Phenomenal Concepts, Transparency, and the Hard Problems of Consciousness
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AbstractThe hard problem of consciousness is the problem of explaining why experiences—perceptions, sensations, emotions, and moods—are brain states. My dissertation is motivated by the thought that our current understanding of the hard problem is flawed, and one of the aims of my dissertation is to address this flaw. The other aim is to lay a foundation for a monistic view of the mind-brain relation that is distinct from physicalism.
Most philosophers assume that there is only one hard problem since the hard problem is the problem of explaining why there is something it is like to be in a brain state. In “Puzzles of Pain”, I argue that some experiences, e.g., pains, are such that, when we have them, we feel a certain way, while other experiences, e.g., color experiences, are such that, when we have them, something seems a certain way. This suggests that there are two hard problems, one associated with each type of experience. These problems are the subjects of my other papers.
In “Knowing What Pain Is”, I argue that the hard problem for pain is reconciling our awareness and knowledge of pain with pain being a brain state. I argue that a reconciliation can’t be achieved since what we learn about pain via our awareness is that it is sui generis. In “Does Transparency Solve the Mind-Body Problem?”, I argue that the hard problem for color experience is explaining why a brain state does a certain thing, viz., make us aware of color. By examining how neuroscientists explain why brain states perform functions, I argue that the hard problem for color experience can’t be solved since a physical mechanism showing how a brain state makes us aware of color can’t be specified.
Implicit in these negative conclusions is a positive view that combines the monism of physicalism with the phenomenality of dualism. The roots for such a view can be found in Russell and Eddington, and it holds promise as a worthy alternative to the usual options of physicalism and dualism.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:40046510
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