On The Infinitely Hard Problem Of Consciousness

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (2):211 - 228 (2011)

Abstract

I show that the recursive structure of Leibniz's Law requires agents to perform infinitely many operations to psychologically identify the referents of phenomenal and physical concepts, even though the referents of ordinary concepts (e.g. Hesperus and Phosphorus) can be identified in a finite number of steps. The resulting problem resembles the hard problem of consciousness in the fact that it appears (and indeed is) unsolvable by anyone for whom it arises, and in the fact that it invites dualist and eliminativist responses. Moreover, if this is the hard problem then we can predict that regardless of the strength of the argument for physicalism, and regardless of physicalism's truth, an ineliminable dissatisfaction is bound to accompany any physicalist theory of consciousness. Accordingly, I suggest that this is the hard problem of consciousness, and therefore that the hard problem arises from a recursively degenerate application of Leibniz's Law

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Bernard Molyneux
University of California, Davis

References found in this work

What is It Like to Be a Bat?Thomas Nagel - 1974 - Philosophical Review 83 (October):435-50.
Epiphenomenal Qualia.Frank Jackson - 1982 - Philosophical Quarterly 32 (April):127-136.
Attitudes de Dicto and de Se.David Lewis - 1979 - Philosophical Review 88 (4):513-543.

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