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Three Philosophical Problems about Consciousness and their Possible Resolution

Maxwell, Nicholas (2003) Three Philosophical Problems about Consciousness and their Possible Resolution. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Abstract Three big philosophical problems about consciousness are: Why does it exist? How do we explain and understand it? How can we explain brain-consciousness correlations? If functionalism were true, all three problems would be solved. But it is false, which means all three problems remain unsolved. Here, it is argued that the first problem cannot have a solution; this is inherent in the nature of explanation. The second problem is solved by recognizing that (a) there is an explanation as to why science cannot explain consciousness, and (b) consciousness can be explained by a different kind of explanation, empathic or "personalistic" explanation, compatible with, but not reducible to, scientific explanation. The third problem is solved by exploiting David Chalmers' "principle of structural coherence", and involves postulating that sensations experienced by us visual, auditory, tactile, and so on amount to minute scattered regions in a vast, multi dimensional "space" of all possible sensations, which vary smoothly, and in a linear way, throughout the space. There is also the space of all possible sentient brain processes. There is just one, unique one-one mapping between these two spaces that preserves continuity and linearity. It is this which provides the explanation as to why brain processes and sensations are correlated as they are. I consider objections to this unique-matching theory, and consider how the theory might be empirically confirmed.


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Item Type: Preprint
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Maxwell, Nicholas
Keywords: consciusness, psychology, functionalism, explanation, reductionism, behaviourism, sentience, explanatory gap, two-aspect theory, brain process theory
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Psychology/Psychiatry
General Issues > Explanation
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science
Depositing User: Nicholas Maxwell
Date Deposited: 21 Mar 2005
Last Modified: 07 Oct 2010 15:13
Item ID: 2238
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/2238

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