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The False Problem of Consciousness

Gomez-Marin, Alex and Arnau, Juan (2019) The False Problem of Consciousness. [Preprint]

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Abstract

The orthodox neuroscientific approach to the study of consciousness is paradoxical: scientists examine consciousness (with their own consciousness) and, infatuated with neurons, claim that brains must be the source of everything, and then declare consciousness epiphenomenal. Empirical expediency can provide spectacular scientific answers. Yet, one should make sure it is not to philosophically ill-posed questions. Investigating "how experience ensues from the brain", rather than exploring a factual claim, betrays a philosophical commitment. Here we examine the thesis of parallelism between cerebral and mental states: "consciousness tells no more than what is going on in the brain; it only tells it in a different language". We retrieve an argument by Henri Bergson to expose the fundamental self-contradiction of parallelism: it forces the idealist to sustain that "the part is the whole", and the realist that "the part subsists when the remainder of the whole vanishes". We then recast Bergson's image-movement theory from Matter and Memory as a way forward to overcome the conceptual dead-end of parallelism. Consciousness is real. So is its special relation to the brain. Differentiating between solidarity (as lesions demonstrate) and equivalence (as no data does) offers an alternative point of departure for an understanding of consciousness that does not, from the outset, outlay a false problem.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Gomez-Marin, Alex0000-0003-2764-2583
Arnau, Juan
Keywords: consciousness, neuroscience, Bergson, parallelism, memory, mind, brain, behaviour
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Neuroscience
General Issues > Philosophers of Science
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
Depositing User: Dr. Alex Gomez-Marin
Date Deposited: 02 Feb 2019 05:13
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2019 05:13
Item ID: 15699
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Neuroscience
General Issues > Philosophers of Science
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
Date: 31 January 2019
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/15699

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