Could Consciousness Be Physical? The Brain Maintained

Jesse J. Prinz

in The Conscious Brain

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780195314595
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979059 | DOI:

Series: Philosophy of Mind Series

Could Consciousness Be Physical? The Brain Maintained

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The most famous objection to physicalism may be Frank Jackson's knowledge argument, a thought experiment involving a person who knows everything about the brain, but does not know what it's like to see colors. This chapter reviews the standard replies to this argument: representationalism, which claim that knowledge of the brain suffices for consciousness; the ability account, which says that phenomenal knowledge is a skill rather than a set of propositions; and mode-of-presentation replies, which posit a special class of phenomenal concepts. Objections are raised each of these, and a new reply is proposed based on cognitive neuroscience. On this reply, phenomenal knowledge involves working memory structures that maintain sensory states but do not describe or represent them. Such structures cannot be acquired by merely learning about the brain, even though physicalism is true. This account integrates lessons from other replies, but avoids their weaknesses.

Keywords: knowledge argument; know how; acquaintance; phenomenal knowledge; representationalism; working memory; maintenance and manipulation

Chapter.  18340 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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