Consciousness as a Form of Matter

Colin McGinn

in Basic Structures of Reality

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199841103
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919529 | DOI:
Consciousness as a Form of Matter

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This chapter examines the hypothesis that consciousness itself is yet another form of matter. Just as there is electrically neutral matter and electrically charged matter, so there is insentient matter and sentient matter—these are just two types of matter. An electromagnetic field is a type of material reality, and so is consciousness. Alternatively, consciousness is one form of energy, along with kinetic energy or electrical energy. If this hypothesis is true, then consciousness is material after all—though not in the Cartesian sense. Matter/energy is the underlying substance of the universe, and it may ultimately be unitary, but it can take widely different forms—with consciousness as just one of them.

Keywords: Cartesian materialism; matter; consciousness; energy

Chapter.  10378 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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