About this topic
Summary Qualia (singular: quale) are those properties of conscious mental states or events that determine 'what it is like' for the subject of those states or events to undergo them. Paradigm examples of qualia include the particular painfulness of some pain state, the sensation of being tickled, the taste of lemon, or the smell of fresh mown grass. Somewhat more contested examples might include 'primary qualities' presented in perception, such as shape or number; emotions such as feelings of elation or a sensation of creeping depression; or qualititive features that may accompany cognition (such as one's 'internal monologue', or the feeling of something being 'on the tip of one's tongue'). Even within the canonical range of qualia the notion is contested, and some argue that we cannot make clear sense of it at all. If it can be made sense of, then a key question is whether qualia are irreducibly nonphysical, or alternatively can be naturalised through reduction to or identification with some physical or functional property. Questions also arise about our knowledge of qualia (our own and others), and about the relationship between qualia and intentional content: qualia have often been thought of as non-intentional features of mental states, although this position has recently been widely challenged.
Key works C.I. Lewis is generally thought to have coined the term 'qualia' in Lewis 1956, while Dennett 1991 attempts to cast doubt on the coherence of the notion (and see also Rey 1998). Searle 1992 is a well known argument that all conscious mental states, including thoughts and occurrent beliefs, have a qualitative character (and see also Strawson 1994). Several lines of argument have been advanced to try and show that qualia cannot be physical, including the conceivability argument (Kripke 1980, Chalmers 1996), the knowledge argument (Nagel 1974Jackson 1982) and the explanatory gap argument (Levine 1983). Important physicalist responses include the proposal that qualia are naturalisable as a species of intentional property (e.g. Byrne 2001), and the 'phenomenal concepts' strategy that argues that the appearance of a gap between the physical and the phenomenal is merely conceptual and not ontological (Loar 1990).
Introductions Block 2004; Chalmers 1995Nagel 1974Harman 1990Dennett 1988; Shoemaker 1982
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  1. O Canada, o Quanta Qualia.William K. W. Li - 2012 - Ethics in Science and Environmental Politics 12 (1):1-4.
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  2. WRIGHT, E. (Ed.), The Case for Qualia, MIT, Cambridge (MA), 2009, 384 Pp. [REVIEW]Carlos Ortiz de Landázuri - 2009 - Anuario Filosófico 42 (3):701-704.
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  3. Idealism: Putting Qualia to Work.Michael Pelczar - 2020 - In _Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Consciousness_. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 328-347.
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  4. Revelation and the Appearance/Reality Distinction.Michelle Liu - forthcoming - Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Mind.
    It is often said that there is no appearance/reality distinction with respect to consciousness. Call this claim ‘NARD’. In contemporary discussions, NARD is closely connected to the thesis of revelation, the claim that the essences of phenomenal properties are revealed in experience, though the connection between the two requires clarification. This paper distinguishes different versions of NARD and homes in on a particular version that is closely connected to revelation. It shows how revelation and the related version of NARD pose (...)
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  5. A Calculus of Qualia 9 30 2022.Paul Merriam - manuscript
    The idea of this paper is to put actual qualia into equations (broadly understood) to get what might be called qualations. Qualations arguably have different meanings and truth behaviors than the analogous equations. For example, the term ‘ black ’ arguably has a different meaning and behavior than the term ‘ █ ’. This is a step in the direction of a ‘calculus of qualia’ and of expanding science to include 1st-person phenomena.
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  6. Intentionality, Qualia, and the Stream of Unconsciousness.Sam Coleman - 2022 - Phenomenology and Mind 22:42.
    According to Brentano, mentality is essentially intentional in nature. Other philosophers have emphasized the phenomenal-qualitative aspect of conscious experiences as core to the mind. A recent philosophical wave – the ‘phenomenal intentionality programme’ – seeks to unite these conceptions in the idea that mental content is grounded in phenomenal qualities. However, a philosophical and scientific current, which includes Freud and contemporary cognitive science, makes widespread use of the posit of unconscious mentality/mental content. I aim to reconcile these disparate, influential strands (...)
