Consciousness and Space

Colin McGinn

in Consciousness and its Objects

Published in print March 2004 | ISBN: 9780199267606
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191601798 | DOI:
Consciousness and Space

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The subject of this chapter is the relation of consciousness to space, and it is suggested that reductionism about consciousness needs must involve a new conception of space. Experiences are non-spatial and as such are even in principle unperceivable; they are thus quite unlike the posits of physics, unobservables postulated as the best explanation of data. The problem of how something non-spatial could arise out of a universe composed merely of spatially located matter obeying the laws of physics under the influence of natural selection (‘the space problem’) is discussed. Dualism, which denies that mind did emerge from matter, is one solution; classic materialism, which denies that consciousness is inherently spatial (though that is how we conceive of it), is another. Both positions are unattractive, and it is proposed that a solution to the mind-body problem requires a conception of space radically different from the one we have, though, in the light of Strawson’s arguments that our experience is inherently spatial, it is perhaps one that we cannot ever achieve.

Keywords: consciousness; dualism; materialism; physics; space; Strawson

Chapter.  7887 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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