A Commonsense Objection to Reductive Materialist Explanations of Consciousness

Materialism, at its simplest, asserts that all things are physical in nature, and nothing more than physical. Consciousness, then, will someday be reduced to nothing more than physical relations instantiated in the brain. The problem herein lies with the respective perspectives of consciousness and physics. To quote Chalmers (again): “Experience is information from the inside; physics is information from the outside.” All that physics tells us is the relations between entities, from the third-person. For example, a proton is defined only by how it interacts with other entities.  Physics has nothing to say about what a proton is, in the simplest sense of the word. For all we care, it could be an amorphous blob that has the charge, mass, etc. of what we call a proton. Conscious experience, on the other hand, is directly linked to these intrinsic qualities, or what it is like to be something, from a first-person perspective. Why, then, would we ever expect physics to reveal consciousness to us?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s