Towards a scientifically tenable description of objective idealism

Abstract

The tremendous advances of research into artificial intelligence as well as neuroscience made over the last two to three decades have given further support to a renewed interest into philosophical discussions of the mind-body problem. Especially the last decade has seen a revival of panpsychist and idealist considerations, often focused on solving philosophical puzzles like the socalled hard problem of consciousness.1–9 While a number of respectable philosophers advocate some sort of panpsychistic solution to the mind-body problem now, fewer advocate that idealism can contribute substantially to the debate. Interest in idealism has nevertheless risen again, as can be seen also from recent overview articles and collections of works.10–14 The working hypothesis here is that a properly formulated idealism can not only provide an alternative view of the mind/matter gap, but that this new view will also shed light on open questions in our common scientific, i.e. materialist, world view. To investigate this possibility, idealism first of all needs a model for the integration of modern science which allows for a mathematically consistent reinterpretation of the physical world as a limiting case of a both material and non-material world, which would make the outcome of idealistic considerations accessible to scientific investigation. To develop such a model I will first try to explain what I mean when I speak of a ‘scientifically tenable’ idealism, including a formulation of the emanation problem which for idealism replaces the interaction problem, then give a very brief summary of the available elements of such a theory in the philosophical literature, before sketching out some ‘design questions’ which have to be answered upon the construction of such models, and finally put forward a first model for a scientifically tenable objective idealism.

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Martin Korth
University of Münster

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