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Consciousness: inexplicable -- and useless too?

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The problem of consciousness arises when we accept that humans are subject to conscious experiences, and that these experiences resist explanations of a kind that other puzzling phenomena permit. I first consider the case that such experiences exist and then the reasons for taking a pessimistic view of our chances of explaining them. I argue that the fact that conscious experience is ineffable makes the problem even harder than Chalmers allows, as it undermines a presentation of the problem of reductive explanation in this case. The fact that conscious phenomena require a first-person perspective provides a further reason for taking a pessimistic view of the chances for the kind of theory that Chalmers seeks. In a final section I consider what form solutions to the problem, as revised, might take.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK.

Publication date: January 1, 1998


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