Radical Nature: Consciousness All the Way Down. Integrating Different Worldviews on Mind and Body Through a Radical Revision of Ontology and Epistemology: Recognizing the Primacy of Process, Feeling, and Intersubjectivity

Dissertation, California Institute of Integral Studies (2000)

Cracking the "hard problem" in philosophy of mind---how consciousness is related to the physical world---will require a radical revision of ontology and epistemology. Success in solving the philosophical "mind-body problem" will depend on how well ontology naturalizes the mind while recognizing its irreducibility to matter. Success in developing a true science of consciousness will depend on how well epistemology integrates first-person subjectivity and second-person intersubjectivity with third-person objectivity. In both cases---ontology and epistemology---success will mean recognizing the primacy of process and intersubjective feeling. ;Ontology and epistemology are inseparable. To investigate and understand the nature of reality---specifically, the relation between mind and matter, subject and object---requires a radical revision of the metaphysical assumptions underlying the dominant worldview in contemporary philosophy and science, and a radical revision in our ways of knowing. ;The "mind-body problem" has been a perennial challenge in philosophy for hundreds of years, and is the key problem in contemporary philosophy of mind. Nearly two-hundred years ago, Schopenhauer called it the "world-knot," and recently David Chalmers called it the "hard problem." Various solutions have been proposed, the most dominant being: dualism, materialism, and idealism. Each of these "solutions" fails because of its own peculiar logical flaw. ;In dualism, it is the problem of interaction; in materialism, it is the problem of emergence; in idealism, it is the problem of emanation . Two other solutions have been offered: neutral monism and panpsychism. Neutral monism is problematic because it merely disguises the original "knot" by burying it. On examination, this position turns out to be either a form of panpsychism or to suffer from one or more of the problems of interaction, emergence, and emanation. ;According to this work, the most coherent solution to the mind-body problem is to be found in a version of panpsychism---called here "radical naturalism"---which asserts that both matter and consciousness "go all the way down" and are mutually co-creative. In short, matter itself is intrinsically sentient. The central claim of this thesis is that it is inconceivable that subjectivity could ever emerge or evolve from wholly objective, insentient matter-energy
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