Brian O'Shaughnessy

in Consciousness and the World

Published in print January 2003 | ISBN: 9780199256723
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598135 | DOI:

Show Summary Details


The aim is to provide a theory of consciousness, and of the relation of consciousness through perception with the World. Consciousness is not a mystery, being an internal state analysable into internal constituents. However, it is essentially directed to the World, and this necessitates some knowledge of the World. Certain epistemological powers are peculiar to it, but are they essential? It emerges that consciousness necessitates an accessible perceptual attentive capacity. This is demonstrated through appeal to the principle: the conscious are ‘in touch with’ Reality, and are of necessity oriented towards the truth. Part of the proof turns upon the theory that perception is the sheer presence to awareness of extensionally given phenomenal objects. It contacts objects (broadly understood), not propositions. This is accomplished through the mediation of perceptual ‘proxies’ like side, surface, and ultimately also in seeing through light and visual sensations. However, even prior to this encounter, a ‘The Visual Given’ is presented to consciousness, a causal posit necessitated by the presence of mental causation in the aetiology of the visual experience. This is where the ‘journey’ of the Attention begins, and it ends in Physical Reality, in a complex mental perceptual‐cognitive phenomenon in which in humans the conceptual powers of the mind are engaged in constituting the physical object and its universal setting. Consciousness has from the start an appointment in the concrete with the World in its ultimate physical form, and the introduction sets out to explain how it is that it keeps that appointment.

Keywords: Attention; awareness; consciousness; experience; mind; Brian O’Shaughnessy; perception; Philosophy of mind; Philosophy of perception; Reality; seeing; world

Chapter.  16930 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.