Towards a Neutral-Structuralist Theory of Consciousness and Selfhood

International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 35 (3):243-259 (2022)
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Recently, an information-theoretic structural realist theory of the self and consciousness has been put forward (Beni, M. D. 2019. Structuring the Self, Series New Directions in Philosophy and Cognitive Science. Palgrave Macmillan). The theory is presented as a form of panpsychism. I argue against this interpretation and show that Beni’s structuralist theory runs into the hard problem of consciousness, in a similar way as the Integrated Information theory of consciousness. Since both of these theories are structuralist and based on the notion of information, I propose to use a solution that has been employed for Integrated Information Theory, namely introducing the distinction between extrinsic and intrinsic structure and dynamics (intrinsic information and intrinsic structure). Making these metaphysical enhancements to Beni’s structuralist theory of consciousness will give the theory a better chance of overcoming the hard problem. In terms of the metaphysics of consciousness, it takes us beyond physicalism. I then suggest that the information-theoretic structuralist theory of consciousness should, instead of panpsychism and physicalism, be combined with neutral monist ontology which is a better fit. These reworkings could lead to an improved naturalistic account of consciousness – the neutral-structuralist theory of consciousness and the self.

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Janko Nešić
University of Belgrade

Citations of this work

The Curious Incident of Indistinguishable Selves A Reply to Nešić.Majid D. Beni - 2022 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 35 (3):261-268.

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