Publications of Place that refer to Weiskrantz (1986). Blindsight: A Case Study and Implications
Place, U. T. (1992f). Two concepts of consciousness: the biological/private and the linguistic/social. Acta Analytica, 7(8), 53-72.
How much of the mental life which we attribute to ourselves and our fellow human beings should we attribute to other creatures, particularly those mammals to which we are most closely related in evolutionary terms, given that such creatures do not communicate with one another by means of anything resembling human natural language?
The paper approaches this question historically by considering the positions taken by Aristotle, Descartes, the post-Darwinians such as Romanes, the behaviorists down to Skinner, and contemporary philosophers such as Davidson and Fodor. A distinction is drawn between two concepts of consciousness: the biological/private which I argue we should not hesitate to attribute to all warm-blooded vertebrates and the linguistic/social which is exclusively human.
The concept of consciousness as biological and private is the 'consciousness' of traditional introspective psychology and of 'Is consciousness a brain process?' (Place 1956). It comprises the phenomena of selective attention, conceptualization, mental image formation, emotional reaction and motivation. The concept of consciousness as linguistic and social is the consciousness of Hegel, Marx, Vygotsky, Skinner and much contemporary philosophical psychology. It consists of an integrated system of propositional attitudes (beliefs) all of which are either formulated or susceptible to formulation as sentences in natural language (Skinner's "contingency-specifying stimuli" or "rules").
Download: 1992f Two Concepts of Consciousness the Biological Private and the Linguistic Social.pdf
Place, U. T. (1996o). On the anti-depressant effect of suppressing REM sleep [Conference presentation, presented at the Fifth Annual Meeting of the European Society for Philosophy and Psychology at Barcelona on the 18th of July 1996]. European Society for Philosophy and Psychology.
In a paper presented to the 1995 Euro-SPP Meeting in Oxford Kathleen Taylor and I proposed the identification of conscious experience with the activity of what we call the "central input focuser (CIF)" which restructures the figure-ground relations within what Broadbent (1971) has called the "evidence" on which the categorization of problematic inputs is based. We further suggested that rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep is a condition in which the CIF is allowed to "freewheel" while decoupled from sensory input. As a result the vivid dream imagery which is characteristic of and peculiar to this phase of sleep recapitulates those associations formed during the preceding period of waking which have acquired motivational significance and hence an emotional charge by virtue of their resemblance to or associative links with emotionally charged events in the dreamer's past life. The effect of this is to ensure that the dreamer's attention is caught by inputs which have these emotionally charged associations during subsequent periods of waking consciousness. In this paper an explanation, based on this hypothesis, is offered of the well-known fact that anti-depressant drugs have the effect of suppressing REM sleep; though what the hypothesis in fact explains is why a drug that suppresses REM sleep should have an anti-depressant effect.
Download: 1996o On the Anti-Depressant Effect of Suppressing REM Sleep.pdf
Place, U. T. (1999d). Connectionism and the problem of consciousness. Acta Analytica, 14(22), 197-226.
This paper falls into three parts. In Part 1 I give my reasons for rejecting two aspects of Horgan and Tienson's position as laid out in their book, the language of thought and belief-desire explanations of behaviour, while endorsing the connection they see between linguistic syntax and the syntax of a motor skill. In Part 2 I outline the theory that the brain consists of two input-output transformation systems consciousness whose function is (a) to categorise problematic inputs, (b) to select a response appropriate to such inputs once they have been categorised and (c) to initiate and monitor the execution of such response once selected, and the "zombie-within" whose function is (a) to identify and alert consciousness to any inputs that are problematic either because they are unexpected or because they are significant relative to the agent's current or perennial motivational concerns. In Part 3 I consider how far the properties of the two systems outlined in Part 2 can be understood in terms of the known properties of connectionist networks.
Keywords: connectionism, consciousness, problematic input, zombie-within
The download file contains some text added by the author after publication. Footnote 2 is added.
[References]  [1 referring publications by Place]
Download: 1999d Connectionism and the Problem of Consciousness.pdf
Place, U. T. (1999h). The picture theory of meaning: A rehabilation [Conference presentation; presented to the IUC Conference on Epistemology, Bled, Slovenia, 31st May - June 5th 1999].
