Panpsychism, Neutral Monism, And the Need for a New Synthesis
MetadataShow full item record
IntroductionIn recent debate surrounding theory of mind, there seems to be a significant concern, for some even a disdain, regarding mainstream physicalism. This is the thesis that the entities described by physics make up all there is in the world, which is a mainstream view for good reason. Yet as a result, mind and experience are entirely reducible to physical processing as well. The concern with physicalism is that it does not seem like we can explain conscious experience—what it is like to see a forested landscape, or to smell baked bread, etc.—using just the terms provided through physics. Experience as we know it has a subjective quality: there is something that it’s like to have such first-person experiences. To use David Chalmers’ famous formulation, what we have here is the “hard problem” of consciousness: why should physical processing of the kind taking place within our brains lead to any subjective experience at all? We can understand quite well the physiology behind how, say, vision works, but many are convinced that such explanations do not suffice to explain the rich, subjective quality of the corresponding visual experience. The cause of such disagreement is called the explanatory gap—a genuine dissimilarity between what physics describes and what we all know experience to be like—and it serves as a strong motivation against physicalism and towards other options.