A new issue of respected online consciousness journal Psyche has just been published with a special issue on self-representation and consciousness.
The issue debates the idea that mental states are only conscious when they are structured both to represent a particular object of thought and themselves.
Take the ticking of a clock. The brain will support a mental representation of this sound, even when you’re not conscious of it.
The self-representation hypothesis argues that for the ticking to be consciously available, the mental representation must ‘describe’ both the sound, and itself (“I’m a mental state of a ticking clock”) so the rest of the conscious mind can access and manipulate it.
However, some have argued that this theory requires an infinite number of descriptions and redescriptions and so can’t be plausible.
The various articles in the issue are written by some of the most active philosophers of mind and make for fascinating reading.
By the way, the use of ‘iff’ in the introduction is not a typo, it’s a shorthand used by philosophers for if and only if.