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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > Soul Science God Philosophy > Science and Spiritual Quest > Section 2 Machine, Mind and Consciousness > SOME RECENT TRENDS IN CONSCIOUSNESS STUDIES > 5. Philosophy of Consciousness

5. Philosophy of Consciousness

 

In Nagel's view, the reductionist program that dominates current work in the philosophy of mind is completely misguided, because it is based on the groundless assumption that a particular conception of objective reality is .the reductionist program that dominates current work in the philosophy of mind is completely misguided, because it is based on the groundless assumption that a particular conception of objective reality is exhaustive of what there is.exhaustive of what there is. It is difficult to understand what could be meant by the objective character of an

experience, apart from the particular point of view from which its subject apprehends it. After all, what would be left of what it was like to be a bat if one removed the viewpoint of the bat?" [14]."It seems unlikely that any physical theory of mind can be completed until more thought has been given to the general problem of subjective and objective" [15].In Nagel's opinion, "A physical organism by itself obviously can't have a mind:there is no way of constructing subjectivity out of two hundred pounds of subatomic particles. So something else must be added, which may as well be called soul, and this is the bearer of mental properties, the subject of mental states, processes and events." [16].Acccording to McGinn, "You can stare into a living conscious brain, your own or someone else's, and see there a wide variety of instantiated properties its shape, color, texture, etc. but you will not thereby see what the subject is experiencing, the conscious state itself... consciousness is noumenal with respect to perception of the brain" [17]. "A deep fact about our own nature as a form of embodied consciousness is thus necessarily hidden from us"[18].Chalmers considers that "'Consciousness' is an ambiguous term, referring to many different phenomena ... some are easier to explain than others ... it is useful to divide the associated The really hard problem of consciousness is the problem of experience.problems of consciousness into 'hard' and 'easy' problems. The easy problems of consciousness

are those that seem directly susceptible to the standard methods of cognitive science, whereby a phenomenon is explained in terms of computational or neural mechanisms. The hard problems are those that seem to resist those methods" [19]. "The really hard problem of consciousness is the problem of experience. When we think and perceive, there is a whir of information-processing, but there is also a subjective aspect... This subjective aspect is experience" [20]. His conclusion is that "an analysis of the problem shows us that conscious experience is just not the kind of thing that a wholly reductive account could succeed in explaining" [21].

 

Since reductive explanations fail to explain conscious experience, Chalmers firmly believes that "nonreductive explanation is the natural choice" [22]. According to Chalmers, "A nonreductive theory of experience will specify basic principles telling us how experience depends on physical features of the world. These psychophysical principles will not interfere with physical laws... Rather, they will be a supplement to a physical theory" [23].The special feature of conscious experience is that, in addition to the mechanical biological processing, there is also a non-mechanical aspect of subjectivity.According to Chhanda Chakraborti, Chalmers considers "consciousness is both a function of the brain and is irreducible to the physical" [24]. She raises "questions against the appropriateness of property dualism as the metaphysics for his theory of consciousness" [25]. Though Chalmers accepts that there are two kinds of properties, viz. physical and phenomenal, he considers that both are instantiated in the physical body. This implies dualism at the property level and monism at substance level [26].

 

In Sangeeta Menon's view, "the 'hard problem' gets harder when it comes to the 'experiencer' who has the consciousness experience. Hence the question 'who is having the conscious experience?' is more significant than 'what is it like to have a conscious experience?" [27]. She believes "the problem becomes complex when the relation between the experience and the experiencer is asked for" [28].