•  305
    The Co-Evolution of Matter and Consciousness
    Synthesis Philosophica 22 (2): 273-282. 2007.
    Theories about the evolution of consciousness relate in an intimate way to theories about the distribution of consciousness, which range from the view that only human beings are conscious to the view that all matter is in some sense conscious. Broadly speaking, such theories can be classified into discontinuity theories and continuity theories. Discontinuity theories propose that consciousness emerged only when material forms reached a given stage of evolution, but propose different criteria for…Read more
  •  254
    Is human information processing conscious?
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 14 (4): 651-69. 1991.
    Investigations of the function of consciousness in human information processing have focused mainly on two questions: (1) where does consciousness enter into the information processing sequence and (2) how does conscious processing differ from preconscious and unconscious processing. Input analysis is thought to be initially "preconscious," "pre-attentive," fast, involuntary, and automatic. This is followed by "conscious," "focal-attentive" analysis which is relatively slow, voluntary, and flexi…Read more
  •  247
    The following extracts with connecting comments suggest a departure point for a definitions of consciousness that preserves its everyday phenomenology while allowing an understanding of what consciousness is to deepen as scientific investigation proceeds. I argue that current definitions are often theory-driven rather than following the contours of ordinary experience. Consequently they are sometimes too broad, sometimes too narrow, and sometimes not definitions of phenomenal consciousness at al…Read more
  •  234
    Why conscious free will both is and isn't an illusion
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 27 (5): 677. 2004.
    Wegner’s analysis of the illusion of conscious will is close to my own account of how conscious experiences relate to brain processes. But our analyses differ somewhat on how conscious will is not an illusion. Wegner argues that once conscious will arises it enters causally into subsequent mental processing. I argue that while his causal story is accurate, it remains a first-person story. Conscious free will is not an illusion in the sense that this first-person story is compatible with and comp…Read more
  •  218
    How to define consciousness—and how not to define consciousness
    Journal of Consciousness Studies 16 (5): 139-156. 2009.
    Definitions of consciousness need to be sufficiently broad to include all examples of conscious states and sufficiently narrow to exclude entities, events and processes that are not conscious. Unfortunately, deviations from these simple principles are common in modern consciousness studies, with consequent confusion and internal division in the field. The present paper gives example of ways in which definitions of consciousness can be either too broad or too narrow. It also discusses some of the…Read more
  •  214
    Reflexive monism
    Journal of Consciousness Studies 15 (2): 5-50. 2008.
    Reflexive monism is, in essence, an ancient view of how consciousness relates to the material world that has, in recent decades, been resurrected in modern form. In this paper I discuss how some of its basic features differ from both dualism and variants of physicalist and functionalist reductionism, focusing on those aspects of the theory that challenge deeply rooted presuppositions in current Western thought. I pay particular attention to the ontological status and seeming “out-thereness” of t…Read more
  •  198
    Goodbye to reductionism: Complementary first and third-person approaches to consciousness
    In Stuart R. Hameroff, Alfred W. Kaszniak & A. C. Scott (eds.), Toward a Science of Consciousness II, Mit Press. pp. 45-52. 1998.
    To understand consciousness we must first describe what we experience accurately. But oddly, current dualist vs reductionist debates characterise experience in ways which do not correspond to ordinary experience. Indeed, there is no other area of enquiry where the phenomenon to be studied has been so systematically misdescribed. Given this, it is hardly surprising that progress towards understanding the nature of consciousness has been limited. This chapter argues that dualist vs. reductionist d…Read more
  •  193
    Preconscious free will
    Journal of Consciousness Studies 10 (12): 42-61. 2003.
    This paper responds to continuing commentary on Velmans (2002a) “How could conscious experiences affect brains,” a target article for a special issue of JCS. I focus on the final question dealt with by the target article: how free will relates to preconscious and conscious mental processing, and I develop the case for preconscious free will. Although “preconscious free will” might appear to be a contradiction in terms, it is consistent with the scientific evidence and provides a parsimonious way…Read more
  •  190
    Heterophenomenology versus critical phenomenology
    Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 6 (1): 221-230. 2007.
    Following an on-line dialogue with Dennett (Velmans, 2001) this paper examines the similarities and differences between heterophenomenology (HP) and critical phenomenology (CP), two competing accounts of the way that conscious phenomenology should be, and normally is incorporated into psychology and related sciences. Dennett’s heterophenomenology includes subjective reports of conscious experiences, but according to Dennett, first person conscious phenomena in the form of “qualia” such as hardne…Read more
  •  177
    How experienced phenomena relate to things themselves: Kant, Husserl, Hoche, and reflexive monism
    Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 6 (3): 411-423. 2007.
