Block (2002) has argued that the multiplicity of meanings ascribed to consciousness is due
to the erroneous treatment of very different concepts as a single concept. Block distinguished
four notions of consciousness intended to encapsulate the various meanings attributed to
the term: phenomenal, access, self, and monitoring consciousness. We argue that what is
common to all of these definitions is the implicit distinction between consciousness and the
content of consciousness. We critically examine the term “altered state of consciousness”
and argue that affixing the qualifier “altered state” to consciousness results in a theoretical
confusion of consciousness and its content, that is, consciousness is mistaken for the content
of consciousness. We refer to this as the consciousness/content fallacy and argue that
it may be avoided if one supplants “altered states of consciousness” with “altered pattern of
phenomenal properties,” an extrapolation of the term “phenomenal field.” Implications of
the consciousness/content fallacy for theory and research are also considered.
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Rock, A. J., & Krippner, S. (2007). Rock, A. J., & Krippner, S. (2007). Does the concept of “altered states of consciousness” rest on a mistake? International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, 26(1), 33–40.. International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, 26 (1). Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.ciis.edu/ijts-transpersonalstudies/vol26/iss1/5