by Paul Snowdon
REPLY TO SNOWDON
by Ted Honderich
These two papers are from Radical Externalism: Honderich's Theory of Consciousness Discussed -- a book of that title and also an issue of the Journal of Consciousness Studies, both edited by Anthony Freeman. Prof. Snowdon's paper is a response to the target paper by Prof. Honderich to which you can go, Radical Externalism, which introduces and summarizes the theory of consciousness.
Professor Honderich presents his account of consciousness boldly and informally, and his presentation merits a response in similar terms. I conceive of this response as simply the first move in a conversation, in the course of which misunderstandings might be removed and, just possibly, criticisms sharpened, and positions modified.
I want to concentrate on two questions that his very interesting paper prompts me to ask. The first question is; what exactly is the thesis about consciousness that Professor Honderich is proposing? The second question is; what are the main reasons he has for his proposal and are they persuasive? Although there are two questions, I shall mix considerations of them together in a way which I hope it is possible to follow.
Honderich divides the phenomenon of consciousness into three sorts, which he calls the perceptual, the reflective and the affective, or as he puts it, somewhat informally, ‘seeing, thinking and wanting’. [note 1] In considering what his positive thesis is, however, I want, for most of the time, to ignore the reflective and the affective, and to concentrate, as Honderich himself does, on what he calls the perceptual. The question then is; what is he claiming about that?
Before I try to answer the first question there are two observations I want to make about the threefold division of conscious states that Honderich proposes. (1) In one respect the list is not complete. If by the ‘perceptual’ Honderich means episodes which are genuinely perceptual, then the list leaves out what might be called non-perceptual sensory episodes. Hallucinations and dreaming are two examples. Many would also include what are sometimes called sensations, for example, migraines, toothaches, itches and aches. Since Honderich’s approach to perceptual cases is to think of them as involving what is there, for example, an actual page, that analysis cannot apply to, for example, hallucinations. He therefore leaves out and offers no analysis of an important category of conscious experience. (2) In the evidently informal list Honderich includes ‘wanting’. But although seeing and thinking (in the sense of occurrent thinking) are, or seem to be, types of experience, ‘wanting’ does not, in general, stand for an experience.  Thus, some people can want for twenty years to be millionaires, but there is no feature continuously before their consciousness which amounts to that desire. Again, I can recognize the onset of a form of consciousness, say a perception or a pain, but I have no conception how to recognize the onset of a desire. What kind of experience is it? Honderich’s list is, therefore, too broad.
What, though, is the theory? Honderich imagines that one of us, let us call him or her S, is seeing a page. About this occurrence he claims; ‘… this fact of consciousness necessarily was what it seemed to be, the state of affairs that was the page’s being there….’  Later he summarizes it by saying ‘perceptual consciousness consists in an external state of affairs …’  He also says; ‘… the theory does not take all of consciousness outside the cranium. It does not do so with all of reflective consciousnesses.’  But this implies it does so for perceptual consciousness.
So, as a first interpretation, let us read him as proposing an identity along these lines; S’s seeing the page is identical with the page’s being there. Now, the most natural way to understand the claim that something is there, say a statue, is simply that it exists at the place we mean by ‘there’. We thus can say; ‘This statue has been there for the last fifty years’. Or again, we can say; ‘There has never been a lamp post there’, and that means that at no time has a lamp post existed at that place. I want to assume then that in the theory talk of something’s being there is to be interpreted in this completely normal way. (The theory so understood has the form of a rather unusual psycho-physical identity thesis. The standard form identifies episodes of consciousness with events in the central nervous system of the subject.) I call this thesis Radical Externalism 1.
Radical Externalism 1 cannot, it seems, actually be true. The most obvious problem is that the page’s being there, that fact or state of affairs, understood as I have indicated it is most naturally understood, does not contain enough to amount to, to be the same as, the fact that S is seeing the page. Thus, the page can be there without S existing at all, or if we assume that S exists, without S’s being conscious, or without S’s being able to see the page, or without S’s looking in the right direction, and so on. It is, surely, quite obvious that the episode in S’s consciousness which is his seeing the page cannot simply be the same as the page’s being there (as normally understood).
The identity cannot obtain, but there is nothing wrong, of course, in saying that S’s seeing X involves or requires X’s being there. On anyone’s view, that is a requirement, but we no longer have an account of what the perceptual consciousness consists is, but merely the statement of an obvious entailment.
At this point, not withstanding the fact that the identity thesis certainly merits the name ‘radical externalism’ and also seems to fit some of Honderich’s remarks, there arises the question whether it actually corresponds to what he is trying to convey, and if it does not, what exactly it is that he is claiming. Having placed these questions on the table, and on the understanding that I shall shortly return to them, I want to voice some more criticisms of the identity thesis, doing so without any commitment to the thought that Honderich’s radical externalism is this identity thesis.
Let us suppose, then, that somebody did propose the identity thesis as an account of the nature of visual perceptual experience (that is, of seeing). What else might be said against this proposal? One problem with saying that S’s seeing X simply is X’s being there, is that, presumably, it should also be said that S’s hearing X is X’s being there, and that S’s feeling X is X’s being there. In these equivalences there is nothing which says what seeing X as opposed to feeling X or hearing X is. A second problem is this. S sees the page, and, of course, the page is there. But also between S and the page is a collection of oxygen atoms, a collection of carbon-dioxide molecules (and masses of other things), and where the page is there is also a large number of atoms, and sub-atomic particles, and so on. These are all there, but are not seen. The identity theory quite fails to explain why amongst the things there it is the page and not the rest that is seen, since all it says is that to be seen is to be there. Honderich can be read as briefly touching on this point. He says; ‘the physical world … consists in two categories: (1) things taking up space and time and also having other properties as standardly or publicly perceived …, and (2) things that also take up space and time, [and] are without perceived properties …’  What, we need to ask, does the difference between, on the one had, being there and having perceived properties and, on the other, being there and not having perceived properties, amount to? Clearly it is not a difference in respect of simply being there. Clearly, also, it is no theoretical clarification of what perceiving an object is to be offered the slogan that it is for the object to be there with perceived properties (or aspects).
Third, as well as the identity theory not explaining why the objects seen are the ones amongst those there which are seen, it also fails to explain, what we might call, the way the seen object is seen. Suppose (scene 1) S sees some water and a straight stick next to it. What is there is water and straight stick. The stick looks straight and next to the water. Next, (scene 2) suppose that S sees a straight stick in water. In scene 2 the stick looks bent, in scene 1 it does not. There is a difference in the perceptual situation which we express in our talk of how the stick looks. In both scenes, however, what is there is a straight stick. Thinking solely in terms of what is there does not provide any explanation for the difference it. We have to think of the perceptual occurrence as more complex than simply consisting of what is there.
