The Nature of Consciousness

Piero Scaruffi

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These are excerpts and elaborations from my book "The Nature of Consciousness"

The Performatory Mind

The US psychologist Richard Carlson thinks that mental representations must have a "performatory" character, they must have to do with our body, they must be about performing an action in the environment.

Most cognitive skills are not conscious, or non-conscious (e.g., understanding language). Most cognitive activity is routine. Consciousness is necessary only when learning the skill. After it has been learned, it quickly becomes routine, unconscious routine. Introspection is actually difficult for experts, who often cannot explain why they do what they do. Most of our cognitive activity comes from a specific kind of learning: skill acquisition. Consciousness has to do with acquiring cognitive skills, which in turn depend on experiencing the world.

Cognition is embodied and situated: it is always about our body and/or our environment. Symbols and the mental processes that operate on them are grounded in sensory-motor activity.

There is continuity between symbolic awareness and perceptual-enactive awareness because symbolic representation is “performatory”: it is useful precisely because it is about action; because symbols are grounded in action.


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