I argue the case for a rehabilitation of the "picture theory" of the meaning of sentences expounded by Wittgenstein (1921/1971) in the Tractatus, but abandoned by him in moving from his earlier to his later philosophy. This rehabilitation requires the replacement of 'facts' as the objects which sentences depict by 'situations' (Barwise and Perry 1983) and the recognition that the situation depicted by a sentence is an "intentional object" (Brentano 1871/1995). It also implies a different view of the way his sense (Sinn)/reference (Bedeutung) distinction should be applied to the meaning of sentences from that maintained by Frege (1892/1960) himself. Such a theory opens the door to a thorough-going empiricist theory of the acquisition of both concepts and sentence structure.
Download: 1999h The Picture Theory of Meaning - A Rehabilitation.pdf
Place, U. T. (2000a). Consciousness and the zombie-within: a functional analysis of the blindsight evidence. In Y. Rossetti, & A. Revonsuo (Eds.), Beyond dissociations: Interaction between dissociated implicit and explicit processing (pp. 295-329). John Benjamins. doi:10.1075/aicr.22.15pla
Cowey & Stoerig's (1995) demonstration that the phenomenon of blindsight applies to monkeys with striate cortical lesions in the same way as it does to humans with similar lesions makes it plausible to argue that the behaviour of mammals and probably that of other vertebrates is controlled by two distinct but closely interdependent and interacting systems in the brain which I shall refer to respectively as 'consciousness' and the 'sub-conscious automatic pilot or "zombie" within'. On this hypothesis, consciousness has three functions, (a) that of categorizing any input that is problematic in that it is either unexpected or significant relative to the individual's current or perennial motivational concerns, (b) that of selecting a response appropriate both to the presence of a thing of that kind and to the individual's motivational concerns with respect to it, and (c) that of monitoring the execution of that response. Conscious/phenomenal experience, on this view, is the first stage in the process whereby problematic inputs are processed by consciousness. Its function is to modify the figure-ground relations within the central representation of a problematic input until an adequate categorization is selected. The sub-conscious automatic pilot or “zombie-within” has two functions (a) that of continuously scanning the total current input and alerting consciousness to any input it identifies as problematic, (b) that of protecting consciousness from overload either by ignoring those non-problematic inputs which require no response or by responding appropriately but automatically to those for which there already exists a well practised skill or other “instinctive” response pattern.
[References]  [Is cited by]  [4 referring publications by Place]  [Reprinting collections]
Download: 2000a Consciousness and the Zombie-within a Functional Analysis of the Blindsight Evidence.pdf
Place, U. T. (2000b). The causal potency of qualia: Its nature and its source. Brain and Mind, 1, 183-192. doi:10.1023/A:1010023129393
There is an argument (Medlin, 1967; Place, 1988) which shows conclusively that if qualia are causally impotent we could have no possible grounds for believing that they exist. But if, as this argument shows, qualia are causally potent with respect to the descriptions we give of them, it is tolerably certain that they are causally potent in other more biologically significant respects. The empirical evidence, from studies of the effect of lesions of the striate cortex (Humphrey, 1974; Weiskrantz, 1986; Cowey and Stoerig, 1995) shows that what is missing in the absence of visual qualia is the ability to categorize sensory inputs in the visual modality. This would suggest that the function of private experience is to supply what Broadbent (1971) calls the “evidence” on which the categorization of problematic sensory inputs are based. At the same time analysis of the causal relation shows that what differentiates a causal relation from an accidental spatio-temporal conjunction is the existence of reciprocally related dispositional properties of the entities involved which combine to make it true that if one member of the conjunction, the cause, had not existed, the other, the effect, would not have existed. The possibility that qualia might be dispositional properties of experiences which, as it were, supply the invisible “glue” that sticks cause to effect in this case is examined, but finally rejected.
[References]  [Reprinting collections]
Download: 2000b The Causal Potency of Qualia.pdf
Place, U. T., & Taylor, K. E. (1995). The functions of consciousness and its constituent parts [Conference presentation, presented to the Annual Meeting of the European Society for Philosophy and Psychology, St. Catherine's College, Oxford, 31st August 1995]. European Society for Philosophy and Psychology
[References]  [2 referring publications by Place]
Download: Place & Taylor (1995) The Functions of Consciousness and its Constituent Part.pdf