The Meta-Problem is The Problem of Consciousness

Journal of Consciousness Studies 26 (9-10):83-94 (2019)
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The meta-problem of consciousness prompts the metaquestion: is it the only problem consciousness poses? If we could explain all our phenomenal intuitions in topic-neutral terms, would anything remain to be explained? Realists say yes, illusionists no. In this paper I defend the illusionist answer. While it may seem obvious that there is something further to be explained -- consciousness itself -- this seemingly innocuous claim immediately raises a further problem -- the hard meta-problem. What could justify our continued confidence in the existence of consciousness once all our intuitions about it have been explained away? The answer would involve heavy-duty metaphysical theorizing, probably including a commitment either to substance dualism or to the existence of a mysterious intrinsic subjectivity. A far less extravagant option is to endorse the illusionist response and conclude that the meta-problem is not a meta-problem at all but the problem of consciousness.



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Keith Frankish
University of Sheffield

Citations of this work

Acquaintance.Matt Duncan - 2021 - Philosophy Compass 16 (3):e12727.
Debunking Arguments for Illusionism about Consciousness.David Chalmers - 2020 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 27 (5-6):258-281.
The Bodily Theory of Pain.Erlend Winderen Finke Owesen - forthcoming - Review of Philosophy and Psychology:1-19.

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