Global Access, Embodiment, and the Conscious Subject

Murray Shanahan


The objectives of this article are twofold. First, by denying the dualism inherent in attempts to load metaphysical significance on the inner / outer distinction, it defends the view that scientific investigation can approach consciousness in itself, and is not somehow restricted in scope to the outward manifestations of a private and hidden realm. Second, it provisionally endorses the central tenets of global workspace theory, and recommends them as a possible basis for the sort of scientific understanding of consciousness thus legitimised. However, the article goes on to argue that global workspace theory alone does not constitute a fully worked-out objective account of the conscious subject. This requires additional attention to be paid to (at least) the issue of embodiment, and to the possibility of indexicality that arises when an instantiation of the global workspace architecture inhabits a spatially localised body.