ON THE WAY TOWARDS EXPLAINING OF CONSCIOUSNESS

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Transliteration of original Title: 
Na puti k ob’yasneniyu soznaniya
Author(s): 
Dmitry Ivanov
Institute of Philosophy, Russian Academy of Sciences
Issue number: 
No. 2 (Vol. 44)
Pages: 
20-30
Abstract: 

The article deals with the problem of consciousness. It is the problem of providing naturalistic explanation of phenomenal aspects of our conscious experience. Today many philosophers believe that such explanation is impossible. According to them, we can’t reduce phenomenal qualities of conscious states, or qualia, to physical or functional properties of our body. The main idea of the paper is that to move forward towards explanation of consciousness we should answer the question whether qualia are intrinsic properties of conscious states instead of discussing whether they are reducible to physical or functional characteristics. If qualia are intrinsic properties then the inverted spectrum scenario must be conceivable. In the paper it is demonstrated that this scenario is inconceivable. We can demonstrate this inconceivability appealing to Wittgenstein’s critics of the theory of private language and using his arguments such as, for example, “beetle in the box” argument. If qualia are not intrinsic properties of conscious states then we must try to explain the phenomenal aspects of conscious experience using the concept of intentionality (or mental representation). Following Gilbert Harman, it is proposed to consider qualia as relational properties of represented objects and treat conscious states as representational states. This approach allows us to provide naturalistic explanation of consciousness. In conclusion it is argued that these representational states belong not to the brain alone but to the whole body that involved in complex relationship with environment.

Keywords: 
philosophy of mind, the problem of consciousness, phenomenal consciousness, qualia, inverted spectrum argument, intentionality, mental representation, representationalism
References: 

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DOI: 
10.5840/eps20154422
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