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P- consciousness and A-consciousness according to Block

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It is quite possible that, as block points out, the contents of thoughts themselves have a P-conscious aspect independently of their vehicles. Block points out one crucial thing that a particular trait of P-consciousness that is often missed is that differences in intentional content often make a P-conscious difference. Block claims that P-conscious properties are completely distinct from any cognitive, intentional, or functional property. Block also defines A-consciousness. According to him, the non-phenomenal notion of consciousness that is most easily and dangerously conflated with P-consciousness is access-consciousness or A-consciousness.

state is said to be access-conscious or A-conscious “ if, in virtue of ones having the state, a representation of its content is (1) inferentially promiscuous, i. poised to be used as a premise in reasoning, and (2) poised for [rational] control of action and (3) poised for rational control of speech” . (Block, 1995, 13) Block, however, says that these three conditions are together sufficient, but not all necessary for the existence of the state of A-consciousness. According to Block (3) is not necessary for the existence of the state A-consciousness.

He regards (3) as unnecessary because he wants to allow non-linguistic animals, e. chimps, to have A-conscious states. Block states that A-consciousness is a cluster concept, in which (3) is the element of the cluster with the smallest weight, though it is (3) which often acts as the best practical guide to A-consciousness. Block talks about three main differences between A-consciousness and P consciousness: first, P-conscious content is phenomenal, whereas A-conscious content is representational. Second, A-consciousness is a functional notion, but P-consciousness is not a functional notion. And there a thing like a P-conscious type of state.

For example the feel of pain is a P-conscious type of state. But any particular kind of thought that is A-conscious at a given time could fail to be accessible at some other time.  

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