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  7. A Mental-Physical-Self Topology: The Answer Gleaned From Modeling the Mind-Body Problem.Christopher Morgan - 2022 - Metaphysica 23 (2):319-339.
    The mind-body problem is intuitively familiar, as mental and physical entities mysteriously interact. However, difficulties arise when intertwining concepts of the self with mental and physical traits. To avoid confusion, I propose instead focusing on three categories, with the mental matching the mind and physical the body with respect to raw inputs and outputs. The third category, the self, will experience and measure the others. With this new classification, we can see difficulties clearly, specifically five questions covering interaction and correlation. (...)
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  8. Qualia Ain't in the Head.David M. Annstrong - 1999 - Kriterion - Journal of Philosophy 13 (1):12-15.
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  9. Qualia Ain't in the Head.David M. Annstrong - 1999 - Kriterion - Journal of Philosophy 1 (13):12-15.
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  10. Four Clarifications on the Soft Problem of ‘Qualia as Illusions’.Paul Stenner - 2022 - Human Affairs 32 (3):328-333.
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  11. Corpo Funzionale E Corpo Senziente. La Tesi Forte Del Carattere Incarnato Della Mente in Fenomenologia.Andrea Pace Giannotta - 2022 - Rivista Internazionale di Filosofia e Psicologia 13 (1):41-56.
    In questo lavoro distinguo tra due versioni della tesi del carattere incarnato della mente: “debole” e “forte”. Secondo la versione debole, il possesso di stati mentali presuppone l’esistenza di un corpo che si muove ed agisce nell’ambiente, ossia un corpo funzionale. Secondo la versione forte, invece, il possesso di stati mentali presuppone l’esistenza di un corpo non solo funzionale ma anche senziente, ossia: il corpo come sede della sensibilità o coscienza fenomenica. Sostengo che alcuni approcci all’interno della “scienza cognitiva incarnata” (...)
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  12. Time, Consciousness and the Foundations of Science.Stephen Deiss - 2010 - Journal of Consciouness Exploration and Research 1 (5).
    This very brief but conceptually dense article provides a useful definition of consciousness, puts self consciousness into proper perspective, clarifies the nature of time, change and inertia, and ties consciousness to the foundations of physics as the inherent and fundamental process in nature. It is an implicit argument for a type of (proto) panpsychism or panexperientialism.
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  13. Sensing Qualia.Paul Skokowski - 2022 - Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience 16:1-16.
    Accounting for qualia in the natural world is a difficult business, and it is worth understanding why. A close examination of several theories of mind—Behaviorism, Identity Theory, Functionalism, and Integrated Information Theory—will be discussed, revealing shortcomings for these theories in explaining the contents of conscious experience: qualia. It will be argued that in order to overcome the main difficulty of these theories the senses should be interpreted as physical detectors. A new theory, Grounded Functionalism, will be proposed, which retains multiple (...)
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  14. A Sketch of a Kripkean Theory of Consciousnes.Federico Zilio - 2021 - Universa. Recensioni di Filosofia 10 (3):273-292.
    In this paper, I will propose a provisional blueprint of the notion of consciousness. I will start an analysis of the notion from the way we generally use the term “consciousness” in our ordinary language. In this regard, I will use Saul Kripke’s direct reference theory to define the term “consciousness” in a non-descriptive way, that is, interpreting it as a rigid designator. Then, I will critically discuss the idea of a necessary a posteriori relationship between consciousness and brain activity, (...)
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  15. Do Qualia Exist Necessarily? V. 2.0.Paul Merriam - manuscript
    Why is there something rather than nothing? I don’t know. But ‘nothing’ may not be the correct default state. It may be that the existence of possibilities requires fewer (weaker) assumptions. In this case, arguably, we should start with the existence of possibilities and not ‘nothing’. In this case, there exists the possibility of (for example) red qualia. But the possible existence of a red quale does not delineate what it is the possibility of if the possibility contains only a (...)
