Jonkisz Jakub
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45(2009)2 - Consciousness and the Subject

Jakub Jonkisz

Narrow, broad and extended understanding of subjectivity in the problem of consciousness

  • language: Polish


Subjectivity appears in the problem of consciousness by means of the old notion of qualia. This term, however, is far from being clear. In contemporary debates something is subjectively conscious when it is directly accessible only for the experiencing subject. This characteristic in terms of first-person access is best interpreted ontologically. Something is subjective if its existence is dependent on a particular experiencing subject. The range of this ontological subjectivity can differ in various approaches. Understanding of subjectivity is narrow when it is applied only to the conscious sensations and emotions, whereas wide subjectivity refers to everything what is mental or conscious in any sense. Probably subjectivity was never extended beyond its wide understanding, nevertheless this article should convince us, that it should be. Extended subjectivity is a property of all activities or actions of a given subject, not only conscious or mental ones. This notion brakes off with traditional mentalistic understanding of subjectivity and better suits to the contemporary, naturalistic cognitive science; it can also help us to avoid the hard problem with phenomenal consciousness and qualia. Such an extent of subjectivity is justified by certain empirical facts about subjects understood as living creatures. Each subject is in private relations with environment. All interactions with environment, other subjects and activities inside the subject create a unique cognitive system, unique on every level of its organization and dynamically changing all the time. If this is true, it also must be true that all actions of any given subject-system are unique as being determined by this system?s organization. This leads to the conclusion that all actions exist only as being acted by a particular subject which means that all actions are ontologically subjective.