Philosophy and the Mind Sciences 2020-06-10T10:07:25+02:00 Editors-in-Chief Open Journal Systems <p><em>Philosophy and the Mind Sciences</em>&nbsp;(PhiMiSci) is a peer-reviewed, not-for-profit, open-access journal that is free for authors and readers. PhiMiSci focuses on the interface between philosophy of mind, psychology, and cognitive neuroscience. Articles can be submitted at any time and will be published whenever peer-review and revisions have been completed. In addition to these stand-alone articles, PhiMiSci publishes collections of articles on special topics, compiled by guest editors.</p> Is mental time travel real time travel? 2020-06-09T10:27:30+02:00 Michael Barkasi Melanie G. Rosen <p>Episodic memory (memories of the personal past) and prospecting the future (anticipating events) are often described as mental time travel (MTT). While most use this description metaphorically, we argue that episodic memory may allow for MTT in at least some robust sense. While episodic memory experiences may not allow us to literally <em>travel</em> through time, they do afford genuine <em>awareness</em> of past-perceived events. This is in contrast to an alternative view on which episodic memory experiences present past-perceived events as mere intentional contents. Hence, episodic memory is a way of coming into experiential contact with, or being again aware of, what happened in the past. We argue that episodic memory experiences depend on a causal-informational link with the past events being remembered, and that, assuming direct realism about episodic memory experiences, this link suffices for genuine awareness. Since there is no such link in future prospection, a similar argument cannot be used to show that it also affords genuine awareness of future events. Constructivist views of memory might challenge the idea of memory as genuine awareness of remembered events. We explain how our view is consistent with both constructivist and anti-causalist conceptions of memory. There is still room for an interpretation of episodic memory as enabling genuine awareness of past events, even if it involves reconstruction.</p> 2020-05-26T00:00:00+02:00 Copyright (c) 2020 Michael Barkasi, Melanie G. Rosen Perspectival self-consciousness and ego-dissolution 2020-06-09T10:27:44+02:00 Miguel Angel Sebastian <div id="magicparlabel-494" class="abstract">It is often claimed that a minimal form of self-awareness is constitutive of our conscious experience. Some have considered that such a claim is plausible for our ordinary experiences but false when considered unrestrictedly on the basis of the empirical evidence from altered states. In this paper I want to reject such a reasoning. <div class="abstract_item">This requires, first, a proper understanding of a minimal form of self-awareness – one that makes it plausible that minimal self-awareness is part of our ordinary experiences. I will argue that it should be understood as <em>Perspectival First-Person </em>Awareness (PFP-Awareness): a non-conceptual identification-free self-attribution that defines the first-person perspective for our conscious experience. I will offer a detailed characterization of PFP-Awareness in semantic and epistemological terms.</div> <div class="abstract_item">With this tool in hand, I will review the empirical literature on altered states. I will focus on psychedelics, meditation and dreams, as they have been claimed to present the clearest cases in favor of a radical disruption of self-awareness. I will show that the rejection of the idea that minimal self-awareness is constitutive of our experience on the basis of this evidence is unfounded, for two main reasons. First, although there are good grounds to think that some forms of self-awareness that typically accompany our ordinary experiences are compromised, they do not support the claim that PFP-Awareness is absent. Secondly, the reports that could make us think of a radical disruption of self-awareness are most probably due to a confirmation bias – and hence we should mistrust them – derived from the expectations and metaphysical views of their subjects.</div> </div> 2020-03-24T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2020 Miguel Angel Sebastian Cotard syndrome, self-awareness, and I-concepts 2020-06-09T10:27:48+02:00 Rocco Joseph Gennaro <p>Various psychopathologies of self-awareness, such as somatoparaphrenia and thought insertion in schizophrenia, might seem to threaten the viability of the higher-order thought (HOT) theory of consciousness since it requires a HOT about <em>one’s own</em> mental state to accompany every conscious state. The HOT theory of consciousness says that what makes a mental state a conscious mental state is that there is a HOT to the effect that “I am in mental state M.” I have argued in previous work that a HOT theorist can adequately respond to this concern with respect to somatoparaphrenia and thought insertion. There is also Cotard syndrome which is a rare neuropsychiatric disorder in which people hold the delusional belief that they are dead, do not exist, or have lost their blood or internal organs. In this paper, I argue that HOT theory has nothing to fear from it either and can consistently account for what happens in such unusual cases. I analyze Cotard syndrome in light of my previous discussion of somatoparaphrenia and thought insertion, and argue that HOT theory can provide a somewhat analogous account without the worry of inconsistency. It is crucial to recognize that there are multiple “self-concepts” and levels of HOTs which can help to provide a more nuanced explanation. With regard to the connection between consciousness and self-consciousness, it is proposed that Cotard patients are indeed capable of having some “I-thoughts” about their bodies and mental states.