Abstract: an investigation into the nature of consciousness

Hi! I am Lynette, and I am a sophomore here at the College of William and Mary. I am a philosophy and psychology double major, and I do hope that I could add in a third major Art. My main interest in philosophy is philosophy of mind, especially the topic of consciousness, and also aesthetics and philosophy of art. I’ve always wanted to apply my knowledge in physiological psychology to philosophical issues, so I guess the topic of consciousness in philosophy of mind is just the perfect match.

Philosophy of mind is a branch of philosophy that studies the nature of the mind and its relationship to the physical body, particularly the brain. One central issue in theorizing about the mind is the problem of consciousness. In order to understand our mind, we need a clear understanding of consciousness and its place in the world. We generally think of ourselves as experts on consciousness since as soon as we think it seems that we can be sure we are conscious, and we know what it is like to be conscious. But do we really know what consciousness is? Does it really exist, and how? How exactly does consciousness interact with the physical world? Though it appears that human consciousness and the brain’s neural network are closely related, currently science still cannot explain the emergence of conscious phenomenal experience. In the field of neuroscience and philosophy, this incomplete understanding of how consciousness depends upon a nonconscious,
physical substrate is referred as an explanatory gap. For my research, I will explore the nature of consciousness, and investigate how the explanatory gap is handled by several prominent theories of consciousness.