciousness

Rocco J. Gennaro

in New Essays on the Rationalists

Published in print February 2003 | ISBN: 9780195165418
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199868285 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195165411.003.0017
Leibniz on Consciousness and Self‐Consciousness

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“Leibniz on Consciousness and Self‐Consciousness” It is argued that Leibniz held a version of the so‐called “higher‐order thought” (HOT) theory of consciousness. According to this theory, what makes a mental state conscious is that it is accompanied by a thought (or awareness) that one is in that state. For example, in elaborating on his theory of monads, Leibniz explains that an unconscious perception becomes conscious when it is accompanied by an apperception of it. Apperception is best understood as a form of self‐consciousness, and reflection is best understood as a sophisticated form of apperception. With these crucial terminological distinctions in place, it is then argued that treating Leibniz as a HOT theorist can help us understand how he did indeed hold that animals apperceive even if most of them are incapable of sophisticated forms of reflection and rationality.

Keywords: animals; apperception; consciousness; Rocco Gennaro; higher‐order thought; HOT; Leibniz; monads; perception; rationality; reflection; self‐consciousness

Chapter.  9680 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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