Symbolic Conscious Experience
Inspired by the eminently successful physical theories and informed by commonplace experiences such as seeing a cat upon looking at a cat, conscious experience is thought of as a measurement or photocopy of given stimulus. Conscious experience, unlike a photocopy, is symbolic—like language—in that the relation between conscious experience and physical stimulus is analogous to that of the word "cat" and its meaning, i.e., arbitrary and yet systematic. We present arguments against the photocopy model and arguments for a symbolic conception of conscious experience. Learning and the corresponding plasticity of the brain make a strong case for the symbolic conception of conscious experience, while many extra-ordinary conscious experiences argue against the formalisation of consciousness as a measuring device. The notions of place-value notation and grammar, which organise quantitative measurements and conscious experiences in the medium of numbers and language, respectively, are suggested as model systems for putting together a comprehensive theory of conscious experience.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).