Understanding consciousness: beyond dualism and reductionism

Velmans, Max. 1999. Understanding consciousness: beyond dualism and reductionism. In: C. Taddei-Ferretti and C. Musio, eds. Neuronal Bases and Psychological Aspects of Consciousness. River Edge, New Jersey: New World Scientific Press, pp. 458-468. ISBN 9789810235970 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

To understand consciousness we must first describe what we experience accurately. However, classical Dualist vs Reductionist debates employ descriptions of ordinary experience which do not correspond to ordinary experience. According to Descartes consciousness is exemplified by "thought", but the phenomenology of thought does not exemplify much of experience. Reductionism claims that all experiences are nothing more than states or functions of the brain, but in common-sense terms this is even further from ordinary experience. It is argued that an understanding of consciousness must "preserve its appearances," and that this requires a reflexive model of how consciousness relates to the brain and physical world. Reductionist arguments conflate the causes and correlates of consciousness with its ontology. If these conflations are removed, reductionism cannot be made to work. The alternative is a nonreductionist science of consciousness with greater ecological validity, which would open up new questions for consciousness research.

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25 Apr 2019 10:53

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25 Apr 2019 10:53



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