A Framework for Critical Materialists

Mind and Matter 12 (1):93-118 (2014)

Robert Prentner
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich
This contribution discusses a materialist framework for addressing conscious experience. In the first part of the paper the structure of this framework is laid out. Several explananda of consciousness are identified that materialists should try to relate to an under- lying substrate by identity statements, reductions, or functional descriptions. Most important for giving a satisfactory explanation of consciousness are accounts of why these relations hold (e.g., by nomological necessity) or how they can be embedded in a part- whole ontology (mereology). A way to achieve this is discussed in the second part of the paper. Drawing from the philosophy of science, the importance of model building is stressed. Analogies play a crucial role here. A position in the philosophy of mind for which analogies seem particularly important is panpsychism. The relation between analogies and arguments for panpsychism is studied systematically and with respect to historical examples. It will be argued that a particular class of analogies is important, not only for panpsychism, but for a science of consciousness as such. The two-step argument presented in favor of such analogies roughly reads: (i) some analogies are important for any kind of model in science, and (ii) such analogies must therefore not be neglected. In the philosophy of mind, those are identified to be structural ones. The article concludes with a formulation of research questions for the future. Emphasis is placed on the necessity to formalize the explananda of consciousness, as well as mereological and analogical arguments to arrive at a coherent concept of mind-matter relations.
Keywords Consciousness  Materialism  Analogies  Panpsychism
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Chemistry, Context and the Objects of Thought.Robert Prentner - 2017 - Foundations of Chemistry 19 (1):29-41.

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