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Can phenomenal qualities exist unperceived

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Michael Lockwood has in recent years revived and defended a unique approach to the mind/body problem most famously associated with Bertrand Russell. This approach has a number of surprising and counterintuitive features, not the least of which is that it involves the claim that phenomenal qualities (sense-data or qualia) can exist independently of any mind, unperceived by any conscious subject. In this paper I first provide a summary of the Russell/Lockwood theory of mind so as to make evident the importance of this claim to it. I then argue that Lockwood has failed to show either that there are such things as unperceived phenomenal qualities, or that it makes sense to suppose that there could be. The importance of the issue lies in the light consideration of it may shed on the concept of a phenomenal quality or quale, in its relevance to the mind/body problem, and in its bearing on the more general metaphysical issue of what are the fundamental constituents of reality.
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Keywords: Bertrand Russell; Michael Lockwood; Qualia; phenomenal qualities; sense data

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA.

Publication date: 1998-04-01

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