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The felt miracle of phenomenal consciousness

Radovic, Filip LU (2004)
Abstract (Swedish)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Avhandlingen behandlar problemet hur sensoriska kvaliteter (kvalia) förhåller sig till neurala tillstånd och processer (en modern variant av det klassiska kropp-själ problemet). I avhandlingen presenteras en serie argument som avser att göra det troligt att problemen att begripa medvetandets materiella bas bottnar i en serie missförstånd och felaktiga analogier. Avhandlingen avser att visa att intrycket av att det inte finns någon tillfredsställande förklaring till hur centrala nervsystemet genererar sensoriska kvaliteter eller upplevelser i allmänhet är en kognitiv illusion.
Abstract
This thesis is about the problem of how sensory qualities relate to neural states or processes. I shall try to present an account of why dualism appears to be an attractive and intuitive position, but also point out why dualistic intuitions may be misleading. A relatively common view in philosophy of mind is that accounts of how sensory qualities relate to neural states and processes involve an explanatory anomaly i.e. the so-called explanatory gap. The alleged gap makes it hard to comprehend how a system, which basically involves electro-chemical processes, can create feels of whatever kind. However, the felt profoundness of the problem may be an exaggeration. One of the major points in this essay is to show that we do not yet know... (More)
This thesis is about the problem of how sensory qualities relate to neural states or processes. I shall try to present an account of why dualism appears to be an attractive and intuitive position, but also point out why dualistic intuitions may be misleading. A relatively common view in philosophy of mind is that accounts of how sensory qualities relate to neural states and processes involve an explanatory anomaly i.e. the so-called explanatory gap. The alleged gap makes it hard to comprehend how a system, which basically involves electro-chemical processes, can create feels of whatever kind. However, the felt profoundness of the problem may be an exaggeration. One of the major points in this essay is to show that we do not yet know whether it is a deep mysterious philosophical puzzle or if it is a technical engineering problem, i.e. how to bring about sensory qualities by means of an underlying neural mechanism.



A theme throughout this essay is to demystify the nature of sensory qualities as natural items that only under certain descriptions appear as mysterious or miraculous. For all we know, phenomenal consciousness may be plain sentience – not some fancy or unfathomable kind of consciousness, although complicated to account for due to lack of empirical knowledge about how the brain works. The argument tries to establish that it is the wiring and function of sensory observational systems that make sensory qualities appear spectacular and immaterial.



It is argued that the notion of there being an explanatory gap emerges out of a misunderstanding of how sensory observation is wired and how it works. Some basic facts about sensory observation explain why “experiential concepts” and “physical concepts” reflect two logically distinct conceptual vocabularies. Given a proper description of the observational process the gap does not manifest itself as a gap but as an illusion of there being a gap. In sum, the mind-body problem is man-made and is in a profound sense a cognitive artifact. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
opponent
  • professor Svensson, Gunnar, Stockholms universitet
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Philosophical logic, subjectivity, qualia, physicalism, phenomenal, objectivity, explanatory gap, dualism, Cognitive illusion, consciousness, Teoretisk filosofi, logik, Phenomenology, Fenomenologi
pages
160 pages
publisher
Department of Philosophy, Lund University
defense location
Sal 104, Kungshuset, Lund
defense date
2004-09-24 13:30
ISBN
91-628-6212-X
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
04f2d243-1a78-4bb8-9496-3836c3be89a8 (old id 21525)
date added to LUP
2007-05-28 11:00:17
date last changed
2016-09-19 08:45:09
@misc{04f2d243-1a78-4bb8-9496-3836c3be89a8,
  abstract     = {This thesis is about the problem of how sensory qualities relate to neural states or processes. I shall try to present an account of why dualism appears to be an attractive and intuitive position, but also point out why dualistic intuitions may be misleading. A relatively common view in philosophy of mind is that accounts of how sensory qualities relate to neural states and processes involve an explanatory anomaly i.e. the so-called explanatory gap. The alleged gap makes it hard to comprehend how a system, which basically involves electro-chemical processes, can create feels of whatever kind. However, the felt profoundness of the problem may be an exaggeration. One of the major points in this essay is to show that we do not yet know whether it is a deep mysterious philosophical puzzle or if it is a technical engineering problem, i.e. how to bring about sensory qualities by means of an underlying neural mechanism.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
A theme throughout this essay is to demystify the nature of sensory qualities as natural items that only under certain descriptions appear as mysterious or miraculous. For all we know, phenomenal consciousness may be plain sentience – not some fancy or unfathomable kind of consciousness, although complicated to account for due to lack of empirical knowledge about how the brain works. The argument tries to establish that it is the wiring and function of sensory observational systems that make sensory qualities appear spectacular and immaterial.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
It is argued that the notion of there being an explanatory gap emerges out of a misunderstanding of how sensory observation is wired and how it works. Some basic facts about sensory observation explain why “experiential concepts” and “physical concepts” reflect two logically distinct conceptual vocabularies. Given a proper description of the observational process the gap does not manifest itself as a gap but as an illusion of there being a gap. In sum, the mind-body problem is man-made and is in a profound sense a cognitive artifact.},
  author       = {Radovic, Filip},
  isbn         = {91-628-6212-X},
  keyword      = {Philosophical logic,subjectivity,qualia,physicalism,phenomenal,objectivity,explanatory gap,dualism,Cognitive illusion,consciousness,Teoretisk filosofi,logik,Phenomenology,Fenomenologi},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {160},
  publisher    = {ARRAY(0x9119d50)},
  title        = {The felt miracle of phenomenal consciousness},
  year         = {2004},
}