Looking at these examples achieves two things, I want to suggest. The first is that we have located some of aspects of the phenomenon of perception which account for the existence of the vocabulary that we have to describe it. Thus we distinguish within the class of what is there between the visible and the invisible, within the class of the visible between what we do and do not actually see, and between the ways seen things look. The phenomenon has a complexity which requires the existence of such a vocabulary. The second is that as theorists of what perception is we are forced to recognize that the phenomenon cannot be reduced simply to the being there of what is there. Radical Externalism 1 is an externalism too far!
I want to return now to the question already tabled but postponed; what does Honderich’s Radical Externalism claim? If it is to be true, or close to the truth, it had better not be the Identity thesis, which I am calling Radical Externalism 1. There is another reason (besides that of giving Honderich the benefit of the doubt) to think that his Radical Externalism is a different claim. He says; ‘the page’s being there, and more generally your world of perceptual consciousness is things being in space and time, with such further properties as colour, and being dependent on a scientific or noumenal world underneath and also dependent on you neurally.’  Now, this sentence, crucial as it is, is hard to make sense of, since it seems to say that your world of perceptual consciousness is things being in space and time, or as I have been putting it, things being there, but it is also something dependent on your neural condition. These seem to be joint characterizations that are inconsistent. The problem is that the thing’s being there (for example, the page’s being there) does not depend on your neural condition. However, a consistent reading would that the state of affairs of your being perceptually conscious of some object, say the page, is something that involves the page’s being there and is also a state of affairs the obtaining of which depends on how you are neurally. [ 8]
Let us call this thesis Radical Externalism 2. I want to make a few remarks both about it and about its status as an account of what is being claimed. (1) Radical Externalism 2 leaves out, in particular, the claim that neurons or neuronal events are not components in consciousness. (This claim represents, I think, what Honderich sees as his rejection of standard materialism.) It does this because, apart from the ‘things that are there’, Radical Externalism 2 says of nothing else that it is, or that it is not, involved. It therefore fails to say something that Honderich wants to say. Perhaps, though, it says only things that he does want to say.
(2) Although not including that, Radical Externalism 2 does, it seems to me, (probably) fit two other claims that Honderich wants to make. He insists that radical externalism does not reduce to the claim that what is there is, simply, what we perceive (or are aware of). Plainly Radical Externalism 2 does not reduce to that. It does not do so because its claim that objects are involved in, are constituents of, the conscious occurrence, while possibly not entailing that these things are not objects of awareness certainly claims more than that. Second, he stresses that he is opposed to the idea that the occurrence of the perceptual sort of consciousness is something that has a sufficient condition in the subject’s brain. That would indeed seem to be correct if the conscious occurrence has external objects as constituents. 
(3) I need to say a little more about how I understand the claim that I am calling Radical Externalism 2. It needs to be distinguished from a thesis that no-one would dispute. The indisputable claim is that if a subject S is genuinely perceptually aware of a G then there is a G. For example, if I actually see an ape in front of me then there is an ape in front of me. In this respect seeing an object is like sitting on an object. I cannot do it unless the object is there. However, Radical Externalism 2 is not a thesis about what has to be there for seeing an object to count as occurring. It is, rather, a thesis about what the conscious occurrence, the experience considered in itself, involves or consists in. In putting it this way I am of course assuming that we understand this talk of what a conscious occurrence considered in itself consists of. Some claim not to understand it, but I shall simply assume that we do. Now, one view is that the conscious experience itself involved in sighting an object is something that is only causally related to the object and that it happens inside the subject. Radical Externalism 2 denies this and claims instead that the experience considered in itself cannot be separated from the perceived object. Now, this is not a new thesis. It has some claim to be what the defenders of naïve realism in the philosophy of perception were claiming. It also has some claim to be what so-called Appearance theorists mean to say when they affirm that the most basic characterization possible of perceptual experience is that it consists of an object’s appearing to the subject. Finally, it is what some current theorists who call themselves disjunctivists seem to be claiming about perceptual experience. I suppose that this confers some degree of respectability on Radical Externalism 2. I am myself sympathetic to this idea, but for me the interest in Professor Honderich’s discussion is whether he provides new and strong reasons to believe it. The next remarks turn to that question.
(4) Honderich’s fundamental positive argument relies on a principle that he formulates in various ways. One formulation is this; ‘With respect to consciousness, there is no difference between appearance and reality’.  The immediately following formulation is; ‘with consciousness, what there seems to be is what there is’.  I want to concentrate on the latter proposition and shall call it the Positive Seems Principle (PSP).  He then claims, and this is the second premise in his argument, that when, for example, you see a page it seems that your consciousness consists in the page being there. It therefore follows, given PSP, that in such a case what it does consist in is the page’s being there.
It seems to me that both premises in this argument are questionable. Whether the second premise is true is a rather delicate issue. The delicate issue is this; although about the case that Honderich is envisaging, in which S sees a page, and, as we might add, the page appears to be a page, so there is no question for S about its being anything but a page, we can certainly say that it seems to S that there is a page, and also that it seems to S that that (seen) item is a page, can we with truth also say it seems to S that S’s consciousness consists in the page’s being there? A doubt at least can be generated by comparing how such a subject would (probably) react to two questions. Suppose that we asked S; what seems to you to be there in front of you? In the imagined circumstances S would unhesitatingly answer; it seems to me there is a page. Suppose, however, that we asked instead; what does it seem to you that your consciousness consists of? I suggest that such a question would not elicit any quick response in a typical subject, indeed, it would in all likelihood puzzle or silence them. Yet, if it does manifestly seem to them in undergoing the experience that their consciousness consists of the page’s being there, why should they hesitate? We might further ask why the question should have such a silencing effect. Moving faster at this point than I am entitled to, I want to suggest that the difficulty is that in undergoing the perceptual experience of seeing the page there is no such item as the subject’s consciousness (or the subject’s experience) which seems (or appears) some way to the subject. One way to support this suggestion is to ask of the subject’s consciousness which supposedly seems some way to the subject where does it seem to be. It surely cannot be said that the consciousness seems to be in the space ahead, where the page seems to be. Nor can it be said that the consciousness seems to be inside. How then can the consciousness seem to consist of something in particular if there is nowhere it seems to be so that its constitution can be revealed? Neither the subject’s experience nor the subject’s consciousness presents itself to the subject in such a way that it can seem to have a certain constitution. Any conceptually sophisticated and mildly reflective subject will, of course, know that he or she is conscious and having an experience, and so count as being aware of their consciousness in that sense, (in the way, I might provocatively add) that someone who has been told about an approaching hurricane is aware of the hurricane), but amongst the items seeming one way or another to the subject in the course of the episode the subject’s consciousness itself does not figure.
