PHIL 255: Philosophy of Mind, Week 13

Finale and review

Phenomenology: Varela and Shear

The hard problem is insoluble, but consciousness can be investigated through philosophical methods.


Phenomenological approach assumes the irreducible nature of consciousness, unlike functionalism and reductionism.

Phenomenology is a special type of reflection originated by Husserl.

Use introspection and intuition systematically.

Phenomenological accounts of the structure of experience and their counterparts in cognitive science relate to each other through mutual constraints.


Eastern philosophy (Buddhist, etc.): The surface phenomena of consciousness emerge from deeper structures of consciousness which can be experienced directly.

Use meditation as a method of understanding consciouss experience.

Problems with the method of phenomenology

Introspection and intuition are limited in telling us much about consciousness.

Lack of intersubjective reliability.

Chalmers' Response

The easy problems concern the performance of various functions, but the hard problem asks: Why is the performance of a function associated with consciousness?

Damasio's answer: because consciousness enables us to perform the function of image processing better.

Consciousness is not like life, heat, or other natural phenomena that scientists have figured out.

There is no reason to believe that consciousness is identical to physical properties.

Chalmers does not discuss emergentism, dislikes mysterianism and epiphenomenalism, but seems to like panpsychism. He advocates sophisticated phenomenological studies.


Review questions for the final exam.

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