Chaos and Consciousness

Dissertation, The University of Texas at Austin (1995)

In this dissertation, I argue that the mind-body problem is the result of seemingly incompatible intuitions regarding the mind and its nature. I suggest that the best approach to reconciling these intuitions and solving the mind-body problem is through the concept of emergence and the theory of chaotic nonlinear dynamical systems. I first review the historical intuitions about the mind that lead to the mind-body problem. I then examine the phenomenon of consciousness as the source of the problem, and I argue that four features of consciousness are the root of the problem: phenomenality and subjectivity, intentionality, the unity of consciousness, and introspectability. I next show that functionalism and connectionism are unable to solve the problem without additional resources. The central idea of the dissertation is then presented; this is the idea that the notion of emergence is superior to both reduction and functional realization as an account of the relation between mind and body, and that mental properties are emergent properties of the brain that arise because the brain is a chaotic nonlinear dynamical system. Finally, I conclude with an evaluation of the theory and a comparison of this result to other recent discussions of the mind-body problem
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