I have been making a case for denying that the subject’s consciousness itself seems to consist of something. However, the case has not been conclusively made, and I do not think that what I have provided would move someone who is strongly convinced that the consciousness does seem to consist of the external object. What, then, of PSP? Here it seems to me the case against is much stronger. Consider the example of a perfect hallucination of a gigantic pink rat. Clearly this is an episode of consciousness in which it seems to the subject that there is a pink rat ahead, but where there actually is no such pink rat. We certainly cannot say, then, that with conscious episodes what there seems to be is what there is. Consider also the case of illusions. If you see a Muller-Lyer diagram it seems that there are two lines of unequal length, but in fact there are no such lines. It might be replied that the relevant principle concerns how the consciousness itself seems to be, and so these are not counter-examples. However, this cannot be true either. If when I see a large pink elephant the consciousness seems to me to consist of a pink elephant then when I am having a large pink rat hallucination it will equally seem to me to consist of a large pink rat. Clearly, though, the hallucinatory episode cannot consist of that, there being no pink rat to do the constituting. I conclude that we cannot rely on PSP to support a theory of perceptual consciousness.
(5) I have so far discussed the idea that consciousness must be as it seems. But Honderich seems to subscribe to a further principle as well. He says; ‘With consciousness, what there seems to be is what there is. What there seems to be is all there is.’  The principle that I have in mind is the principle expressed in the last quoted sentence. I do not quite know what it means but one possible reading is; an episode of consciousness only has a property P if it seems in undergoing it to be P. Crucially this implies that if it is not the case that the episode seems to be P then the episode is not P. I call therefore call this the Negative Seems Principle (NSP).  I do not know if Professor Honderich thinks this, but I wish to explain why he should not.
Note first that if NSP is true then one property that episodes of consciousness possess is fulfilling NSP. According to NSP such an episode can possess this property only if it seems to. A proponent of NSP must claim therefore that each episode of consciousness seems to fulfill NSP. I suggest that this is obviously false. When I have a pain it does not seem to me that the episode has no other properties beyond those it seems to have. The episode hardly indicates such a metaphysical feature to me. So the condition which NSP imposes for being true of consciousness does not apply to NSP. Second, there are obvious counterexamples. My pain can be improved by taking paracetamol. It does not seem so. The episode of phantom limb pain does not take place in the limb (because there is no limb) but elsewhere. It does not seem to of course. Third, since Honderich believes that dualism is false then if he subscribes to NSP he must believe that each episode seems not to involve a spiritual substance. How odd that dualism should be so popular. Honderich himself seems to think that perceptual consciousness depends on how the subject is neurally. But does it seem so?
We should be skeptical of both PSP and NSP, and not rely on them in developing a theory of consciousness.
I have argued, assuming that Radical Externalism 2 is something that Honderich is claiming, that what I read as his main reason for it is unpersuasive because it relies on PSP, which is not true. I want now to engage with a second interesting theme in his account, which, as I said earlier, Radical Externalism 2 leaves out. This is the theme, revealed early in the paper, that consciousness should be conceived of as not having any ‘neurons in it’ and as not having ‘your visual cortex in it’.  I suspect that Honderich regards these conclusions as a rejection of the currently dominant materialist accounts of consciousness, and as, therefore, of some significance.
I want to argue both that no good reasons are presented for refusing to speak as the materialists do, and that if his reasons, or reasons like them, were good ones the conclusion should be regarded as relatively unimportant to the metaphysics of consciousness.
What are the reasons? What might be his first reason is that if we say that ‘your visual cortex [is a] part’ of seeing the page then it follows that ‘there is more to seeing the page then your consciousness of it.’  Now, a problem we face in understanding this argument is to know why saying this is wrong or objectionable. One possible reason might be that it is paradoxical, or close to paradoxical, to say there is more to seeing than being conscious of the page. Honderich himself seems to think that the problem with this consequence is not so much that it is paradoxical as that ‘our ordinary assumption is that your visual cortex was no part of your being conscious …’ 
The second reading of the argument leaves it with a rather disappointing status. Does it convincingly show that a philosopher’s claim is wrong if it is contrary to an ordinary assumption? Honderich, who later emphasizes the revisionary nature of his own theory, can hardly think so.
Can the argument be sustained on the first reading? If Honderich has in mind as his target standard materialists then it is worthwhile pointing out that they do not normally say that the neuron itself was part of the sighting; rather, they might claim that the sighting is an event a part of which was a happening in the neuron. Would it follow from this that there is more to a sighting than the consciousness? If it does follow is that paradoxical? According to my brief characterization the materialist thinks that the occurrence of the sighting has as a part the neuronal event. This is like saying that part of my apple is a certain pip, which can hardly imply that there is more to my apple than my apple. It does imply that there is more to know about my apple than simply that it is an apple. So the materialist must accept that there is more to know about a sighting than that is it a sighting. Why, though, should we reject a position which implies that? Honderich might reply by appealing to NSP. However, I have already argues against that.
Honderich adds some further observations. The first is that since dualists deny that consciousness involves brain events and we can understand their claim then ‘talk of your consciousness has to be understood as not itself talk of your brain’.  Such early psycho-physical identity theorists as Smart and Place explained to us the way through this puzzle. The materialist claim is that the referent of ‘my sighting’ is that conglomeration of neural events, not that the meaning of ‘my sighting’ is to be given in neural terms. Rather they offered what they called topic-neutral analyses of mental talk. Honderich adds that people talk of correlations between mind and brain, as if this establishes their separateness. Smart and Place saw through this too. I can ask one person to check whether the man with pink shoes is at a series of parties and another to check whether the person with a yellow tie is, and maybe a perfect correlation is established. Why? It is the same person! You can therefore do what might be described, admittedly in a rather short-hand form of words, as correlating a thing with itself.
