Dualism, reductionism and reflexive monism

Velmans, Max. 2017. Dualism, reductionism and reflexive monism. In: Susan Schneider and Max Velmans, eds. The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness (2nd Edition). Chichester: Wiley Blackwell, pp. 349-362. ISBN 9780470674062 [Book Section]

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This chapter is an update of a chapter that appeared in the first edition of Velmans & Schneider (2007) The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness. It compares classical dualist and reductionist views of phenomenal consciousness with an alternative, reflexive way of viewing the relations amongst consciousness, brain and the external physical world. It argues that dualism splits the universe in two fundamental ways: in viewing phenomenal consciousness as having neither location nor extension it splits consciousness from the material world, and subject from object. Materialist reductionism views consciousness as a brain state or function (located and extended in the brain), which eliminates the consciousness/material world split, but retains the split of subject from object. The chapter argues that neither dualism nor reductionism accurately describes the phenomenal world; consequently, they each provide a misleading understanding of phenomenal consciousness. Reflexive monism follows the contours of everyday experience, thereby allowing a more unified understanding of how phenomenal consciousness relates to the brain and external physical world that is consistent both with the findings of science and with common sense. The chapter goes on to consider how phenomenal objects relate to real objects, perceptual projection, how phenomenal space relates to physical space, whether the brain is in the world or the world in the brain, and why this matters for science.

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May 2017Published

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20 Mar 2019 12:32

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15 Apr 2019 13:44



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