On Language and Consciousness
  • ISSN 0929-0907
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9943
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Since Jackendoff has shown that language facilitates abstract and complex thought by making possible subtle manipulations of the focus of attention, and since the kind of attention relevant here is attention to aspects of intentional objects in conscious awareness, it follows that the abstract and complex thinking that language facilitates owes much to the working of a conscious process. This, however, conflicts with Jackendoff's view of consciousness as something which does not play a direct part in thinking, but is only a byproduct of a non-conscious computational process in the brain which does the real thinking. I argue that, since Jackendoff s phenomenology of language shows that attention plays such an important part in thinking, yet language can help us attend only to what we are conscious of consciousness does play an important part in thinking. Moreover, consciousness cannot be merely an epiphenomenal byproduct separable in principle from underlying physical mechanisms, because this would imply that consciousness itself is not physical, which would lead to dualism. But if consciousness is inseparable from its physiological substratum, then it also causes whatever effects the physiological substratum causes.


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  • Article Type: Discussion
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