Entropy 23 (9) (2021)

Authors
Garrett Mindt
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Abstract
The hard problem of consciousness has been a perennially vexing issue for the study of consciousness, particularly in giving a scientific and naturalized account of phenomenal experience. At the heart of the hard problem is an often-overlooked argument, which is at the core of the hard problem, and that is the structure and dynamics (S&D) argument. In this essay, I will argue that we have good reason to suspect that the S&D argument given by David Chalmers rests on a limited conception of S&D properties, what in this essay I’m calling extrinsic structure and dynamics. I argue that if we take recent insights from the complexity sciences and from recent developments in Integrated Information Theory (IIT) of Consciousness, that we get a more nuanced picture of S&D, specifically, a class of properties I’m calling intrinsic structure and dynamics. This I think opens the door to a broader class of properties with which we might naturally and scientifically explain phenomenal experience, as well as the relationship between syntactic, semantic, and intrinsic notions of information. I argue that Chalmers’ characterization of structure and dynamics in his S&D argument paints them with too broad a brush and fails to account for important nuances, especially when considering accounting for a system’s intrinsic properties. Ultimately, my hope is to vindicate a certain species of explanation from the S&D argument, and by extension dissolve the hard problem of consciousness at its core, by showing that not all structure and dynamics are equal.
Keywords consciousness   physicalism   structure and dynamics   hard problem   complexity   Integrated Information Theory   intrinsic   extrinsic   meaning
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