R. Adolphs. The Cambridge Handbook of Consciousness, Cambridge University Press, The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 8RU, UK, (2007)
Conscious experience is usually presumed
to depend in a direct way only on events in
the brain. For instance, thought experiments
in which events in the brain are held constant,
but events outside the brain are changed,
are assumed to leave the nature of the
conscious experience also unchanged. Here
I argue to the contrary that conscious experience
depends in a direct way on a wider set
of events, including events outside the brain
and in the past. Nonetheless, not all events
matter equally. For events outside the brain,
social relations appear especially important.
A complex social environment has shaped
much of the architecture of the brain and can
be partially internalized by the brain via simulation.
This view suggests that understanding
conscious experience requires understanding
the phylogenetic, ontogenetic, and
current social relations in which an individual
brain is embedded.