The Mysteries of the Multiple Drafts Model
Erasmus Student Journal of Philosophy , Volume 9 p. 30- 38
The mind-body problem is one of the great mysteries. How are my feelings and thoughts related to the nerve cells of my brain? This question not only concerns scientists and philosophers, but everyone… for your consciousness seems very much bound up with who you are. In his book Consciousness Explained Daniel C. Dennett defends his grand theory of consciousness. It is an extraordinary book, in virtue alone of being read by both philosophers and the general audience. In this book Dennett presents us his Multiple Drafts model of consciousness. The Multiple Drafts model is an explanation of how our consciousness works. However, Dennett not only wishes to sketch the mechanisms of our consciousness, he also wants to show new ways of thinking about resolutions to the traditional mysteries of consciousness. This entails a critique on, according to Dennett, the mainstream view of the nature of consciousness; a view he calls Cartesian materialism. Cartesian materialism holds the assumption that there is some sort of ‘stage’ to which experiences present themselves to a ‘mind’s eye’, an internal viewer. Dennett calls this ‘stage’ the Cartesian Theater. He vehemently rejects this notion of consciousness as a Theater, for he thinks that this notion is illusionary and does not give us a correct picture of consciousness. When I discuss consciousness in this paper, I mainly talk about visual consciousness, namely the awareness and appearance of an external world through vision, following Dennett who introduces his model through a discussion of the visual system and keeps his discussion mainly limited to perceptual consciousness. In this paper, I argue that Dennett does not provide us with an explanation of consciousness. His model is based on a wrong characterization of our phenomenology and as a consequence he has to rely on the mysterious notion of probe in order to ‘explain’ phenomenal experience. Before I discuss Dennett’s Multiple Drafts theory, I first identify the position Dennett argues against: Cartesian materialism. Afterwards I will give a short note on his methodology. Then the Multiple Drafts model will be introduced through the Phi Phenomena. Subsequently, I shall look further into phenomenal consciousness itself. Two questions arise concerning Dennett’s Multiple Drafts theory: (1) How exactly is the content of our visual system created? And, (2) how do we form a unified, coherent conscious experience? Dennett has the problem that he cannot provide a satisfactory solution to these two questions. Both questions will be discussed in turn after which I conclude.
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Heijmeskamp, T. (2015). Dennett’s Drafters. Erasmus Student Journal of Philosophy, 9, 30–38. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/124764