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Authors: Wiese, Wanja
Title: The science of consciousness does not need another theory, it needs a minimal unifying model
Online publication date: 7-Sep-2020
Language: english
Abstract: This article discusses a hypothesis recently put forward by Kanai et al., according to which information generation constitutes a functional basis of, and a sufficient condition for, consciousness. Information generation involves the ability to compress and subsequently decompress information, potentially after a temporal delay and adapted to current purposes. I will argue that information generation should not be regarded as a sufficient condition for consciousness, but could serve as what I will call a “minimal unifying model of consciousness.” A minimal unifying model (MUM) specifies at least one necessary feature of consciousness, characterizes it in a determinable way, and shows that it is entailed by (many) existing theories of consciousness. Information generation fulfills these requirements. A MUM of consciousness is useful, because it unifies existing theories of consciousness by highlighting their common assumptions, while enabling further developments from which empirical predictions can be derived. Unlike existing theories (which probably contain at least some false assumptions), a MUM is thus likely to be an adequate model of consciousness, albeit at a relatively general level. Assumptions embodied in such a model are less informative than assumptions made by more specific theories and hence function more in the way of guiding principles. Still, they enable further refinements, in line with new empirical results and broader theoretical and evolutionary considerations. This also allows developing the model in ways that facilitate more specific claims and predictions.
DDC: 100 Philosophie
100 Philosophy
Institution: Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Department: FB 05 Philosophie und Philologie
Place: Mainz
Version: Published version
Publication type: Zeitschriftenaufsatz
License: CC BY
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Journal: Neuroscience of consciousness
Pages or article number: niaa013
Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press
Publisher place: Oxford
Issue date: 2020
ISSN: 2057-2107
Publisher URL:
Publisher DOI: 10.1093/nc/niaa013
Appears in collections:JGU-Publikationen

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