Consciousness: Removing the Hardness and Solving the Problem

Shand, John (2021). Consciousness: Removing the Hardness and Solving the Problem. Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia, 77(4) pp. 1279–1296.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.17990/rpf/2021_77_4_1279

Abstract

The ‘hard’ problem of consciousness is the seemingly intractable one of explaining the properties of consciousness in terms of the properties of physical objects. This is often seen mistakenly as a metaphysical problem, whereby the properties of physical things are of such a nature and so unlike mental properties that it is difficult to understand how the physical could ever explain consciousness. This view of the physical is not however the true reason for the hardness of the problem, rather it is epistemic, that of defining the physical as those features of the world that may be known objectively, coupled with the contention that only those objectively known properties are real. This makes the explanation of subjective consciousness in terms physical properties not just hard but impossible. The answer is to hold that the world is indeed all physical, but have the physical no longer defined as what may be known only objectively, and hold that some physical properties may be known subjectively. This eliminates the hard problem of consciousness as it is no longer required that the explanation of subjective properties of physical things be in terms of the objective properties of physical things.

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