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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Will the 'hard problem' of consciousness ever be solved?

David Papineau
The Question
Originally published February 21, 2017

Here is an excerpt:

The problem, if there is one, is that we find the reduction of consciousness to brain processes very hard to believe. The flaw lies in us, not in the neuroscientific account of consciousness. Despite all the scientific evidence, we can’t free ourselves of the old-fashioned dualist idea that conscious states inhabit some extra dualist realm outside the physical brain.

Just consider how the hard problem is normally posed. Why do brain states give rise to conscious feelings? That is already dualist talk. If one thing gives rise to another, they must be separate. Fire give rise to smoke, but H2O doesn’t give rise to water. So the very terminology presupposes that the conscious mind is different from the physical brain—which of course then makes us wonder why the brain generates this mysterious extra thing. On the other hand, if only we could properly accept that the mind just is the brain, then we would be no more inclined to ask why ‘they’ go together than we ask why H20 is water.

The article is here.

There is also a 5 minute video by Massimo Pigliucci on how the hard problem is a categorical mistake on this page.