Toward a Mature Science of Consciousness

Front Psychol. 2018 May 29;9:693. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00693. eCollection 2018.


In Being No One, Metzinger (2004[2003]) introduces an approach to the scientific study of consciousness that draws on theories and results from different disciplines, targeted at multiple levels of analysis. Descriptions and assumptions formulated at, for instance, the phenomenological, representationalist, and neurobiological levels of analysis provide different perspectives on the same phenomenon, which can ultimately yield necessary and sufficient conditions for applying the concept of phenomenal representation. In this way, the "method of interdisciplinary constraint satisfaction (MICS)" (as it has been called by Weisberg, 2005) promotes our understanding of consciousness. However, even more than a decade after the first publication of Being No One, we still lack a mature science of consciousness. This paper makes the following meta-theoretical contribution: It analyzes the hurdles an approach such as MICS has yet to overcome and discusses to what extent existing approaches solve the problems left open by MICS. Furthermore, it argues that a unifying theory of different features of consciousness is required to reach a mature science of consciousness.

Keywords: consciousness; explanatory correlates of consciousness (ECCs); integrated information theory; naturalized phenomenology; neural correlates of consciousness (NCCs); neurophenomenology; phenomenology; predictive processing.