Suppose, however, that it is wrong to say that my sighting can have other, possibly unknown, events as parts. It would then follow that materialists should not say that sightings have neural events as parts, but also that dualists should not say that sightings have immaterial events as parts. This would merely mean that we need to re-express the issue between them in some suitably conceptually hygienic way. One possible way, or perhaps better, the sketch of one possible way, is this. Call one of us who sees a page S. Suppose we construct a physical replica of S, call this thing SR. We then generate in SR in the same physical circumstances the same physical processes as are going in S. Is it possible for SR to lack consciousness? Materialists might be thought of as those who claim it is not possible, and anti-materialists as those who think it is possible. Posing the issue this way makes no commitment to supposing that sightings can have unknown parts. It does require that episodes of consciousness can have unknown modal properties, but what has ruled that out? Maybe there is a problem with this way of posing the issue. However, we are a long way from having been given reasons for suspecting the traditional issue is beyond formulation.
How does this approach relate to Radical Externalism 2? The answer is that Radical Externalism 2 is not alien to materialism. The issue it raises is (or seems to be) just how extensive are the physical constituents of perceptual experience. There is no conflict.
I have argued that Professor Honderich’s anti-materialism is not well supported, and that if Radical Externalism 2 is what he is affirming he provides no strong reason for doing so. The question I want to close with is; is Honderich’s Radical Externalism actually version 2? I am strongly inclined to suspect it is not. Two passages in particular indicate this. First, Honderich says; ‘A world of perceptual consciousness is not the physical world … there is not much liberty in speaking of there being page in both a world of perceptual consciousness and in the perceived physical world, and indeed in referring to each as a page.’  This is not what a Radical Externalist 2 would say. There are not two pages; the perceptual episode involves the actual physically real page. Honderich’s picture is evidently different. But what then is it? If the page the existence of which is the perceptual consciousness of the page is a different sort of thing from the physically real page, what sort of thing is it? What sort of existence does it, as opposed to the physical page, have? In particular, can it, the page in consciousness, exist without consciousness? The second passage that attracts my attention is where Honderich describes his theory as ‘conceptual revision even reconstruction – conceptual revolution if you are being grand’.  This is not what one would say about Radical Externalism 2, which can be seen as a form of naïve realism! What then is the conceptual revolution? I confess then that I have to end with an expression of bafflement. In distancing himself from Radical Externalism 2, as I think he does, Professor Honderich is moving himself to a place I do not properly understand and in relation to which I would welcome more elucidation.
The thought might be voiced that in not properly understanding his conclusion my remarks about Honderich’s arguments must also be wrong. But about them I have claimed that they contain false premises and that might be fair even if I have failed to understand the intended conclusions. 
Relevant papers by Snowdon Snowdon
'Perception, Vision and Causation' available in Perceptual Knowledge ed J. Dancy, OUP 1988 pp 192 - 208
'The Objects of Perceptual Experience' in Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supp. Vol. 1990, pp 121-150
'The Formulation of Disjunctivism: A Response to Fish' in Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 2004-5 Vol CV pp 129 - 142
'On Formulating Materialism and Dualism' in (ed) J. Heil Cause, Mind and Reality (Essays Honouring C. B. Martin) Kluwer Academic Press 1989 pp 137-158
'Strawson's Agnostic Materialism' in Philosophy and Phenomenologica Research Vol LVIII No 2 1998 pp 455-460
1 Honderich, Ted, (2006) Radical Externalism p.3
2 Occurrent thinking as the form of experience that we know is possible because we are able to control certain inner types of experiences, which we might call imagery. How we exercise control is, of course, very hard to say.
3 Honderich 2006 p. 3
4 Honderich 2006 p. 6
5 Honderich 2006 p.5
6 Honderich 2006 p. 3
7 Honderich 2006 p. 3
8 As we might say, the ‘is’ in ‘your world of perceptual consciousness is the thing being in space and time’ is the ‘is’ of ‘is in part’.
9 I discuss some issues connected with the idea of brain states as sufficient conditions for perceptual consciousness in ‘Reflections on a Causal Argument’, forthcoming in Philosophical Topics 2006.
10 Honderich 2006 p.2
11 Honderich 2006 p. 2
12 In a semi-formal way PSP can be formulated; (Ae) (e is an experience & Seems (F(e)) F(e)).
13 Honderich 2006 p. 2. I have inserted the italics.
14 In a semi-formal presentation it says; (Ae) (e is an experience & not Seems (F(e)) not (F(e))). Putting PSP and NSP together we get; (Ae) (e is an experience (F(e) > Seems (F(e))).
15 Both quotations from Honderich 2006 p.1.
16 Honderich 2006 p. 1.
17 Honderich 2006 p.1
18 Honderich 2006 p.1
19 Honderich 2006 pp 3-4.
20 Honderich 2006 p.6
21 I wish to thank Professor Honderich and the editor of the journal for their invitation to be a respondent to the paper, and for their patience in waiting for it!
REPLY TO SNOWDON
by Ted Honderich
Paul Snowdon's paper is as formidable as any in this collection. Will Radical Externalism survive my thinking about his objections in the course of replying to them? Will the conversation he speaks of beginning be discomfiting for Radical Externalist?
He begins by wondering if perceptual consciousness, as I understand it, includes what he calls non-perceptual sensory episodes, such as hallucinations and dreams, and maybe sensations, migraines, toothaches, itches and aches. He rightly answers his question, partly, when he says that perceptual consciousness for me cannot include hallucinations, whatever my earlier taxonomic intuition may have been as a result of the salient similarity of hallucinations to seeing real things. About the importance of hallucinations and dreams to the subject of consciousness, we do not much agree. I take it a good account of perceptual and other consciousness has to measure up to a lot more than demands having to do with pink rats and bent sticks in water.
We definitely do not agree that Radical Externalism leaves out and offers no analysis of his non-perceptual sensory episodes -- it can treat of hallucinations in terms of reflective and affective consciousness. So with dreaming. That both of these things are similar to seeing, that they are with some reason called non-perceptual sensory episodes, indicates that reflective consciousness has a little more in it than first comes to mind. It has in it thinking and making mistakes about representations in that consciousness rather than what they are about. But our aim in life can't be to make things simpler than they are.
As for the other items on his list, the sensations, migraines and so on, they have not had a lot of attention from me, but I will not be rushing to include them in perceptual consciousness, of which the paradigm is indeed visual consciousness. Affective consciousness is importantly a matter of feelings, and thus is the category that comes to mind for the sensations and the rest.
Snowdon also wonders about whether wanting, also taken by me to be important in affective consciousness, is rightly put into a third category or type alongside perceptual and reflective consciousness. There seems to me no adequate objection to including it in the fact that a want in the sense of an occurring experience is not, as he of course says, before someone's consciousness continuously. So what if there is another kind of want, so-called, that is continuous? That neural disposition is no part of our subject. As for recognizing the onset of a desire, it seems to me I often do, to the minute, and can give you an idea of how I do. But, more important, any problems here do not establish that the category of affective consciousness has too much in it. It doesn't, so far as I can see.
