Show Reference: "Computational Models of Consciousness: An Evaluation"

Computational Models of Consciousness: An Evaluation Journal of Intelligent Systems, Vol. 9, No. 5-6. (December 1999), pp. 507-568, doi:10.1515/JISYS.1999.9.5-6.507 by Ron Sun
    abstract = {This paper aims at evaluating existing computational (mechanistic) models of cognition in relation to the study of consciousness, on the basis of psychological and philosophical theories and data. It first critiques various mechanistic explanations of consciousness, especially existing computational cognitive models. It then explores the issue of the functional roles of consciousness and examines various views in this regard, in relation to the mechanistic explanation of consciousness. In these examinations, the paper argues in favor of the explanation based on the distinction between localist (symbolic) representation and distributed representation (the ideas of which have been put forth in the connectionist literature). Serving as a basis for the discussions, a model of the conscious/unconscious interaction, utilizing the representational dierence explanation of consciousness, is briefly described. The paper also advances a proposal regarding the synergistic interaction between the conscious and the unconscious that encompasses various existing views concerning the functional roles of consciousness.},
    author = {Sun, Ron},
    citeulike-article-id = {13330940},
    citeulike-linkout-0 = {},
    citeulike-linkout-1 = {},
    citeulike-linkout-2 = {},
    doi = {10.1515/JISYS.1999.9.5-6.507},
    issn = {2191-026X},
    journal = {Journal of Intelligent Systems},
    keywords = {consciousness, model},
    month = dec,
    number = {5-6},
    pages = {507--568},
    posted-at = {2014-08-21 10:51:31},
    priority = {2},
    publisher = {Walter de Gruyter GmbH},
    title = {Computational Models of Consciousness: An Evaluation},
    url = {},
    volume = {9},
    year = {1999}

See the CiteULike entry for more info, PDF links, BibTex etc.

Theories of consciousness (and unconsciousness) are related to theories of what Ron Sun calls "operationalized notions of consciousness" which include

  • implicit vs. explicit memory
  • implicit vs. explicit learning
  • automaticity

Ron Sun integrates philosophical notions into his scientific writing against the (supposed) opinion of many scientists that philosophy has no place in science.

Sun subscribes to Jackendoff's "Hypothesis of computational sufficiency". According to Sun, this hypothesis states that a mechanistic explanation is necessary and sufficient to explain consciousness. A mechanistic explanation, here, is an explanation in terms of physical processes.

Anyone who is not a dualist must assume that phenomenology can be traced to physical processes. Therefore, consciousness, being phenomenological, must be due to physical processes. To explain consciousness, explaining the physical processes is thus necessary.