    What we normally think of as the “physical world” is also the world as experienced, that is, a world of appearances. Given this, what is the reality behind the appearances, and what might its relation be to consciousness and to constructive processes in the mind? According to Kant, the thing itself that brings about and supports these appearances is unknowable and we can never gain any understanding of how it brings such appearances about. Reflexive monism argues the opposite: the thing itself i…Read more
  •  164
    Dualists believe that experiences have neither location nor extension, while reductive and ‘non-reductive’ physicalists (biological naturalists) believe that experiences are really in the brain, producing an apparent impasse in current theories of mind. Enactive and reflexive models of perception try to resolve this impasse with a form of “externalism” that challenges the assumption that experiences must either be nowhere or in the brain. However, they are externalist in very different ways. Ins…Read more
  •  155
    A natural account of phenomenal consciousness
    Communication and Cognition: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly Journal 34 (1): 39-59. 2001.
    Physicalists commonly argue that conscious experiences are nothing more than states of the brain, and that conscious qualia are observer-independent, physical properties of the external world. Although this assumes the 'mantle of science,' it routinely ignores the findings of science, for example in sensory physiology, perception, psychophysics, neuropsychology and comparative psychology. Consequently, although physicalism aims to naturalise consciousness, it gives an unnatural account of it. It…Read more
  •  137
    Modern consciousness studies are in a healthy state, with many progressive empirical programmes in cognitive science, neuroscience and related sciences, using relatively conventional third-person research methods. However not all the problems of consciousness can be resolved in this way. These problems may be grouped into problems that require empirical advance, those that require theoretical advance, and those that require a re-examination of some of our pre-theoretical assumptions. I give exam…Read more
  •  113
    How could conscious experiences affect brains?
    Journal of Consciousness Studies 9 (11): 3-29. 2002.
    In everyday life we take it for granted that we have conscious control of some of our actions and that the part of us that exercises control is the conscious mind. Psychosomatic medicine also assumes that the conscious mind can affect body states, and this is supported by evidence that the use of imagery, hypnosis, biofeedback and other ‘mental interventions’ can be therapeutic in a variety of medical conditions. However, there is no accepted theory of mind/body interaction and this has had a de…Read more
  •  102
    The relation of consciousness to the material world
    Journal of Consciousness Studies 2 (3): 255-265. 1995.
    Within psychology and the brain sciences, the study of consciousness and its relation to human information processing is once more a focus for productive research. However, some ancient puzzles about the nature of consciousness appear to be resistant to current empirical investigations, suggesting the need for a fundamentally different approach. In Velmans I have argued that functional accounts of the mind do not `contain' consciousness within their workings. Investigations of information proces…Read more
  •  98
    Consciousness, brain, and the physical world
    Philosophical Psychology 3 (1): 77-99. 1990.
    Dualist and Reductionist theories of mind disagree about whether or not consciousness can be reduced to a state of or function of the brain. They assume, however, that the contents of consciousness are separate from the external physical world as-perceived. According to the present paper this assumption has no foundation either in everyday experience or in science. Drawing on evidence for perceptual projection in both interoceptive and exteroceptive sense modalities, the case is made that the ph…Read more
  •  80
    There are two quite distinct ways in which events that we normally think of as “physical” relate in an intimate way to events that we normally think of as “psychological”. One intimate relation occurs in exteroception at the point where events in the world become events as-perceived. The other intimate relationship occurs at the interface of conscious experience with its neural correlates in the brain. The chapter examines each of these relationships and positions them within a dual-aspect, refl…Read more
  •  78
    This chapter examines the similarities and differences between physical, psychological and virtual realities, and challenges some conventional, implicitly dualist assumptions about how these relate to each other. Virtual realities are not easily understood in either dualist or materialist reductive terms, as they exemplify the reflexive nature of perception. The chapter summarises some of the evidence for this “reflexive model”—and examines some of its consequences for the “hard” problem of cons…Read more
  •  75
    An epistemology for the study of consciousness
    In Max Velmans & Susan Schneider (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness, Blackwell. pp. 711--725. 2007.
    This is a prepublication version of the final chapter from the Blackwell Companion to Consciousness. In it I re-examine the basic conditions required for a study of conscious experiences in the light of progress made in recent years in the field of consciousness studies. I argue that neither dualist nor reductionist assumptions about subjectivity versus objectivity and the privacy of experience versus the public nature of scientific observations allow an adequate understanding of how studies of …Read more
  •  74
    ABSTRACT. The following is an email interchange that took place between Dan Dennett and myself in the period 14th to 28th June, 2001. The discussion tries to clarify some essential features of the "heterophenomenology" developed in his book Consciousness Explained (1996), and how this differs from a form of "critical phenomenology" implicit in my own book Understanding Consciousness (2000), and developed in my edited Investigating Phenomenal Consciousness: new methodologies and maps (2000). The …Read more
  •  73
    Consciousness from a first-person perspective
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 14 (4): 702-726. 1991.
