Thomas Metzinger wrote an outline of his book, ‘Being No One’, which puts his theory of consciousness in a very brief, compact form. He puts forward a list of constraints that any system must have to be conscious. The first three constrains gives a simple form of consciousness which he then elaborates with further constrains. Less than the first three will not produce conscious experience.
Constraint 1 is globality: all the contents of consciousness are found in the form of a single globally available integrated world-model. Constraint 2 is presence: the experience of consciousness is as a present ‘now’ in a flow of time. Our experience is being now in the world. Constraint 3 is transparency: consciousness does not include awareness of the process that created it; the mechanism is transparent.
the most elementary form of conscious experience conceivable: The presence of a world. The phenomenal presence of a world is the activation of a coherent, global model of reality (Constraint 1) within a virtual window of presence (Constraint 2), a model that cannot be recognized as a model by the system generating it within itself (Constraint 3)… Phenomenal selfhood … it is a function realized by a lack of information.We do not experience the contents of our self-consciousness as the contents of a representational process, but simply as ourselves, living in the world right now.
It is the transparency that makes the experience seem to be direct when it is very indirect. It does not feel like the ‘world’ is constructed; that the ‘now’ is constructed; that the ‘self’ is constructed.
Here is a philosopher that has successfully turned his back on introspection as a source of knowing about the nature of consciousness. I cannot state too strongly how satisfying this theory is to me. It fits so well with what I think about consciousness and I will return to it in future posts.
It is worth reading this precis but be warned this is a German philosopher writing in English and condensing an extremely long book. There are some hum-dingers of sentences.
Note: original link was wrong and has been corrected. Also, there is an alternative link in comment from helpful reader – thanks.
Thomas Metzinger (2005). Precis of – Being No One Psyche – An Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Consciousness, 11 (5)