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Redécouvrir la conscience par le rêve : le débat entre théories cognitives et théories non cognitives de la conscience à l’épreuve de la recherche sur le rêve

Abstract : In 1995, the American philosopher Ned Block proposed to distinguish between two notions of consciousness: “Access-consciousness” and “Phenomenal-consciousness”. “P-consciousness” is experience: it refers to what it is like to be in a certain mental state. “Aconsciousness” is a purely functional notion. A mental state is A-conscious when it allows the subject to cognitively control its reasoning, speech and action. Since 1995, Block supports the controversial hypothesis according to which conscious experience overflows our cognitive access to it. The main goal of this work is to assess this hypothesis from the point of view of scientific research on dreaming. This PhD dissertation makes the three following points : 1. Assuming there is a continuity between waking and dreaming memory, one can objectively verify that dreams are conscious experiences that occur during sleep relying on the canonical criterion of reportability. Indeed, many studies show that subjects can report on a dream content that unequivocally reflects a stimulus that has occurred more than one minute before awakening – which couldn’t be had this dream content been unconsciously processed. Considering that sleeping involves a severe deactivation of the frontal areas of the brain, especially of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DlPFC), this result seems to call into question the global neuronal workspace theory of consciousness. Indeed, according to this theory the activation of these very areas is a necessary condition for a conscious perception to occur(Dehaene & Naccache, 2001; Dehaene et al, 2006). 2. There is no way though to demonstrate scientifically that dreams are conscious experiences of the sleeper without implying they were noticed during sleep, which, in turn, implies an elementary level of access. Still, certain cognitive disorders of our dreaming consciousness, such as change blindness, suggest that, due to a severe weakness of working memory, noticing an experience during sleep might not suffice to constitute a genuine cognitive access to it. The well-known phenomenon called “identity-appearance dissociation” (Schwartz, 1999) also suggests that dreaming experiences that are reportable on awakening might not always be poised for cognitive control in the dream. 3. Once the reality of conscious experiences during sleep is objectively established relying on the criterion of reportability, it becomes possible – again under the assumption of continuity - to empirically infer the existence of dreaming experiences that the subject cannot report. The following question then arises: are these experiences, which can be seen as a form of unconscious mental life, access-conscious? Finally, and more generally, we show that the results of dreaming research offer a vantage point both to call into question the notion that conscious experience is necessarily reportable and to support the concept of modularity of our conscious selves (Nagel, 1971; Gazzaniga,1985) that underlies Block’s overflow hypothesis (Block, 1995, 1997)
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Ludwig Crespin. Redécouvrir la conscience par le rêve : le débat entre théories cognitives et théories non cognitives de la conscience à l’épreuve de la recherche sur le rêve. Philosophie. Université Blaise Pascal - Clermont-Ferrand II, 2016. Français. ⟨NNT : 2016CLF20014⟩. ⟨tel-01691533⟩



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