The Philosophers' Magazine 18:15-16 (2002)

Nicholas Maxwell
University College London
How can we understand our human world, embedded as it is within the physical universe, in such a way that justice is done to both the richness, meaning and value of human life on the one hand, and what modern science tells us about the physical universe on the other hand? I argue that, in order to solve this problem, we need to see physics as being concerned only with a highly selected aspect of reality – that aspect which determines how events unfold – the causally efficacious aspect. Physics cannot describe the experiential, and if it is extended so that it does so, physical theory would cease to be explanatory. The human world can, however, be understood in terms of a different kind of explanation, which I call “personalistic”. This is not reducible to physical explanation. The world is, in short, riddled with what may be called “double comprehensibility”.
Keywords Physics  Physicialism  Experiential world  Human world  Explanation  Anti-reductionism  Mind-body problem  Perceptual qualities
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ISBN(s) 1354-814X
DOI tpm20021874
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