Article

Consciousness

Darragh Byrne

in Philosophy

ISBN: 9780195396577
Published online May 2010 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195396577-0025
Consciousness

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The psychological phenomenon that many regard as the most perplexing is consciousness, or, very roughly defined, the property of certain mental states—paradigmatically, sensations and perceptual experiences—in virtue of which (as Thomas Nagel influentially put it) there is “something it is like” to have them. These phenomenal qualities seem especially difficult to reconcile with physicalist metaphysics; at least prima facie, it is hard to believe that phenomenal properties are physical, or that science will ever explain what it is like to have a sensation or perceptual experience. This metaphysical problem is a traditional one, and it arises repeatedly, in different ways, in the entry titled “Metaphysics of Mind.” Recently, various forms of this objection to physicalism have been taxonomized more carefully than before, and three of these are explored in Anti-Physicalist Arguments. A reply to these worries that has been particularly conspicuous recently in the work of several leading physicalists is considered in Phenomenal Concepts. Although the question of reconciliation with physicalism is important, it is not the only issue here of interest to philosophers, and general theories of consciousness have been developed that attempt to go beyond it. In Representational Theories, Higher-Order Thought Theories, and Contemporary Dualism and Neo-Russellian Views, four examples of such general theories are considered.

Article.  5225 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art ; Epistemology ; Feminist Philosophy ; History of Western Philosophy ; Metaphysics ; Moral Philosophy ; Non-Western Philosophy ; Philosophy of Language ; Philosophy of Law ; Philosophy of Mathematics and Logic ; Philosophy of Mind ; Philosophy of Religion ; Philosophy of Science ; Social and Political Philosophy

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