Experiencing: A jamesian approach

Simona Ginsburg*, Eva Jablonka

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper suggests an approach to consciousness that focuses on the evolutionary transition from pre-conscious animals to the simplest types of conscious (experiencing) animals. Our argument is that experiencing originated with the evolution of associative learn- ing, and that one of the major functions of experiencing was what Wil- liam James called 'fighting for ends': endowing animals with motivation. We propose that the sensory states generated during asso- ciative learning act as internal guides and selectors of new neural relations, new behaviours, and new ends, leading to the unitary, sub- jective and intentional internal dynamic states that we recognize as experiencing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-124
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Consciousness Studies
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


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