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An argument for idealism

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According to Russell, the intrinsic nature of the physical is the same as or deeply analogous to phenomenal qualities, those properties known through acquaintance in one's subjective experience. I defend his position and argue that it implies a kind of idealism, specifically the view that any intrinsic physical property instance can only exist as an object of acquaintance. This follows because a necessary feature of physicality is spatial location, and hence the intrinsic nature of the physical must share with phenomenal qualities whatever makes some of them suitable space occupants. That feature is their occupying phenomenal spaces. There are reasons for believing that it is conceptually impossible for there to be a phenomenal space without a subject acquainted with its contents. Therefore, intrinsic physical properties must be objects of acquaintance. This view is shown to be compatible with contemporary science, and a scientific idealist metaphysic is briefly sketched.
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Keywords: Lockwood (Michael); Russell (Bertrand); acquaintance; consciousness; fields; idealism; identity theory; metaphysics; mind-body problem; perception; phenomenal properties; phenomenal spaces; physical; qualia; subjective experience; subjects

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey 06531.

Publication date: 2001-04-01

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