Phenomenal Consciousness

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The phenomenal consciousness conception of conscious experience constitutes the target of much research in the scientific study of consciousness. This page intends to distinguish different connotations of the term.

Meaning from phenomenology

Phenomenal consciousness in the sense of the philosophical discipline of phenomenology can arguably taken to refer to the totality of how experience reveals itself to an experiencing subject, to how the experiencing subject finds itself experiencing, to how the the world appears to him/her. In less loaded terminology, it could possibly be characterized as referring to the totality of impressions, feelings, thoughts, perceptions, etc. which an experiencing subject lives through at a particular instant of time.

Thus phenomenal consciousness refers to the way in which the world appears to us, i.e. the way in which we experience the world. This conception of phenomenal consciousness is in fact what is referred to as conscious experience in this wiki.

Chalmers' definition

The above conceptualization has to be distinguished from Chalmers' use of this term in (Chalmers, 1996),[1] where he defines phenomenal consciousness to refer to a conception of consciousness which does not have a function or structure, where "to have a function" is to have a causal role in the production of behaviour, and where the term "structure" is used in a spatio-temporal sense. Cf. Chalmers' axiomatization.


  1. Chalmers, David J. The conscious mind: In search of a fundamental theory. Oxford university press, 1996.