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  16. Chapter Fifteen Naturalizing Phenomenology? Dretske on Qualia.Ronald Mcintyre - 1999 - In Jean Petitot, Francisco J. Varela, Bernard Pachoud & Jean-Michel Roy (eds.), Naturalizing Phenomenology: Issues in Contemporary Phenomenology and Cognitive Science. Stanford University Press. pp. 429-439.
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  17. The Problem of Artificial Qualia.Wael Basille - 2021 - Dissertation, Sorbonne Université
    Is it possible to build a conscious machine, an artifact that has qualitative experiences such as feeling pain, seeing the redness of a flower or enjoying the taste of coffee ? What makes such experiences conscious is their phenomenal character: it is like something to have such experiences. In contemporary philosophy of mind, the question of the qualitative aspect of conscious experiences is often addressed in terms of qualia. In a pre-theoretical and intuitive sense, qualia refer to the phenomenal character (...)
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  18. Zombies, Functionalism and Qualia.Jim Stone - 2022 - Res Philosophica 99 (1):91-93.
    David Chalmers maintains there is a logically possible world where we all have physically and functionally identical twins without conscious experiences. Z entails that qualia are extra-physical, hence physicalism is false. I argue that his Zombie Argument fails on functionalist grounds. Qualia sometimes affect behavior or they never do. If they do affect behavior, they sometimes individuate functional states; hence my zombie twin cannot be functionally identical to me. To save ZA, we must support the second disjunct. This requires arguing (...)
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  19. Meaning and Context: A Brief Introduction.Cosmin Visan - 2021 - Journal of Consciousness Exploration & Research 12 (4):356-382.
    In searching for what is the most natural way to regard the world, it will be shown that existence is an interplay between meanings and contexts. This interplay takes the form of consciousness, which arises on top of an infinite ocean of formless contexts. Various aspects of meaning and context will be explored, going through the emergent structure of consciousness, self-reference, the contradictory nature of the formless realm and love as the ultimate context for existence. Given the infinite ramifications of (...)
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  20. On the Big Bang, Qualia, Einstein’s Train, Temporal Flow Rates, Existence, Free Will, Hard Problems, Etc.Paul Merriam -
    On Einstein's Train and the Big Bang in Fragmental Presentism, Temporal Flow Rates, Existence, Free Will, Qualia, Hard Problems, etc.
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  21. Peirce’s Legacy for Contemporary Consciousness Studies, the Emergence of Consciousness From Qualia, and its Evanescence in Habits.Winfried Nöth - 2021 - Semiotica 2021 (243):49-103.
    The paper argues that contemporary consciousness studies can profit from Charles S. Peirce’s philosophy of consciousness. It confronts mainstream tendencies in contemporary consciousness studies, including those which consider consciousness as an unsolvable mystery, with Peirce’s phenomenological approach to consciousness. Peirce’s answers to the following contemporary issues are presented: phenomenological consciousness and the qualia, consciousness as self-controlled agency of humans, self-control and self-reflection, consciousness and language, self-consciousness and introspection, consciousness and the other, consciousness of nonhuman animals, and the question of a (...)
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  22. Qualities and the Galilean View.Michelle Liu - 2021 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 28 (9-10):147-162.
    It is often thought that sensible qualities such as colours do not exist as properties of physical objects. Focusing on the case of colour, I discuss two views: the Galilean view, according to which colours do not exist as qualities of physical objects, and the naive view, according to which colours are, as our perception presents them to be, qualities instantiated by physical objects. I argue that it is far from clear that the Galilean view is better than the naive (...)
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  23. Physics, Time, and Qualia.M. Cortes & L. Smolin - 2021 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 28 (9-10):36-51.
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  24. Do Qualia Exist Necessarily?Paul Merriam - manuscript
    Why is there something rather than nothing? I don't know. But I give an argument that qualia exist *necessarily*. The *possibility* of the existence of red qualia requires actual red qualia to specify what the possibility is a possibility *of*.
