Is it considered possible to be consciously aware of an object or thought without experiencing feelings, or is "feelings" just another word for conscious awareness?. If this question can't be dismissed, which philosophers have explored it?

You may find it interesting to read about the phenomenon of blindsight, which sounds roughly like what you're describing. My impression is that perhaps psychologists more than philosophers have investigated it, but there's at least one book on the topic written by someone trained in philosophy.

In cases of blindsight subjects show behavioural sensitivity to visual informatioon about an object that they seem not to be consciously aware of - e.g. they can point it it, but if you ask them whether they can see it, they say 'no'. I am not sure if that is relevant to the question. Talk in terms of unconscious thoughts and feelings is central to psychoanalysis and its many modern offshoots. Just google and you'll find stacks of stuff on it. The expressions 'conscious awareness' and 'feelings' have many different uses and under specific technical interpretations they may be interdefined.

In addition to the previous replies, you might have in mind the notion of a "philosophical zombie": A person(?) indistinguishable in its appearance and behavior from a human but who has no "qualia" or "conscious (qualitative) experiences". Again, there's been lots written on this, but you might find the opposing views of Daniel Dennett and David Chalmers to be a good place to start. For Chalmers, who thinks that there can be such zombies (at least in theory), take a look at:

Chalmers, David J. (1996), The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory (New York: Oxford University Press).

For Dennett (who thinks that there aren't any such things, or possibly that there are, namely, us!), take a look at:

Dennett, Daniel C. (1991), Consciousness Explained (Boston: Little, Brown).

(Other citations can be found under the heading "Philosophical Zombies" in my bibliography on computational theories of consciousness

I have no expertise on zombies or blindsight, but there is a wondrous episode on RadioLab.org in their archives entitled "Words." It raises more questions than answers, but that is what we philosophers do, is it not?

bjm

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