</p> 2020-03-24T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2020 Rocco Joseph Gennaro Look who's talking! 2020-06-09T10:27:51+02:00 Sascha Benjamin Fink <p>How to model non-egoic experiences – mental events with phenomenal aspects that lack a felt self – has become an interesting research question. The main source of evidence for the existence of such non-egoic experiences are self-ascriptions of non-egoic experiences. In these, a person says about herself that she underwent an episode where she was conscious but lacked a feeling of self. Some interpret these as accurate reports, but this is questionable. Thomas Metzinger (2004, p. 566, 2018), Rocco Gennaro (2008), and Charles Foster (2016, p. 6) have hinted at the self-defeating nature of such statements if we take them to be genuine reports: Apparently, the reporter (a) explicitly denies her existence during the selfless experience, but (b) implicitly affirms her existence as a witness to that selfless experience in order to give a first-person report about it. So the content of such a report conflicts with the pragmatics of reporting. If all self-ascriptions of non-egoic experiences are self-defeating in this way, then they cannot count as evidence for the existence of non-egoic experiences. Here, I map out why such strong conclusions do not directly follow: What look like self-ascriptions of non-egoic experiences may occur for a number of reasons. Only some explanations for such utterances rely on a change in consciousness. Of those that do rely on a change in consciousness, only one (total ego-dissolution) is incoherent. But its alternatives do not lead to contradictions. I argue that the most likely change in phenomenality that leads to self-ascriptions of non-egoic experiences is not one where a felt self disappears, but where it expands.</p> 2020-03-24T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2020 Sascha Benjamin Fink Dissolving the self 2020-06-09T10:27:55+02:00 George Deane <p>Psychedelic drugs such as psilocybin, LSD and DMT are known to induce powerful alterations in phenomenology. Perhaps of most philosophical and scientific interest is their capacity to disrupt and even “dissolve” one of the most primary features of normal experience: that of being a self. Such “peak” or “mystical” experiences are of increasing interest for their potentially transformative therapeutic value. While empirical research is underway, a theoretical conception of the mechanisms underpinning these experiences remains elusive. In the following paper, psychedelic-induced ego-dissolution is accounted for within an active inference framework, as a collapse in the “temporal thickness” of an agent’s deep temporal model, as a result of lowered precision on high-level priors. The argument here is composed of three moves: first, a view of the self-model is proposed as arising within a temporally deep generative model of an embodied organism navigating an affordance landscape in the service of allostasis. Next, a view of the action of psychedelics as lowering the precision of high-level priors within the generative model is unpacked in terms of a high Bayesian learning rate. Finally, the relaxation of high-level priors is argued to cause a “collapse” in the temporal thickness of the generative model, resulting in a collapse in the self-model and a loss of the ordinary sense of being a self. This account has implications for our understanding of ordinary self-consciousness and disruptions in self-consciousness present in psychosis, autism, depression, and dissociative disorders. The philosophical, theoretical and therapeutic implications of this account are touched upon.</p> 2020-03-24T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2020 George Deane Attenuating oneself 2020-06-09T10:27:59+02:00 Jakub Limanowski Karl Friston <p>In this paper, we address reports of “selfless” experiences from the perspective of active inference and predictive processing. Our argument builds upon grounding self-modelling in active inference as action planning and precision control within deep generative models – thus establishing a link between computational mechanisms and phenomenal selfhood. We propose that “selfless” experiences can be interpreted as (rare) cases in which normally congruent processes of computational and phenomenal self-modelling diverge in an otherwise conscious system. We discuss two potential mechanisms – within the Bayesian mechanics of active inference – that could lead to such a divergence by attenuating the experience of selfhood: “self-flattening” via reduction in the depth of active inference and “self-attenuation” via reduction of the expected precision of self-evidence.</p> 2020-03-24T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2020 Jakub Limanowski, Karl Friston Minimal phenomenal experience 2020-06-09T10:27:42+02:00 Thomas Metzinger <p>This is the first in a series of instalments aiming at a minimal model explanation for conscious experience, taking the phenomenal character of “pure consciousness” or “pure awareness” in meditation as its entry point. It develops the concept of “minimal phenomenal experience” (MPE) as a candidate for the simplest form of consciousness, substantiating it by extracting six semantic constraints from the existing literature and using sixteen phenomenological case-studies to incrementally flesh out the new working concept. One empirical hypothesis is that the phenomenological prototype of “pure awareness”, to which all such reports refer, really is the content of a predictive model, namely, a Bayesian representation of tonic alertness. On a more abstract conceptual level, it can be described as a model of an unpartitioned epistemic space.