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Reflexive Monism

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Abstract:

Reflexive monism is, in essence, an ancient view of how consciousness relates to the material world that has, in recent decades, been resurrected in modern form. In this paper I discuss how some of its basic features differ from both dualism and variants of physicalist and functionalist reductionism, focusing on those aspects of the theory that challenge deeply rooted presuppositions in current Western thought. I pay particular attention to the ontological status and seeming 'out-thereness' of the phenomenal world and to how the 'phenomenal world' relates to the 'physical world', the 'world itself', and processing in the brain. In order to place the theory within the context of current thought and debate, I address questions that have been raised about reflexive monism in recent commentaries and also evaluate competing accounts of the same issues offered by 'transparency theory' and by 'biological naturalism'. I argue that, of the competing views on offer, reflexive monism most closely follows the contours of ordinary experience, the findings of science, and common sense.

Keywords: Consciousness; biological naturalism; brain; dualism; functionalism; information; measured space; monism; perceptual projection; phenomenal space; phenomenal world; physical space; physical world; physicalism; reductionism; reflexive; space perception; universe itself; world itself

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Goldsmiths, University of London, Email: m.velmans@gold.ac.uk

Publication date: January 1, 2008

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