Philosophy Consciousness Term Paper

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Chalmer's Argument

The problem of consciousness, in short, is that there is a gap between any posited physical explanation and the actual subconscious or immaterial experience of the phenomena, i.e. Of the subconscious act itself. The one does not adequately lead onto, or conclusively latch onto, the other, but once one recognizes this problem one may conclude as McGinn (1989) does that our human mind is unable, due to its limitations, to deal with this quandary and we may be reluctant to pursue it further. Offering a way out, Chalmer, therefore, recommends adopting a nonreductive explanation where a naturalistic account of consciousness based on principles of structural coherence and invariant organization as well as a double-aspect view of information may pose as more insightful explanations for the why's and wherefores of consciousness.

The problem of consciousness involves the following: the brain is reducibly matter as so is the other organs of the body. How is its possible then that our senses such as visual, kinesthetic, auditory, and so forth can proceed from this material tangible matter? How is it possible that our cognitive ability can emanate from something that appears like meat and is material in all its aspects? From whence this stream of consciousness? Or our emotions? Or other abstract entities such as our ability to be carried away by some phenomena such as music or a piece of art? Or to imagine? Or to engage in qualitative and rich experiences that transcend the banality and one-dimensionality of an earthbound tangible world. It is well-known and certain that experience arises from a physical basis, but as yet no suitable explanation has been produced for the connecting link or for how the link came about. Usually conceptualized as 'qualia' or 'phenomenal consciousness, Chalmer prefers to refer to it as 'conscious experience' or simply 'experience'

The explanations commonly used to address it are the following:

1. The neurobiological theory of consciousness posited by Crick and Koch (1990) who suggest that certain neural oscillations in the cerebral cortex are the explanandum for consciousness due to the fact that the oscillations seem to exist with other sensory features such as the olfactory and visual systems and because they may serve to explain binding conditions. Binding refers to the process where several sensory systems are coupled and synchronized. The problem is that although, Crick and Koch (1990) may have discovered the mechanisms behind 'binding', they have failed to explain why binding, or these neural oscillations, result in consciousness, nor why something that is cerebral results in the qualitative experience of 'qualia'.

2. Cognitive psychology represented by Baars' global workspace theory of consciousness where Baars analogizes consciousness to being housed in a sort of global or neural workspace which mediates, and is placed in the central location of numerous other specialized nonconsious processors. This 'qualia' sensation in the central workspace enables communication to and from and between the other processors. Unfortunately, this theory, although serving well as descriptive analogy fails to provide explanandum of why this qualia exists in the global workspace and how it can bind as well as travel to and from the various neural processors.

3. Evolutionary models: These include the 'neural Darwinism' model of Edellman, and the "intermediate level" theory of Jackendoff, which describes computational processes that underlie consciousness both of which fail to describe the why's of the qualia phenomenon.

4. Denial: Linked to positive empiricism, hard-core realists insist that anything that is compelled to rely on metaphysical explanations instead of exclusively reducing itself to empirical phenomena deserves to be ignored. . Obviously these approaches are ultimately unsatisfactory in this case.

Other ingredients posed for the manifestation of the experience include algorithmic processing by Penrose; the function of nonlinear and chaotic dynamics; and, most popular of all, the theory of quantum mechanism. All, however, fail to explain why these specific processes consequent in and eventuate in this subconscious experience.

It was for this reason that McGinn (1989), for example explains that our human mind is too limited from grasping abstract transcendental matters that are beyond us and that we will, therefore, remain 'cognitively closed' to ever grasping this and similar phenomenon.

Chalmers, however, believes that accepting this argument means surrendering prematurely.

Approaching the matter from a different perspective, he recommends accepting the experience of…

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