</p> 2020-03-24T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2020 Thomas Metzinger Being for no-one 2020-06-09T10:27:39+02:00 Chris Letheby <p>Can there be phenomenal consciousness without self-consciousness? Strong intuitions and prominent theories of consciousness say “no”: experience requires minimal self-awareness, or “subjectivity”. This “subjectivity principle” (SP) faces apparent counterexamples in the form of anomalous mental states claimed to lack self-consciousness entirely, such as “inserted thoughts” in schizophrenia and certain mental states in depersonalization disorder (DPD). However, Billon &amp; Kriegel (2015) have defended SP by arguing (inter alia) that while some of these mental states may be totally selfless, those states are not phenomenally conscious and thus do not constitute genuine counterexamples to SP.</p> <p>I argue that this defence cannot work in relation to certain experiences of ego dissolution induced by potent fast-acting serotonergic psychedelics. These mental states jointly instantiate the two features whose co-instantiation by a single mental state SP prohibits: (a) phenomenal consciousness and (b) total lack of self-consciousness.</p> <p>One possible objection is that these mental states may lack “me-ness” and “mineness” but cannot lack “for-me-ness”, a special inner awareness of mental states by the self. In response I propose a dilemma. For-me-ness can be defined either as containing a genuinely experiential component or as not. On the first horn, for-me-ness is clearly absent (I argue) from my counterexamples. On the second horn, for-me-ness has been defined in a way that conflicts with the claims and methods of its proponents, and the claim that phenomenally conscious mental states can totally lack self-consciousness has been conceded. I conclude with some reflections on the intuitive plausibility of SP in light of evidence from altered states.</p> 2020-03-24T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2020 Chris Letheby The varieties of selflessness 2020-06-09T10:27:36+02:00 Raphael Milliere <p>Many authors argue that conscious experience involves a sense of self or self-consciousness. According to the strongest version of this claim, there can be no<em> selfless states of consciousness</em>, namely states of consciousness that lack self-consciousness altogether. Disagreements about this claim are likely to remain merely verbal as long as the target notion of self-consciousness is not adequately specified. After distinguishing six notions of self-consciousness commonly discussed in the literature, I argue that none of the corresponding features is necessary for consciousness, because there are states of consciousness in which each of them is plausibly missing. Such states can be said to be at least <em>partially selfless,</em> since they lack at least one of the ways in which one could be self-conscious. Furthermore, I argue that there is also preliminary empirical evidence that some states of consciousness lack all of these six putative forms of self-consciousness. Such states might be <em>totally selfless</em>, insofar as they lack all the ways in which one could be self-conscious. I conclude by addressing four objections to the possibility and reportability of totally selfless states of consciousness.</p> 2020-03-24T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2020 Raphael Milliere Breaking the self 2020-06-10T10:07:25+02:00 Wanja Wiese <p>Are there logically possible types of conscious experience that are <em>nomologically impossible</em>, given independently justified assumptions about the neural underpinnings of consciousness in human beings? In one sense, this is trivial: just consider the fact that the types of perceptual experiences we can have are limited by our sensory organs. But there may be non-trivial types of conscious experience that are impossible. For instance, if there is a basic type of self-consciousness, corresponding to a phenomenal property that is nomologically necessary for consciousness, then experiences lacking this phenomenal property will be (nomologically) impossible. More generally, it may be that there are causal dependencies between the neural mechanisms that are required to instantiate distinct phenomenal properties (in human beings). If this is the case, instantiating one of these phenomenal properties without certain others may be impossible, which means there are non-trivial cases of nomologically impossible types of conscious experience. This paper clarifies this hypothesis, outlines a general methodology for its investigation, and relates it to research on radical disruptions of self-consciousness.</p> 2020-03-24T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2020 Wanja Wiese Radical disruptions of self-consciousness 2020-06-09T10:27:32+02:00 Raphael Milliere Thomas Metzinger <p>This special issue is about something most of us might find very hard to conceive: states of consciousness in which self-consciousness is radically disrupted or altogether missing.</p> 2020-03-24T00:00:00+01:00 Copyright (c) 2020 Raphael Milliere, Thomas Metzinger