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  25. On the Solutions to the Hard Problems.Paul Merriam - manuscript
    There is a profound difference between asking a 'hard problem' and asking a 'hard problem' that has qualia in the question. There are plausible answers to the former that are nevertheless clearly not answers to the latter. I give a method by which hard problems will be able to be solved, if possible. I speculate on the (possible) causal efficaciousness of consciousness in evolution and in quantum mechanics.
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  26. The Archeology of Qualia.Cosmin Visan - 2021 - Journal Of Anthropological And Archeological Sciences 4 (5):565-569.
    Researching into our past, scientists use different methods, from looking at the night sky to digging traces of our past and analyzing DNA. I propose here another method, that can have the potential of shedding more light into our history and the type of entities that we are. Working under philosophical idealism, I propose that evolution is in the first place the evolution of consciousness, and thus the traces of evolution are mostly not to be found in our physical bodies, (...)
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  27. Fragmental Presentism and Quantum Mechanics.Paul Merriam - 2021
    This paper develops a Fragmentalist theory of Presentism and shows how it can help to develop a interpretation of quantum mechanics. There are several fragmental interpretations of physics. In the interpretation of this paper, each quantum system forms a fragment, and fragment f1 makes a measurement on fragment f2 if and only if f2 makes a corresponding measurement on f1. The main idea is then that each fragment has its own present (or ‘now’) until a mutual quantum measurement—at which time (...)
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  28. The Consumer Society by Baudrillard : A Sociological Approach to Capitalism.Irfan Ajvazi - 2021 - Germany: Heisenberg Academy and Idea Books.
    Consumer society, by Jean Baudrillard, is a major contribution to contemporary sociology and philosophy, at the height of the Division of Labor Durkheim or The Protestant Ethic and the Ethics of Capitalism Weber.
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  29. Quantum Information in Neural Systems.Danko D. Georgiev - 2021 - Symmetry 13 (5):773.
    Identifying the physiological processes in the central nervous system that underlie our conscious experiences has been at the forefront of cognitive neuroscience. While the principles of classical physics were long found to be unaccommodating for a causally effective consciousness, the inherent indeterminism of quantum physics, together with its characteristic dichotomy between quantum states and quantum observables, provides a fertile ground for the physical modeling of consciousness. Here, we utilize the Schrödinger equation, together with the Planck-Einstein relation between energy and frequency, (...)
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  30. What's the Story With Blue Steak? On the Unexpected Popularity of Blue Foods.Charles Spence - 2021 - Frontiers in Psychology 12.
    Is blue food desirable or disgusting? The answer, it would seem, is both, but it really depends on the food in which the color happens to be present. It turns out that the oft-cited aversive response to blue meat may not even have been scientifically validated, despite the fact that blue food coloring is often added to discombobulate diners. In the case of drinks, however, there has been a recent growth of successful new blue product launches in everything from beer (...)
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  31. Equations, Qualia, and Qualations.Paul Merriam - manuscript
    Abstract to Equations, Qualia, and Qualations -/- With regard to consciousness, we could write an equation B = black. But it is possible to rewrite this using a quale, namely, B = █. This latter equation might be called a ‘qualation’. It has the same meaning regardless of the physiology that apprehends it. This article argues a whole theory of qualations could be developed. Further, to a Dualist, it could be that a materialist is convinced by materialist arguments involving the (...)
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  32. An Introduction to Dualism: The Mental to the Fore?Filippo Pelucchi -
    The contemporary debate around consciousness presents us (and often leads us to embrace) a specific current of thought: physicalism, which states that everything in our reality is physical1. In this paper I want to introduce the main points of the opposite view, dualism, according to which there are two different realms of reality: the mental and the physical one. In the introduction I give the main idea and sketch the general intuition behind dualism. In Section 1 I present substance dualism (...)
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  33. Quantum Information Theoretic Approach to the Mind–Brain Problem.Danko D. Georgiev - 2020 - Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology 158:16-32.
