Indirect representation and the self-representational theory of consciousness

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According to Uriah Kriegel's self-representational theory of consciousness, mental state M is conscious just in case it is a complex with suitably integrated proper parts, M1 and M2, such that M1 is a higher-order representation of lower-order representation M2. Kriegel claims that M thereby "indirectly" represents itself, and he attempts to motivate this claim by appealing to what he regards as intuitive cases of indirect perceptual and pictorial representation. For example, Kriegel claims that it's natural to say that in directly perceiving the front surface of an apple one thereby perceives the apple itself. Cases such as this are supposed to provide intuitive support for the principle that if X represents Y, and Y is highly integrated into complex object Z, then X indirectly represents Z. In this paper I provide counterexamples to Kriegel's principle of indirect representation, before going on to argue that we can explain what is going on in those cases in which the subject seems to represent a complex whole by representing one its parts without positing indirect representations anyway. I then argue that my alternative approach is superior to Kriegel's in a number of ways, thereby rendering his theory of consciousness implausible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-290
Number of pages18
JournalPhilosophical Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Complexes
  • Consciousness
  • Indirect representation
  • Perceptual representation
  • The HOT theory of consciousness
  • The self-representational theory of consciousness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


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