Consciousness and causation in Whitehead's phenomenology of becoming
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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In Michel Weber & Anderson Weekes (eds.), Process Approaches to Consciousness in Psychology, Neuroscience, and Philosophy of Mind. State University of New York Press (2010)
The problem causation poses is: how can we ever know more than a Humean regularity. The problem consciousness poses is: how can subjective phenomenal experience arise from something lacking experience. A recent turn in the consciousness debates suggest that the hard problem of consciousness is nothing more than the Humean problem of explaining any causal nexus in an intelligible way. This involution of the problems invites comparison with the theories of Alfred North Whitehead, who also saw them related in this way. According to Whitehead, a tempting but false phenomenology of consciousness obscures temporality and leads to the causation problem, which then makes consciousness itself seem causally inexplicable. Bringing the processual nature of consciousness back into view discloses causation at work in the moment-to-moment emergence of consciousness, and it reveals that causation operates in a logically fuzzy domain where the skeptical critique of causality finds no foothold.
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