Science in Context 33 (1):1-18 (2020)

Abstract
ArgumentIn this paper I present an interpretation of du Bois-Reymond’s thesis on the impossibility of a scientific explanation of consciousness and of its present importance. I reconsider du Bois-Reymond’s speech “On the limits of natural science” in the context of nineteenth-century German philosophy and neurophysiology, pointing out connections and analogies with contemporary arguments on the “hard problem of consciousness.” Du Bois-Reymond’s position turns out to be grounded on an epistemological argument and characterized by a metaphysical skepticism, motivated by the unfruitful speculative tendency of contemporary German philosophy and natural science. In the final sections, I show how contemporary research can benefit from a reconsideration of this position and its context of emergence, which is a good vantage point to trace open problems in consciousness studies back to their historical development.
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DOI 10.1017/s0269889720000095
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References found in this work BETA

On a Confusion About a Function of Consciousness.Ned Block - 1995 - Brain and Behavioral Sciences 18 (2):227-–247.
Idealism and the Mind-Body Problem.David Chalmers - 2019 - In William Seager (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Panpsychism. New York: Routledge. pp. 353-373.
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.John Locke - 1979 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 169 (2):221-222.
Can We Solve the Mind-Body Problem?Colin McGinn - 1989 - Mind 98 (July):349-66.
The 'Mental' and the 'Physical'.Herbert Feigl - 1958 - Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science 2:370-497.

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