The unity of consciousness

Tim Bayne*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review

124 Citations (Scopus)


One of the features of consciousness that has been largely overlooked in recent treatments of the topic is its unity. What is the unity of consciousness? To what degree might consciousness be unified? And what implications might the unity of consciousness have for our conception of consciousness and the self? Drawing on philosophy, psychology and neuroscience, this book presents answers to these questions. The first part of the book develops a conception of the unity of consciousness according to which a subject has a unified conscious if and only if it has a single conscious state that subsumes each and every one of its conscious states. This conception of the unity of consciousness gives rise to the unity thesis-the claim that consciousness in human beings is necessarily unified. The second part of the volume examines the plausibility of the unity thesis. The book develops a model for evaluating the unity thesis and then goes on to apply this model to a wide range of syndromes-such as anosognosia, the hidden observer in hypnosis, and the split-brain syndrome-in which the unity of consciousness is often said to breakdown. In each case the evidence in favour of disunity models is found wanting. The final third of the volume examines points of contact between the unity of consciousness on the one hand and theories of theories of consciousness, the sense of embodiment, and accounts of the self on the other.

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages342
ISBN (Electronic)9780191594786
ISBN (Print)9780199215386
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Anosognosia
  • Binding
  • Co-consciousness
  • Consciousness
  • Dissociative identity disorder
  • Hypnosis
  • Phenomenal unity
  • Schizophrenia
  • Split-brain syndrome
  • The self
  • The unity thesis
  • Unity of consciousness


Dive into the research topics of 'The unity of consciousness'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this