Phenomenal Consciousness

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Phenomenal Consciousness

When Scientists first learned that they couldn't map neurons because there was too much individuality within even a single species, it seemed unlikely that a purely Functional approach to psychology would work. The Connectionist school started studying networks of neural models for clues to how the brain might work. From this study came the concept of Neural Networks, which died two or three times but kept being resurrected by scientists because it was necessary to model neural structures, even if the study was incomplete and the model was too simplistic to do the job.

Phenomenal Consciousness illustration


Finally Dr. Gerald M. Edelman a Nobel Laureate known for his work on non-genetic Darwinism in the immune system, suggested the Theory of Neural Group Selection(TNGS) which allowed Neural Modeling to go to a higher level to the point where he started building Brain Based Devices(BBDs) that modeled whole organs of the brain.


The Phenomenal Consciousness school came partly from Dr. Edelmans work, it is called phenomenal because it is the nature of neural networks that you cannot isolate a memory that is held within the network, because the information is distributed within the network and thus is a "Phenomena" of the network as a whole. This is why some philosophers have asserted that Phenomenal Systems are incapable of implementing a demand type memory.


There are a number of other branches in the Consciousness Studies school, that use phenomenal to mean something else. For these researchers sometimes phenomenal means epiphenomenal, the idea being that consciousness emerges from the neurons as a result of some other effect such as electrical fields that is a characteristic of the neurons. In this discussion phenomenal means the first definition rather than the second no matter what the illustration looks like.


The illustration labels phenomenal consciousness as being the "Hard Problem" of consciousness this is of course from the Functional point of view. The Phenomenal School is younger than the Functional school, and the philosophy of the Functional school tends to dominate philosophical discussion as a result. What is hard about understanding this school is not the philosophy, but the idea that Darwinism applies outside the boundaries of Genetic Biology

--Graeme E. Smith 23:33, 31 January 2009 (UTC)