Saturday, 8 January 2011

The Primacy of Experience

Below you'll find my latest would-be contribution to the philosophical community. A paper on the mind-body problem - the final exam in my first 3 years of philosophy studies at Copenhagen University - written with what it is in mind, and from a point of view that takes itself for what it is, a point of view.

UPDATE (Jan. 11th 2011): I flunked it - so it's gotta be good...
UPDATE (Jun. 17th 2011): Of course, my mistake was thinking, that bridging philosophical traditions was acceptable in a project of this scope. I was wrong. But maybe crucially, now that I didn't conform to the formal project requirements, what I had to do to get it approved, was successfully show the main claim - that what we call the 'word' is not that which we call the 'thing'. Now, for something to be shown, someone has to see it; they couldn't see it. Maybe quoting Wittgenstein would have helped me out: "Don't think, look!" Because this fundamental distinction is not something that can just be proven with language, it has to be seen. Beyond this, I've noticed some cognitive short-circuits on my part, like when I account for the classical conception of knowledge on page 10. I've written "classical conception of truth" - it should have said "knowledge" of course.

‘The Hard Problem of Consciousness’ is a multifaceted problem. Among the questions it poses we find one that seems to dwarf all the others: how does experience arise from non-experiencing entities? This question is based on two metaphysical assumptions (1) that matter is completely void of any experiential properties and that (2) it is somehow more fundamental than experience. A theory that claims to solve the hard problem is satisfactory only if it can account for these assumptions.

Through a phenomenological exploration of consciousness and its relationship to matter, and a critical examination of the foundations of the traditional conceptions of mind and matter, this project is intended to show that (1) ‘qualia’ is an ontologically valid term, (2) that what it denotes is a fundamental aspect of the universe, and (3) that any remotely satisfactory theory of consciousness will have to acknowledge qualia as such fundamental.

If you're interested in a more analytical exploration of the terrain of the mind-body problematic, I highly recommend Unsnarling the World-Knot by David Ray Griffin. A must read for anyone who likes to think that this mystery we call the universe is basically composed of insentient chunks of matter.

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