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EECS Publication

Protophenomena: The Elements of Consciousness and their Relation to the Brain

Bruce MacLennan.

We argue that fundamental differences of kind prevent subjective experience from being reduced to neural phenomena. Nevertheless, it is possible to perform a quantitative reduction of subjective experience to smaller units of subjectivity in parallel with a reduction of neurological processes to more elementary neurological events. Protophenomena are presented as theoretical entities corresponding to the smallest units of subjectivity. (They are very small; there are perhaps 10 to 100 billion in a person's complete conscious state.) Protophenomena are quantitatively simple, having only a degree of presence in consciousness, but cohere into subjectively complex qualia through their connections with other protophenomena. We discuss how the structure of conscious experience emerges from the interrelationship of protophenomena, and apply the protophenomenal approach to some traditional conundrums, such as spectral inversion. We conclude with some speculations about the implications of protophenomenal theory for non-biological consciousness and fundamental physics.

Published  2003-01-01 05:00:00  as  ut-cs-03-500 (ID:206)


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