    The brain is composed of electrically excitable neuronal networks regulated by the activity of voltage-gated ion channels. Further portraying the molecular composition of the brain, however, will not reveal anything remotely reminiscent of a feeling, a sensation or a conscious experience. In classical physics, addressing the mind–brain problem is a formidable task because no physical mechanism is able to explain how the brain generates the unobservable, inner psychological world of conscious experiences and how in turn those conscious experiences steer the (...)
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  34. Quantum Information Theoretic Approach to the Mind–Brain Problem.Danko D. Georgiev - 2020 - Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology 158:16-32.
    The brain is composed of electrically excitable neuronal networks regulated by the activity of voltage-gated ion channels. Further portraying the molecular composition of the brain, however, will not reveal anything remotely reminiscent of a feeling, a sensation or a conscious experience. In classical physics, addressing the mind-brain problem is a formidable task because no physical mechanism is able to explain how the brain generates the unobservable, inner psychological world of conscious experiences and how in turn those conscious experiences steer the (...)
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  35. Motivation and Synopsis of the New Theory of Time.Paul Merriam - manuscript
    The motivation comes from the analogy (equivalence?) of the A-series to ontologically private qualia in Dualism. This leads to the proposal that two quantum systems, no matter how small, mutually observe each other when and only when they come to share the same A-series. McTaggart's A-series and B-series can be varied independently so they cannot be the same temporal variable.
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  36. Observations.Paul Merriam - manuscript
    Observations on qualia, death, free will, why there is something rather than nothing, and the Star Trek vs. the Star Wars debate.
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  37. A New Theory of Time 2 29 2020.Paul Merriam & Jeremy Horne - manuscript
    We motivate and develop a new theory of time and apply it to a few thought experiments in physics.
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  38. The Super Justification Argument for Phenomenal Transparency.Kevin Morris - 2022 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 65 (4):437-455.
    ABSTRACT In Consciousness and Fundamental Reality, Philip Goff argues that the case against physicalist views of consciousness turns on ‘Phenomenal Transparency’, roughly the thesis that phenomenal concepts reveal the essential nature of phenomenal properties. This paper considers the argument that Goff offers for Phenomenal Transparency. The key premise is that our introspective judgments about current conscious experience are ‘Super Justified’, in that these judgments enjoy an epistemic status comparable to that of simple mathematical judgments, and a better epistemic status than (...)
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  39. Does the Explanatory Gap Rest on a Fallacy?François Kammerer - 2018 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 10 (4):649-667.
    Many philosophers have tried to defend physicalism concerning phenomenal consciousness, by explaining dualist intuitions within a purely physicalist framework. One of the most common strategies to do so consists in interpreting the alleged “explanatory gap” between phenomenal states and physical states as resulting from a fallacy, or a cognitive illusion. In this paper, I argue that the explanatory gap does not rest on a fallacy or a cognitive illusion. This does not imply the falsity of physicalism, but it has consequences (...)
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  40. Locating Consciousness: Why Experience Can't Be Objectified.T. W. Clark - 2019 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 26 (11-12):60-85.
    The world appears to conscious creatures in terms of experienced sensory qualities, but science doesn't find sensory experience in that world, only physical objects and properties. I argue that the failure to locate consciousness in the world is a function of our necessarily representational relation to reality as knowers: we won't discover the terms in which reality is represented by us in the world as it appears in those terms. Qualia -- arguably a type of representational content -- will therefore (...)
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  41. Qualia.David Villena Saldaña - 2016 - Escritura y Pensamiento 39 (39):79-103.
    This paper shows why qualia constitute a problem for any theory of mental phenomena. We use the term ‘qualia’ in reference to non-intentional features of mental states which are eminently qualitative, i.e. perceptions, emotions, moods and body sensations. These non-intentional features are usually described as intrinsic, ineffable, infallible, atomic, private, direct and irreducible to the physical. The paper also explains the absent qualia argument which is addressed as a critique to functionalism.
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  42. Bayesing Qualia: Consciousness as Inference, Not Raw Datum.A. Clark, K. Friston & S. Wilkinson - 2019 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 26 (9-10):19-33.
