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There are no easy problems of consciousness

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This paper challenges David Chalmers’ proposed division of the problems of consciousness into the ‘easy’ ones and the ‘hard’ one, the former allegedly being susceptible to explanation in terms of computational or neural mechanisms and the latter supposedly turning on the fact that experiential ‘qualia’ resist any sort of functional definition. Such a division, it is argued, rests upon a misrepresention of the nature of human cognition and experience and their intimate interrelationship, thereby neglecting a vitally important insight of Kant. From a Kantian perspective, our capacity for conceptual thought is so inextricably bound up with our capacity for phenomenal consciousness that it is an illusion to imagine that there are any ‘easy’ problems of consciousness, resolvable within the computational or neural paradigms.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, University of Durham, Durham, UK.

Publication date: March 1, 1995

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