What exactly is Radical Externalism? That is the first of two main questions Snowdon puts in front of us, the other being about an argument for it.
Certainly the theory does not merely imply, as he says, but rather asserts, that some consciousness isn't cranial. Snowdon's first proposal as to what the theory comes to is labelled as Radical Externalism 1. It makes use, so surprisingly, of what he calls the most natural or completely normal idea of something's being there, existing -- not an idea of being there or existing in a way. His proposal, in my words, is as follows.
Radical Externalism 1: Someone's being perceptually conscious is identical with external things being in places for certain times.
He says, as you might expect, that what we have here is a psycho-physical identity thesis, if an unusual one -- since saying something is in space and time, as he does, with no more said, does indeed convey that it exists physically, or just that it is physical, part of the physical world. So what we have here, in Radical Externalism 1, is that your being perceptually conscious is for an extra-cranial world to exist, which is to say for part of the physical world to exist.
Snowdon now takes the trouble to assert that it seems that Radical Externalism 1 cannot be true. Indeed it can't, first of all in that a page can be there in this sense without anyone being conscious. End of theory. He not only takes the theory to be false for this good and unavoidable reason, however, but also partly for a different bad reason. It is no good saying that the state of affairs identified with being perceptually conscious in Radical Externalism 1 is under-described because it does not contain all that there is in seeing the page, where that is broadly understood to have more in it than somebody's being conscious of the page -- say the person's head being oriented in the right direction. You may remember that we settled on the subject of consciousness itself, rather than all of what it is to see something, at the very start (p. 00), and indeed Snowdon himself registers the fact later (p. 00).
But Radical Externalism 1 is absolutely definitely not Radical Externalism. After all, back there at the start, there was that declaration: 'A world of perceptual consciousness is not the physical world' (p. 00). There were the following lines in which a world of perceptual consciousness, things of course in space and time, were distinguished in terms of their way or kind of existence (p. 00, 3g). They were then explicitly distinguished despite a similarity -- both not being 'mental' -- from the perceived part of the physical world (p. 00).
It may be that the misunderstanding that Radical Externalism 1 might be Radical Externalism is my fault -- that the real theory was not so sharply sketched as I hoped -- despite the sketch including things that Snowdon himself takes as telling against the idea that Radical Externalism is Radical Externalism 1 (p. 00 3c, p. 00 7e-8a). Could it be, too, that the novelty of the theory is itself a barrier to practiced philosophers of mind? I hope its fate isn't progress from novelty taken as blunder to familiarity taken as nearly as bad. You will learn soon that that fate is discerned, even declared.
Snowdon now offers three further objections to the psycho-physical identity theory that is Radical Externalism 1. Might they also be objections to Radical Externalism in his second understanding of it? We can usefully get that second understanding on the table right now. He depends on a quoted sentence of mine, and we can suppose he takes this theory to be as follows.
Radical Externalism 2: Someone's being perceptually conscious is identical with things being in space and time external to the person, with such further properties as colour, and being dependent on a scientific or noumenal world underneath and also on the person neurally.
Snowdon contemplates for a passing moment that this is just inconsistent, partly by way of his eliding being in space and time with being there in the sense of being physical. Better, he contemplates that Radical Externalism 2 is inconsistent because something's being in space and time is not dependent on how somebody is neurally. He then thinks again and allows the possibility, as he certainly needs to, that the theory is consistent since it does not assert that the things being in space and time, that particular fact about them, is dependent on the person neurally -- it can be something else about them that is neurally dependent.
I am happy enough with Radical Externalism 2 as a statement of Radical Externalism in so far as that theory concerns perceptual consciousness, but feel the need to add a relevant confession.
It is that Radical Externalism has not come complete with a contained theory of space and time. More particularly, it has not got into the question of whether or rather to what extent exactly the spatial and temporal facts of something, a world of perceptual consciousness, are owed to a particular person. It hs not got into the different question, either, of whether and to what extent exactly the spatial and temporal facts of something else, the physical world, are owed to to all of us humans, or some of us engaged in understanding and interacting with that world. It leaves all that to Kant, Newton, Leibniz and successors.
The theory will be better when somebody does get into the question of space and time in the context of the theory. That, as you will gather it also seem to me, has not been absolutely essential so far. What has been essential is that there is a distinction between those two human dependencies, which certainly there is -- and hence a distinction that leaves clear the conception of things being in space and time in a certain way, a world of perceptual consciousness, as against the physical world or a part of it.
Let us now look at the application, to what I shall just speak of as Radical Externalism rather than Radical Externalism 2, of the three further objections made to the obviously false Radical Externalism 1.
One is that the given general account of perceptual consciousness does not itself supply a distinction between the consciousness in seeing something and the consciousness in hearing something. That is true, and maybe the hearing is harder to deal with than the seeing, but no reason is given for thinking that some consistent detail is impossible in the given general account. As for the consciousness of feeling something, in what seems to be the intended sense, that does not fall here at all, as you have heard.
The second objection to Radical Externalism 1 as it was stated -- look back at the statement -- is another one fatal to it, close to the first fatal one that was unavoidable. It is that there are lots of spatio-temporal things, here meaning physical things, external to the person, and these in no way enter into the person's consciousness. Say a collection of oxygen atoms between him or her and a page. But there is no objection to the real Radical Externalism here. The collection of oxygen atoms is not dependent neurally on the person and so is not something of which the person is conscious according to the theory.
The third objection, applied to the real Radical Externalism, and in brief, is that it does not given an account of a straight stick's looking bent in water. It is true that Radical Externalism has not much attended to this staple illusion (p. 00). Snowdon does not show it to be true in advance that it cannot do so with tolerable success. It might get some help, I suppose, from whatever turns up at this point in the disjunctive theory of perception, of which Snowdon is a principal owner. We will be coming back to this neighbourhood.
Now come up again to where we were, with Radical Externalism well enough stated, i.e. as Radical Externalism 2, and what Snowdon has to say about it.
Comment (1) would apply only to some poorer statement of the theory -- one that leaves it open that your consciousness ordinarily includes the things in space and time that are your neurons. The theory definitely doesn't include that bit of materialism.
Comment (2), which has to do with Radical Externalism's not being circular, doesn't seem to take matters further.
Comment (3) attempts to take matters further, pretty dramatically, and needs more attention. It proceeds, by the way, from Snowdon's assuming, as against other unidentified persons, that we do understand talk of a conscious occurrence sufficiently well in order to carry forward this conversation. That is reassuring, if to my mind a remarkable understatement of our grip on our subject-matter, the central and as good as universally agreed subject-matter of the philosophy of mind.
