Rowland Stout

in The Inner Life of a Rational Agent

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780748623433
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652501 | DOI:

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This chapter considers consciousness, long thought to be the hardest nut for a behaviourist to crack. It argues for an epistemic approach to consciousness in which the idea of a conscious state of mind is understood in terms of the idea of a person being conscious of something and not the other way round. The chapter then applies the account of knowledge to yield the following account of consciousness: S is conscious of O if and only if O’s present relationship with S provides S with a means to knowledge of O. This does not undermine the idea of consciousness or drain it of phenomenal content. Being conscious of the dusty redness and ineffable earthy smell of a tomato is to know the dusty redness and ineffable earthy smell of the tomato through their being present to one’s visual and olfactory capacities. Sensory qualities are out there, and when their presence to us enables us to know them, they enter into our conscious states.

Keywords: conscious states; knowledge; self-knowledge; sensory qualities

Chapter.  11783 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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