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Reflexive Monism Psychophysical Relations among Mind, Matter, and Consciousness

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This paper provides an initial, multidimensional map of the complex relationships among consciousness, mind, brain, and the external world in a way that both follows the contours of everyday experience and the findings of science. It then demonstrates how this reflexive monist map can be used to evaluate the utility and resolve some of the oppositions of the many other 'isms' that currently populate consciousness studies. While no conventional, one-dimensional 'ism' such as physicalism can do justice to this web of relationships, physicalism, functionalism, dualism, neutral monism, and dualaspect monism can all be seen to provide useful ways of understanding different aspects of the relationships among consciousness, mind, brain, and the external world when these are viewed in either a firstor a third-person way from within this web of relationships by sentient creatures such as ourselves. For example, physicalism and functionalism provide a useful understanding of consciousness, mind, brain, and the external world when viewed from a third-person perspective, while neutral monism provides a useful way of understanding firstversus third-person views of external phenomena. On the other hand, dual-aspect monism provides a useful way of understanding first- versus third-person views of mind, including eastern versus western views of mind. Dual-aspect monism also provides a useful understanding of the 'unconscious ground of being' that gives rise to, supports, and embeds all these observable phenomena. For an integrated understanding one needs to understand how these phenomena and relationships combine into an integrated whole.

Document Type: Research Article

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Publication date: January 1, 2012


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