In comment (3), to come to it, Snowdon speaks of Radical Externalism as denying that conscious perceptual experience happens inside a person and is only causally related to an external object. Radical Externalism, he says,
'claims instead that the experience considered in itself cannot be separated from the perceived object. Now, this is not a new thesis. It has some claim to be what the defenders of naive realism in the philosophy of perception were claiming. It also has some claim to be what so-called Appearance theorists mean to say when they affirm that the most basic characterization possible of perceptual experience is that it consists of an object’s appearing to the subject. Finally, it is what some current theorists who call themselves disjunctivists seem to be claiming about perceptual experience' (p. 00).
Despite the guarded language, this really comes as really a surprise to me.
Naive realism, which I take it turns up as itself, more or less unaltered since about 1932, as one of the two either-or halves of disjunctivism (p. 00 me), the half about perception as against hallucinations, has in my reading of it has always been a little vague. It has been a little vague in characterizing something it takes to be within perceptual consciousness and definitely is not what it calls the object of the consciousness -- not an external object. Something the same is true of most opposed theories or sorts of theory of perceptual consciousness, with internal objects.
I mean that both theories or sorts of theory speak of perceptual consciousness as being (1) awareness, apprehension, sensing, non-inferential connection, perceiving, directedness-at, intentionality, aboutness or whatever with respect to (2) external or internal objects. That these usages are a little vague does not make what they designate other than proper parts of the theories.
The internalist theories in particular are always advanced and characterized as giving a particular account of our awareness or whatever of external objects: that it is an awareness mediated or made indirect by internal objects -- sense-data or whatever. Naive realism has always been advanced and characterized as subtracting or denying the internal object, not subtracting both such an object and also any relation in consciousness to the remaining external object.
Do you wonder if naive realism's talk of awareness, apprehension, sensing, perceiving, directedness-at or whatever can be heard and construed as not about anything that is within our consciousness -- heard and construed as putting within our consciousness only an object, say a physical page? Well, that has never been explicit, and so, at the very least, it is certainly false to say Radical Externalism is old-hat in the sense of having had an explicit antecedent. But that is not what mainly is to be said about the idea that Radical Externalism is just naive realism.
Remember, as cannot conceivably be denied, that naive realism indubitably characterizes perceptual consciousness itself in terms of exactly a physical object. It is thereby already different indeed from Radical Externalism -- a world away, you could say. Remember too, and I trust conclusively, that naive realism if it is taken as reducing its account of an episode of perceptual consciousness to just the existence of a physical object, is absurd. Not all physical objects are in somebody's perceptual consciousness. Remember, finally, that it is clear that naive realism can be taken as consistent with devout physicalism -- one of the two main things that Radical Externalism, to say the least, is not.
It is impossible for me to think, then, that Radical Externalism can be assigned the fate of really being the thin old broth of naive realism, not even warmed up.
The world being the imperfect place it is, with deadlines in it, I cannot acquaint myself with those who are named Appearance Theorists by Snowdon. I can remark that they do not sound like Radical Externalists. They are reported as meaning to say that the most basic characterization of perceptual consciousness is that it consists of an object's appearing to the person. I take it the appearing isn't the object, whether or not an appearing requires what it seems to require, which is an appearance. Those are items that it is the very nature of Radical Externalism to leave out.
Still more reminders could be offered of the difference of the thing that is Radical Externalism from naive realism etc., starting with the criteria of adequacy and the subjectivity of worlds of perceptual consciousness and so on. Maybe some of this is in Snowdon's own disjunctivism, but I rather doubt it. In any case, you may hurry to agree that I have already taken a little far my desire to get a hearing rather than an obituary for Radical Externalism, not to mention taken a little far my own amour-propre.
What matters more, as Snowdon implies, is what can be said for Radical Externalism as against other theories of consciousness. He turns his attention at this stage (p. 00) to his other main question, the argument for it that was put in at the start of my piece beginning this collection of writings. It is important, if not more fundamental than other things.
The argument in its first premise was that your consciousness itself, all of it, is something you have, something clear to you, something present to you, immediate. With respect to consciousness itself, to say the same thing differently, there is no difference between appearance and reality. The second premise of the argument was that your being perceptually conscious of something seems to amount to the thing's somehow existing.
Snowdon first questions the second premise. He says that when you are perceptually conscious of this page, there sure seems to you to be a page there. But you're just puzzled or silenced if, as he should go on to say, somebody puts it to you that what your consciousness seems to you to consist in is some kind of existence of the page.
Well, Snowdon and I disagree about this, and we can leave it to you -- maybe you as a better judge for being a typical philosopher, scientist or the like rather than just a typical subject, maybe not good a kind of undistracted thinking. We can also leave it to you to agree or not if somebody else puts it to you that your consciousness seems to you to consist instead in a container of some kind with some content in it, maybe sense-data, or consists in a kind of arrow flying at something. Or a bunch of neurons, or some stuff that isn't anywhere.
Snowdon attempts to explain and therefore to make more likely what he supposes, that you are puzzled or silenced by my prompting that what it seems to you to be conscious of the room is for a room somehow to exist. His explanation of your supposed bafflement consists partly in his assigning to you a reluctance to regard your being conscious of something as an item -- your being conscious as an item. I agree you probably have that reluctance. Being conscious isn't much like a pound of butter.
But do I not rightly do you as much credit in assigning to you a willingness to regard your being conscious as your having a property, or there being a fact or state of affairs pertaining to you? There is nothing in that attitude that gets in the way of your agreeing with the Radical Externalist proposal about what your being visually conscious of something seems to consist in.
And, to press on with Snowdon's explanation of your supposedly being puzzled or silenced, do you really suppose, as Snowdon seems to propose, that the state of affairs, say, of your being conscious, is nowhere? Isn't any state of affairs where the main thing or things in it are? And does a state of affairs -- say a world of perceptual consciousness -- have to have exact and settled boundaries in order to be somewhere? In which case many wars, plays on and behind stages and a lot else are nowhere.I agree we have hesitations about conscousness and space, but not enough for Snowdon's purposes. and in fact they can be taken to tell in the direction of Radical Externalism (2004, 184-5)
He allows in sum that he has not made a conclusive case against the second premise in the argument for Radical Externalism -- that it seems to us that our perceptual experience consists of there being a certain external state of affairs. It strikes me that he has more reason for this self-doubt about his case than he supposes.
