Although each of us was once a baby, infant consciousness remains mysterious, not least because of uncertainty regarding how best to measure consciousness. Accounts of the ontogeny of consciousness can be divided into two broad camps: ‘early-onset’ views, which locate the emergence of consciousness prior to (or very shortly after) birth, and ‘late-onset’ views, which locate the emergence of consciousness significantly after birth. Although late onset accounts have dominated discussion of infant consciousness, early-onset accounts are increasingly plausible in light of recent evidence. Drawing inspiration from recent work on the detection of consciousness in other challenging conditions (e.g., patients with severe brain damage), this talk considers when and in what form consciousness might first emerge in development.
Tim Bayne is a philosopher of mind and cognitive science, with a particular interest in the nature of consciousness. He is currently Professor of Philosophy at Monash University (Melbourne), having taught previously at Macquarie University, the University of Western Ontario, the University of Manchester and the University of Oxford. He is the author of The Unity of Consciousness (2010), Thought: A Very Short Introduction (2013), and most recently Philosophy of Mind (2021). He is an editor of Delusion and Self-Deception (2008), The Oxford Companion to Consciousness (2009) and Cognitive Phenomenology (2011). His current research concerns the measurement of consciousness, and whether it is possible to build a consciousness meter. Other research interests include the nature of conscious thought, disorders of consciousness and taxonomy in psychiatry.
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