Dual Aspectivity and the Expressive Moments of Illumination: Rethinking the Explanatory Gap

Axiomathes:1-16 (forthcoming)

In Cognitive science and philosophy of consciousness, the explanatory gap, following Joseph Levine, refers to the unintelligible link between our conscious mental life and its corresponding objective physical explanation; the gap in our understanding of how consciousness is related to a physical or a physiological substrate :354–361, 1983). David Chalmers holds the explanatory gap as the evidence for a form of metaphysical dualism between consciousness and physical reality. On the other hand, McGinn takes it as an epistemic rather than an ontological gap. Considering the recent advances in neuroscience, however, the reductionist approaches have become replete, which attempt to reduce consciousness and subjectivity to neurobiological accounts. On this view, consciousness mirrors the brain mechanisms, and the self is formulated as an illusory product or construct of neuronal processes. Thomas Fuchs, who is committed to embodied and enactive approaches toward cognition, in Ecology of the Brain, espouses an enactive-ecological perspective concerning the problem of the explanatory gap. He develops an account of human’s life in its dual aspects of the living body and lived body which, on the one hand, defies the ontological dualism and, on the other hand, avoids drifting towards any form of reductionism. Often, the ontologically monistic approaches to the explanatory gap have inclined to a form of reductionism because they conceive consciousness as either identical with its physiological substrate or caused by it, where in both cases, consciousness is claimed to be explainable within the framework of physicalism. Fuchs, however, defends an ontological monism which remains irreconcilable with reductionism. In his account of dual aspects, there is no interaction or impact between the sphere of subjectivity and nature; however, these two aspects imply one another. In this essay, I will develop the philosophical justification of the above reformulation of the mind–body problem and employing the analogy of light will canvass the paradoxical relationship between dual aspects in a phenomenological framework.
Keywords Dual Aspectivity  Enactivism  Explanatory Gap  Mind-Body Problem  Thomas Fuchs  Phenomenology  Husserl  Cognitive Science
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DOI 10.1007/s10516-020-09473-z
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