The first premise of the argument for Radical Externalism, now to turn to it, in my quoted lines, was that 'consciousness is something we have' (p. 00 1g), that 'with respect to consciousness there is no difference between appearance and reality. With consciousness, what there seems to be is what there is' (p. 00 2e). Snowdon is not specific but he first takes this, I gather, as something like the following named thing.
Positive Seems Principle: What there seems to be in consciousness is what in the natural or normal idea there is -- if something seems to be, in consciousness, it exists. The seeming is sufficient for the existing.
He also contemplates, I gather, that the the first premise is something else.
Negative Seems Principle: What there seems to be in consciousness is all there is in the natural or normal sense -- if something doesn't seem to be in consciousness, it doesn't exist. The seeming is necessary for the existing.
I'm surprised again. Surprised to hear myself saying so, but it really seems that you find out what the first of those mouthfuls comes to when Snowdon refutes it, to his very proper satisfaction, by citing somebody's hallucination of a gigantic pink rat. The refutation, more particularly, is that there isn't a gigantic pink rat there in the room in front of the poor fellow. There isn't a physical rat there.
That refutation assumes an understanding of the first principle that commits somebody who holds it to the conclusion not only are that there no hallucinations as ordinarily understood, which is bad enough, but no false beliefs in human life either. Also no misdescriptions of things, no mistakes, no self-deceptions and so on. In short, the principle as undrstood would have us believe that all of what are called contents of consciousness, including all beliefs, are true.
You learn what the second mouthful comes to when Snowdon refutes it by noting, among other things, that it isn't part of what your conscious pain seems to you to be that it can be affected by paracetemol, but it can be. The pain is affected. Snowdon also refutes the Negative Seems Principle by noting that it it were true, my passages of thinking about spiritualism, where it seems to me that consciousness doesn't involve a spiritual substance, would in themselves somehow refute the spiritualism.
Well, something has gone awfully wrong. It's a good thing that this is only the first exchange in a longer conversation. Whatever my quoted lines come to, they can't usefully come to this stuff. I take it Snowdon will do me the small compliment, however quick my lines were, of allowing that you have to try to find another way of understanding them. I pay him the compliment of having got to me to try to think some more, making myself more explicit and distinguishing two kinds of givenness.
To leave close consideration of his paper, my past idea and hope in a nutshell was to use a general proposition about our having all our consciousness in order to put together a general argument for your perceptual consciousness being some existence of a world, not neurons or an inner theatre of the spirit, and of course to put together the general argument without getting committed to the existence of gigantic pink rats. Also, for success with the argument, if it involved demoting the hallucination to reflective and maybe affective consciousness, essentially demoting it to false belief, there would have to be some way of avoiding demoting perceptual consciousness. That is, there would have be some way of keeping the seeming nature of a piece of perceptual consciousness from falling to the level of the hallucination -- being no evidence or indicator of any reality. Some way of keeping a world of perceptual consciousness from collapsing into just belief or whatever in a head. Some way of defending the essence of Radical Externalism.
The idea and hope was preceded by something else, by the way, which is worth spending a minute or two on before we go ahead. It will have a greater role and value depending on how the idea and hope turns out on further reflection. It is that you can actually go some way towards Oscar Wilde's general view that it is only shallow people who do not judge things by their appearances. That is, you can contemplate the general idea that when you have not got a lot to go on with respect to the question of the nature of something, you'll rightly attend to its apparent nature -- say a plant or an animal unprecedented in your experience.
What about consciousness? Do we have a lot to go on, a lot of information, evidence or the like about its nature? Well, we know a lot about its connection with the physical world and hence its beginning, alteration and ending. But although we have a grip on the fact of our consciousness we haven't had much of an analysis of it, if any.
I suspect that what has made devout physicalism the most hopeless cause among reflective persons since the 17th Century and Hobbes, and what drives seemingly devout physicalists to hopeless stratagems of one kind and another, is indeed a need to judge consciousness by its appearance. The need also results, I can suppose, to come to the main point, in support for Radical Externalism's account of perceptual and indeed reflective and affective consciousness.
But return now from a general policy about anything's apparent nature, and hence the nature of consciousness, to what is certainly distinct, the idea and hope relevant only to consciousness. As already remarked, I have felt the need to try to think again about this as a result of Snowdon's piece in particular but also those of Harold Brown, Tim Crane, James Garvey, Jonathan Lowe, Derek Matravers, Snowdon Noordhof, Stephen Priest and Barry Smith. Must have been a plot.
With respect to all of consciousness -- perceptual, reflective and affective -- we can surely stick to the point that there is a sense in which it is had by or given to whoever or whatever is in question. It is present, immediate, not a matter of judgement or inference. There is nothing in or to your consciousness itself, no part of it, that is not had by or given to you in this way. There seems to be, maybe must be, some sense in which statements to oneself about one's consciousness itself, as against what it is about, are true. (Stephen, you will remember, says otherwise (p. 00) and his argument will have to be dealt with.) Does conviction this have to be qualified a little to allow for confused consciousness? I doubt it. The confusion too is there.
Certainly what is had or given in this way, to repeat, is not what consciousness may represent, be about. There is no such guarantee with statements about those other things. With respect to a gigantic pink rat of which you are conscious, the rat in your consciousness, you know that he is in there. You don't know that there is a rat out there in front of you.
But that seems to leave something certain. Unless you're in some piece of science fiction, some advanced set-up where you are actually inspecting your own neurons or neural activity or process, those things are no part of your consciousness. The fact that our consciousness is all had, and the fact of what is ordinarily had by us, gives us the conclusion that devout physicalism is indeed the mistake it has and is taken or suspected to be by almost everyone. I don't see that this line of reflection has been refuted or that it can be refuted. It works as well against spiritualism.
That is not the end of a story. Consider perceptual consciousness by itself, typified by your being conscious of the room you're in. There is something else going on here, which maybe I half had in mind in the past.
Before you get around to forming beliefs or judgements with perceptual consciousness, there are what we can call the facts. We have or are given them, in a different sense from the one above that pertains to all of consciousness. What is wrong with the coherence theory of truth or anti-realism, at bottom, is not the old argument that you often need to accept another proposition to verify a first one. What is wrong is that the coherence theory supposes you are never out of the ring of propositions, never in touch with the truth-makers. Somehow you are.
To come towards the crux of the matter for this line of inquiry, there is a way in which propositions about the facts, these facts in perceptual consciousness, are secure. If my consciousness of a gigantic pink rat is as much given to me, in the familiar sense, as what I call my consciousness of this room, there is a further sense in which my latter consciousness is different in being secure. This second sense in which something is had by you, given to you, is the crucial sense for our present concern.
