Abstract: An approach focused on the evolutionary transition to experiencing -- to the first organisms with phenomenal consciousness -- “can enable the identification of fundamental organizational principles involved in experiencing. Based on the heuristics of the origin-of-life research, we outline a parallel approach to experiencing, and suggest that just as function emerged with the transition to life, felt-needs emerged with the transition to experiencing. We argue that experiencing is a facet of open-ended associative learning in neural animals with a CNS, and that the evolution of associative learning was a key factor in the metazoan diversification during the Cambrian. It endowed animals with motivation and increased their discrimination powers on the basis of systemic reward systems. Tracking the molecular and neural correlates of associative learning as they emerged during evolutionary history may therefore shed light on the dynamics that underlie elementary forms of experiencing.
Simona Ginsburg and Eva Jablonka (2010) Experiencing: a Jamesian approach Journal of Consciousness Studies 17:102-124.http://www.openu.ac.il/Personal_sites/download/Simona-Ginsburg/Experiencing-A-Jamesian-Approach2010.pdf
Simona Ginsburg and Eva Jablonka (2007) The Transition to Experiencing: I. Limited Learning and Limited Experiencing Biological Theory. 2(3) 218-230.
Simona Ginsburg and Eva Jablonka (2007) The Transition to Experiencing: II. The Evolution of Associative Learning Based on Feelings. Biological Theory 2(3) 231-243
Simona Ginsburg and Eva Jablonka (2010) Associative learning: a factor in the Cambrian explosion. Journal of Theoretical Biology 266:11-20.