Review of Tye - Consciousness and Persons - Unity and Identity
Kobes (Bernard W.)
Source: Psyche 11 (5), June 2005
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Summary

  1. Consciousness has been defined as that annoying period between naps, and this grumpy definition may not be wholly facetious, if Michael Tye’s latest book is right. Tye’s main goal here is to develop a theory of the phenomenal unity of experience at a time, and its diachronic analog, the moment-to-moment continuity of one’s experiential stream from the time one wakes up to the time consciousness lapses.
  2. This attractively concise book is itself like a rapid stream. Divided into numbered sections of usually only one or two paragraphs each, it offers crisp arguments on a wide range of topics; these include the metaphysics of material things, the individuation1 of experience, the unity of the body image and bodily sensations, the unity of occurrent thoughts and moods, the specious present, the nature of the disunity in split-brain subjects, the ontology of persons, and vagueness in personal identity. Despite its brisk pace the flow is well-controlled; seldom is the exposition cloudy or turbulent.
  3. In what follows, after surveying Tye’s main positions, I highlight some strange consequences of his “one experience” thesis. I also sketch a way in which much of the spirit of Tye’s explanatory project could survive even in the absence of this peculiar doctrine. I conclude with a special problem for Tye’s treatment of the diachronic case.


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