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date: 25 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

It is now widely believed that perception can be unconscious, but that view has also been challenged. This chapter reviews evidence for unconscious perception, showing that there can be cases of conscious perception without consciousness of what is seen, as well as perception without any consciousness experience. Evidence against conscious perception is rebutted. The chapter asks whether conscious and unconscious perception differ in content. Efforts to identify differences in content are challenged. That suggests that the difference between conscious and unconscious states must lie elsewhere. The difference, it is suggested, lies in the fact that conscious states have a qualitative character, but qualitative character is not a representational quality; it derives instead from the physical realizers of conscious states. The chapter concludes by relating these realizers to attention, and arguing that the conscious/unconscious divide coincides with the attended/unattended divide, which, in turn, explains why conscious and unconscious states have somewhat different functional roles.

Keywords: unconscious perception, masked priming, attention, perceptual content, change blindness, blindsight

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