The Real Combination Problem: Panpsychism, Micro-Subjects, and Emergence

Erkenntnis (1):1-26 (2013)
Abstract
Taking their motivation from the perceived failure of the reductive physicalist project concerning consciousness, panpsychists ascribe subjectivity to fundamental material entities in order to account for macro-consciousness. But there exists an unresolved tension within the mainstream panpsychist position, the seriousness of which has yet to be appreciated. I capture this tension as a dilemma, and offer advice to panpsychists on how to resolve it. The dilemma is as follows: Panpsychists take the micro-material realm to feature phenomenal properties, plus micro-subjects to whom these properties belong. However, it is impossible to explain the generation of a macro-subject (like one of us) in terms of the assembly of micro-subjects, for, as I show, subjects cannot combine. Therefore the panpsychist explanatory project is derailed by the insistence that the world’s ultimate material constituents are subjects of experience. The panpsychist faces a choice of giving up her explanatory ambitions, or of giving up the claim that the ultimates are subjects. I argue that the latter option is preferable, leading to neutral monism, on which phenomenal qualities are irreducible but subjects are reducible. So panpsychists should be neutral monists.
Keywords Panpsychism  Neutral monism  consciousness  combination problem
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DOI 10.1007/s10670-013-9431-x
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References found in this work BETA
David J. Chalmers (2002). Does Conceivability Entail Possibility? In Tamar S. Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.), Conceivability and Possibility. Oxford University Press 145--200.

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Jiri Benovsky (2015). Dual‐Aspect Monism. Philosophical Investigations 38 (4).

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2013-02-24
You are definitely right in your skepticism about the possibility of the unification of many micro-consciousnesses into macro-consciousness. However, it is surprising for me that overhelming majority of philosophers ignore the possibility that human consciousness is among these micro-consciousnesses. In my paper http://philpapers.org/rec/ARGNCO I argue that even a single electron might contain the whole current human experience (without long- and mid-term memory). I suggest a hypothesis, where such electrons might be located in a real brain