To come closer to the very crux, there are some statements to be made with perceptual consciousness that are somehow beyond doubt, statements that are necessarily true in some unordinary way. There are some statements here that are different indeed from the one about the rat. They are also different from a vast amount of respectable belief, indeed by far the largest part of our body of belief. It includes most of science and philosophy.
You ask what the somehow necessarily true statements of perceptual consciousness are. The answer is that they are a few very general statements having to do with propertied things in space and time, some or other somehow propertied things. For whatever reason, however deep or shallow, it cannot be that the general report of my perceptual experience as having to do with propertied things in space and time, some or other propertied things, is false.
Now to come to the crux you've no doubt anticipated, it is the proposition that these reflections are well on the way towards what you have been hearing from the beginning, the much less general conclusion that my perceptual consciousness consists in a certain full-fledged or replete world of perceptual consciousness, as does yours.
Certainly the secure facts of perceptual consciousness can't be expressed as being anything like that my perceptual consciousness itself is axons and dendrites in my head or anything like stuff in a spiritual place that isn't anywhere. Those are way past the limits of possibility. So we now have a second ground for disbelief in materialism and spiritualism. Do you whisper that someone logicially could have perceptual experience that consisted in pure or unexpressed numbers, or just a glow of God, or the great emptiness? You will anticipate that I want to say no, they couldn't. That wouldn't be perceptual experience.
So -- all of consciousness is given in an ordinary sense, which fact goes against materialism and spiritualism. With respect to perceptual consciousness, something is given in another sense, which helps with Radical Externalism. The last thing is new in Radical Externalism.
No doubt you will want to hear more about the distinction between the few secure propositions owed to perceptual consciousness and the insecure propositions either owed to it but not general or fundamental or a long way away, including one about the rat. There is a lot to say, but not here. Snowdon rightly speaks of the philosophy of mind as in part being metaphysics of perception. There is no staying out of that. It can't be left to metaphysicians.
Let me just make two remarks. One is that there is a unique order, stability and consistency about the secure propositions, as against pink rat propositions and so much more than them, indeed almost all of our propositions. The other remark is that it may be that our possibility of subject-predicate propositions, those at the bottom of our existence as knowers, requires the secure propositions. Have a look, maybe, at Peter Strawson's fine book Individuals.
Snowdon finishes his piece by in effect defending or anyway being tolerant of materialism or devout physicalism, which he surprisingly describes as the 'currently dominant' account of consciousness. Really? Dominant where? Certainly not in the human race, or the reflective human race. Certainly not in the professionally inquiring human world outside of philosophy, definitely including neuroscience as well as the rest of science, where at least an agnosticism plainly rules. Not in philosophy generally. Not in philosophy in the English language either.
And not, arguably, in our English-language philosophy of mind. Almost all current philosophers of mind in our language mix a little mystery into their reasonable commitment to the reality of consciousness, sometimes taking care to stick to cooler metaphors, as in the case of Searle and his lines about levels (me fn). What you need to mix in, according to Radical Externalism, is the recognition of subjectivity and more that comes with worlds of perceptual consciousness. What you need is that near-physicalism.
And to revert to Snowdon's declaration of a dominance of materialism -- to which materialism, incidentally, I myself have no emotional resistance owed to religion, high humanism, literary sensitivity, personality or the like -- there is also need for another of those doses of psychology or sociology on or of philosophy, this time on the insecurity of our line of life, its hopeful assumption of comrades on every side. Wish I was entirely free of it.
Towards the end of his paper, Snowdon and I seem not to be on the same wavelength. Maybe the main trouble is my inexplicitness back at the start of what he is discussing, my initial paper. What I was up to was no more than fixing a subject-matter for discussion -- first using a supplied understanding of perceptual consciousness to fix that subject-matter. To this end I settled on the ordinary understanding of what it is for you to be perceptually conscious, which I did not try to supply but which I confidently persist in thinking does not include in the consciousness your neurons or your retinas. So it evidently is taken as something other than, in fact less than, your seeing the page in a natural understanding.
Snowdon gives the impression of thinking that this was a case of begging the question of the nature of consciousness against devout physicalism. My idea is that it wasn't and isn't. The understanding and the fixing of the subject-matter leaves it open that the thing identified in the given way is different than it is assumed to be in the understanding. It could be all neural activity. It could be ghostly stuff. This circumstance of inquiry is one we know all about at the moment in another context, where someone speaks of what he calls terrorism and we know what he means and we can still have a fruitful disagreement about its nature and morality, disagreement about what he puts into his definition (2006, p. 00).
I grant, of course, that you can try to beg questions and influence people by your initial identification of a subject-matter, of which advantage you may indeed feel a need, as in the case of sticking neural activity into consciousness. Maybe I was moved a little by that kind of impulse myself. But it wasn't intended to and certainly doesn't settle things. The arguments of Radical Externalism against materialism are rather its failure to satisfy imperative criteria for a decent account of the nature of consciousness.
I am puzzled by particular comments made by Snowdon in this last part of his paper. What he speaks of as my first reason for not including the neurons in the initial identification of consciousness is that then it would follow that there is more to seeing the page than your consciousness of it. Well, I don't follow that diagnosis or interpretation of my motivation or whatever. It was I who was speaking of your seeing the page as having more in it than your consciousness. More puzzles follow for me in what Snowdon says. You as reader may sort them out, having the advantage of not being internal to, maybe stuck in, the language and usages of one of two interlocutors.
Let me just add that it is very clear to me that it is possible to avoid what you take to be question-begging and worse by certain stratagems. If somebody wants to run together up and down, as you see it, or male and female, or brain and mind, he can specify some items that will help him. He can get into a good deal of trouble about reference and meaning, of course, particularly if the supposed meaning is Frege's 'mode of presentation of the referent', but no matter. He can keep a question unbegged -- but he won't prove up is down that way.
What remains to be said, or rather what can be said now in this imperfect world, is only a word or two on the penultimate paragraph of Snowdon's greatly appreciated paper. The penultimate paragraph isn't right. Radical Externalism is Snowdon's Radical Externalism 2, at least as understood by me, and it isn't Naive realism. At the end of our first exchange of conversation, in which I have not replied to everything he had to say, my situation is one of rumination but not great discomfiture.
For two other discussions of Radical Externalism and replies, go to Radical Externalism or Berkeley Revisited? by E. J. Lowe, with a reply to Lowe, and Radical Internalism by Stephen Priest, with a reply. You can also go to excerpts from all 23 papers in the issue of Journal of Consciousness Studies and the book.
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