    This paper replies to the first 36 commentaries on my target article on “Is human information processing conscious?” (Behavioral and Brain Sciences,1991, pp.651-669). The target article focused largely on experimental studies of how consciousness relates to human information processing, tracing their relation from input through to output, while discussion of the implications of the findings both for cognitive psychology and philosophy of mind was relatively brief. The commentaries reversed this …Read more
  •  68
    Classical ways of viewing the relation of consciousness to the brain and physical world make it difficult to see how consciousness can be a subject of scientific study. In contrast to physical events, it seems to be private, subjective, and viewable only from a subject's first-person perspective. But much of psychology does investigate human experience, which suggests that classical ways of viewing these relations must be wrong. An alternative, Reflexive model is outlined along with it's consequ…Read more
  •  67
    Making sense of causal interactions between consciousness and brain
    Journal of Consciousness Studies 9 (11): 69-95. 2002.
    My target article (henceforth referred to as TA) presents evidence for causal interactions between consciousness and brain and some standard ways of accounting for this evidence in clinical practice and neuropsychological theory. I also point out some of the problems of understanding such causal interactions that are not addressed by standard explanations. Most of the residual problems have to do with how to cross the “explanatory gap” from consciousness to brain. I then list some of the reasons…Read more
  •  66
    When perception becomes conscious
    British Journal of Psychology 90 (4): 543-566. 1999.
    The study of preconscious versus conscious processing has an extensive history in cognitive psychology, dating back to the writings of William James. Much of the experimental work on this issue has focused on perception, conceived of as input analysis, and on the relation of consciousness to attentional processing. The present paper examines when input analysis becomes conscious from the perspectives of cognitive modelling, methodology, and a more detailed understanding of what is meant by "cons…Read more
  •  62
    Could phenomenal consciousness function as a cognitive unconscious?
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25 (3): 357-358. 2002.
    Evidence for unconscious semantic representation suggests that a cognitive unconscious exists. Phenomenal consciousness cannot easily be shown to deal with complex cognitive operations such as those involved in language translation and creativity. A self-organising phenomenal consciousness that controls brain functions also runs into mind/body problems (well recognised in the consciousness studies literature) that Perruchet & Vinter must address.
  •  62
    Towards a Deeper Understanding of Consciousness: Selected works of Max Velmans
    Routledge World Library of Psychologists Series. 2017.
    (Publisher's Description) In the World Library of Psychologists series, international experts themselves present career-long collections of what they judge to be their finest pieces - extracts from books, key articles, salient research findings, and their major practical theoretical contributions. In this volume Max Velmans reflects on his long-spanning and varied career, considers the highs and lows in a brand new introduction and offers reactions to those who have responded to his published wo…Read more
  •  60
    Neural activation, information, and phenomenal consciousness
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (1): 172-173. 1999.
    This is an open peer commentary on O’Brien & Opie (1999) “A connectionist theory of phenomenal experience”, published as a target article in the Behavioral and Brain Sciences. O’Brien & Opie defend a “vehicle” rather than a “process” theory of consciousness largely on the grounds that only conscious information is “explicit”. I argue that preconscious and unconscious representations can be functionally explicit (semantically well-formed and causally active). I also suggest that their analysis…Read more
  •  58
    How can one investigate phenomenal consciousness? As in other areas of science, the investigation of consciousness aims for a more precise knowledge of its phenomena, and the discovery of general truths about their nature. This requires the development of appropriate first-person, second-person and third-person methods. This book introduces some of the creative ways in which these methods can be applied to different purposes, e.g. to understanding the relation of consciousness to brain, to exami…Read more
  •  56
    Are we out of our minds?
    Journal of Consciousness Studies 12 (6): 109-116. 2005.
    This paper is a commentary on Rupert Sheldrake’s analysis of theories of perception (in JCS, 2005, 2006). As Sheldrake points out in his fascinating review of ancient and modern thinking on this subject, theories of vision have ranged from “extramissive” theories that posit some active influence emanating from the eyes that both illuminates and influences the external world, “intramissive” theories that stress the influence of the external world on the (passive) brain, and theories in which intr…Read more
  •  55
    Is the world in the brain, or the brain in the world?
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 26 (4): 427-429. 2003.
    Lehar provides useful insights into spatially extended phenomenology that may have major consequences for neuroscience. However, Lehar's biological naturalism leads to counterintuitive conclusions, and he does not give an accurate account of preceding and competing work. This commentary compares Lehar's analysis with that of Velmans, which addresses similar issues but draws opposite conclusions. Lehar argues that the phenomenal world is in the brain and concludes that the physical skull is beyon…Read more