The conscious mind unified

Dissertation, Baylor University (2020)
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Co-Directors: Alexander Pruss & Tim O’Connor Committee: C. Stephen Evan’s, Todd Buras, The current state of consciousness research is at an impasse. Neuroscience faces a variety of recalcitrant problems regarding the neurobiological binding together of states of consciousness. Philosophy faces the combination problem, that of holistically unifying phenomenal consciousness. In response, I argue that these problems all result from a naturalistic assumption that subjects of consciousness are built up out of distinct physical parts. I begin by developing a Husserlian mereology of part-whole relations, which I apply to both an ontology of the holistic unity of the subjects of consciousness and the holistic unity of phenomenal consciousness itself. After a detailed analysis of the ontology and neuroscience of phenomenally unified consciousness, I argue against the three major naturalist views: physicalism, Russellian panpsychism, and emergentism. I develop various arguments demonstrating that these views each fail to account for the possibility of subjects of phenomenally unified consciousness. In the final chapter, I show how these arguments entail that the subject of phenomenal unity must be partless, must be a simple holistic unity. In turn, this provides a defense of substance dualism or at least something near enough. Given the widespread rejection of mind-body dualism, I answer certain neurological objections and conclude by sketching the details of an underexplored neo-Aristotelian form of substance dualism. I conclude that each of us, indeed every subject of phenomenally unified consciousness, is not made up of distinct parts. Not a brain. Not a body. Every embodied subject of phenomenally unified consciousness is a bodily soul.



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Brandon Rickabaugh
Palm Beach Atlantic University

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Explaining the brain: mechanisms and the mosaic unity of neuroscience.Carl F. Craver - 2007 - New York : Oxford University Press,: Oxford University Press, Clarendon Press.
Consciousness and Fundamental Reality.Philip Goff - 2017 - New York, USA: Oup Usa.
The Epistemic Role of Consciousness.Declan Smithies - 2019 - New York, USA: Oxford University Press.
The Significance of Consciousness.Charles P. Siewert - 1998 - Princeton University Press.

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