A Physicalist Understanding of Phenomenal Consciousness


African Humanities Program Dissertation Fellowships




The old problem of the relationship between the mind and body in the philosophy of mind is revitalized in David Chalmers’ (1996) hard problems of consciousness. The hard problems, simply put, are in two strands. The first is the question of whether it is possible to separate all of the neuron firings, information processing, and behavioural responses of a mental experience, e.g. pain, from the phenomenal consciousness or qualia or “the raw feel” of pain. The second is the question on the relationship between these two (possibly separate) phenomena—the physical properties or processes and the qualia. These questions have been and are still being asked in different ways in the contemporary literature. This project argues that the neuroscientific representation of consciousness provides a basis for the physicalist understanding of consciousness, and, in a way, resolves the hard problem of consciousness.