    The meta-problem of consciousness (Chalmers, 2018) is the problem of explaining the behaviours and verbal reports that we associate with the so-called 'hard problem of consciousness'. These may include reports of puzzlement, of the attractiveness of dualism, of explanatory gaps, and the like. We present and defend a solution to the meta-problem. Our solution takes as its starting point the emerging picture of the brain as a hierarchical inference engine. We show why such a device, operating under familiar forms of (...)
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  43. Welcome to Strong Illusionism.Daniel C. Dennett - 2019 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 26 (9-10):48-58.
    David Chalmers underestimates the possibility that actually answering the 'hard question' will make both the hard problem and the meta-problem of consciousness evaporate.
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  44. Editorial Introduction: Debates on the Meta-Problem of Consciousness.F. Kammerer - 2019 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 26 (9-10):8-18.
  45. The Obscure Content of Hallucination.Marco Aurélio Sousa Alves - 2019 - Sofia 8 (1):30-53.
    Michael Tye proposed a way of understanding the content of hallucinatory experiences. Somewhat independently, Mark Johnston provided us with elements to think about the content of hallucination. In this paper, their views are compared and evaluated. Both their theories present intricate combinations of conjunctivist and disjunctivist strategies to account for perceptual content. An alternative view, which develops a radically disjunctivist account, is considered and rejected. Finally, the paper raises some metaphysical difficulties that seem to threaten any conjunctivist theory and to (...)
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  46. A Short Solution to the Hard Problem.A. T. Bollands - 2019 - The Philosophical Society Review 41.
    This very short paper provides a panpsychic solution to the Hard Problem of Consciousness. It was presented to the Philosophical Society of the Oxford University Department of Continuing Education (OUDCE) on 18th August 2019, and posted on Twitter (@ATBollands) on the 20th August, 2019. It solves the Hard Problem by 1) making the case for Panpsychism, and 2) solving the Combination Problem (Panpsychism's equivalent of the Hard Problem). -/- The paper aims to be clear, concise, to-the-point and accessible to the (...)
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  47. Explaining Representation: A Reply to Matthen.Frances Egan - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 170 (1):137-142.
    Mohan Matthen has failed to understand the position I develop and defend in “How to Think about Mental Content.” No doubt some of the fault lies with my exposition, though Matthen often misconstrues passages that are clear in context. He construes clarifications and elaborations of my argument to be “concessions.” Rather than dwell too much on specific misunderstandings of my explanatory project and its attendant claims, I will focus on the main points of disagreement.RepresentationalismMy project in the paper is to (...)
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  48. I Am.Cosmin Visan - 2019 - New York, Statele Unite ale Americii: Amazon.
    Consciousness is arguably the greatest mystery in science, still being unsolved after millennia of thinking. This book is one further attempt at trying to bring new insights regarding consciousness. While certainly the mystery will continue, the ideas in this book will raise awareness regarding an aspect of the phenomenology of consciousness that has been overlooked by past thinkers, and that is the emergent structure of consciousness, which in the end will be shown to be realized by the nature of self-reference (...)
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  49. The Illusion of Conscious Experience.François Kammerer - forthcoming - Synthese:1-22.
    Illusionism about phenomenal consciousness is the thesis that phenomenal consciousness does not exist, even though it seems to exist. This thesis is widely judged to be uniquely counterintuitive: the idea that consciousness is an illusion strikes most people as absurd, and seems almost impossible to contemplate in earnest. Defenders of illusionism should be able to explain the apparent absurdity of their own thesis, within their own framework. However, this is no trivial task: arguably, none of the illusionist theories currently on (...)
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  50. Color Relationism and Enactive Ontology.Andrea Pace Giannotta - 2018 - Phenomenology and Mind 14:56-67.
    In this paper, I present the enactive theory of color that implies a form of color relationism. I argue that this view constitutes a better alternative to color subjectivism and color objectivism. I liken the enactive view to Husserl’s phenomenology of perception, arguing that both deconstruct the clear duality of subject and object, which is at the basis of the other theories of color, in order to claim the co-constitution of subject and object in the process of experience. I also (...)
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