We may hope that one day the entire structure of consciousness will be discovered in some patterns of neural activity and that the community of neuroscientists will then have a chance to study it. Quantum entanglement offers a unique solution for the binding problem of conscious experience (Marshall 1989). doi: 10.1073/pnas.95.24.14529. Therefore, in a sense, there truly is an epistemic gap, but it should not be thought of as a necessary gap in our scientific knowledge, for it is always a gap in some particular cognitive system’s individual knowledge. A solution to the hard problem of consciousness that I find plausible is a solution that can appear to many to be utterly absurd. Phenomenal character. He also adds the premise that what cannot be physically explained is not itself physical (Chalmers, 2003). Philos. It has been often argued in Wittgensteinian or Quinean fashion that the concept of private object is philosophically highly problematic because absolutely private objects could have no role in language or in any of our theories. 66, 753–767. What is common in all of them is the idea that every object of natural sciences can be analyzed in terms of some structures (causal, dispositional, functional, spatiotemporal, relational, informational, etc. A neuronal model of a global workspace in effortful cognitive tasks. My main goal is not to use the hypothesis of Crick and Koch for developing another philosophical argument for the possibility of structural analysis of qualia, but to present their neurobiological theory as an actual hypothetical structural description of qualia: a description which is very coarse and by large part speculative, but which would solve the hard problem because it could be understood both in neural and in phenomenal terms. doi: 10.2307/2215918, Stoljar, D. (2001). (1999). Photograph: Conde Nast Archive/Corbis, participated in the Greenland consciousness cruise referred to in your article (. Before proceeding to the most important part of my argument, which is the rejection of the second thesis by offering a fully structural account of consciousness, I will consider briefly why we should accept the first thesis. Subjective knowledge about certain consciousness is hence always a particular substructure of that very consciousness. *Correspondence: Kristjan Loorits, Department of Philosophy, History, Culture and Art Studies, University of Helsinki, PL 59, Unioninkatu 38, Helsinki, Finland e-mail: kristjan.loorits@helsinki.fi, Front. Many scientific object structuralists defend a less radical position, known as epistemic structural realism, according to which structure and relations are simply all we can empirically access. Pereboom, D. (2011). It also answers the question of why is there something “it is like to be” conscious: if “qualia are simply those properties that characterize conscious states according to what it is like to have them,” as (Chalmers (2003, p. 135) puts it, then neuroscientifically intelligible structural account of qualia is also neuroscientifically intelligible structural account of why there is something it is like to be conscious. Second, consciousness is (or has) something over and above its structure and relations. According to them it is true that traditional scientific methods have no access to anything but structure and relations, but that the existence of something over and above structure and relations can nevertheless be perceived. Baars, B. J. New York: MacMillan. If we know how the brain generates awareness, then we can know from there how that awareness gets connected to all the other neurons and generates experience. J. Philos. Qualia are typically considered to be private to the one experiencing them and ineffable by nature. In case of consciousness we are simply dealing with a cognitive system that is not capable of examining its own inner structure at the level where the qualitative properties of qualia are analyzable in structural terms. Mod. I suspect that the above difference is not in fact substantial at all, but merely terminological: Crick and Koch are realists about the qualitative nature of qualia in the sense that one can be realist about macro-physical qualitative properties of ordinary physical objects, for example the woodiness of wood or the (physical) redness of a red tomato, while recognizing that such macro-physical qualitative properties are not in fact fundamental, but analyzable in fully structural terms in some finer-grained level. So, the typical framework behind the non-structural view about consciousness would look something like this: Substantial building blocks of consciousness, namely the qualia, are connected by numerous complex relations and forming numerous complex structures. Moreover, those internal structures can be identified which certain neural patterns. 5:e1000462. It turns out that consciousness, if assumed to be fundamental and not tried to be reduced to something else, is not hard at all. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. And that question could be, hopefully, eventually answered by the combined efforts of neurobiology, evolutionary neuroscience, cognitive science and possibly some other empirical disciplines. According to my proposal, which is based mainly on the work of Francis Crick and Christof Koch (Crick and Koch, 1998; Koch, 2004), the components of qualia are unconscious associations and the structures of qualia are the structures of networks of these unconscious associations. In other words, it has been hard to come by with a theory of consciousness that would satisfy both structuralists and qualia realists. Stud. (2002). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Many say that in a few years it will turn out that consciousness is just another emergent phenomenon, “like traffic jams or hurricanes or life, and we’ll figure it out.” The hard problem of consciousness refers to the fact that we can learn all of this and still not know for certain that you are not a "philosophical zombie." It is true that the theory of Crick and Koch is partly speculative and could be wrong in many of its details. It answers the question of how phenomenal consciousness could possible “rise” from neural activity: if the hypothesis is correct, then the phenomenal consciousness simply is a certain complex pattern of neural activity: a pattern of patterns of patterns etc. A fully structural account (in the sense that it does not contain any irreducibly non-structural elements) of consciousness and qualia together with a speculative, but plausible theory of how such structure is actually (identical to) the structure of a certain neural activity pattern is, in my understanding, nothing less than a solution to the hard problem. To defend this hypothesis, I will reconsider the notion of a physical object in terms of relative In other words, according to the hypothesis, the relational structure of the whole network of the active essential nodes (both the ones corresponding to aspects of consciousness and the ones corresponding to unconscious associations) is identical to the relational structure of consciousness (including qualia). An important phase in every careful presentation of the hard problem is therefore specifying the meanings of the obscure expressions used in those intuitively appealing introductions. 35, 601–617. Cambridge: The MIT Press. It has been argued that all the objects of empirical sciences can be fully analyzed in structural terms but that consciousness is (or has) something over and above its structure. Philos. The hard problem of consciousness is the problem of explaining how and why we have qualia or phenomenal experiences — how sensations acquire characteristics such as colors and tastes [4]. 49–50). Then, supposedly, we would understand intuitively why the redness of the red quale and the greenness of the green quale appear to us the way they do and not the other way around. The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory. Chalmers proposes candidates for an acceptable theory, but I find basic flaws in these. Therefore I will proceed, for the sake of simplicity, as if my formulation is a legitimate formulation of the hard problem. (A Laconic Exposition of) a method by which the internal compositional features of qualitative experience can be made evident to subjective awareness. doi: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199276196.001.0001, Lagerspetz, O. The main idea of Stoljar is, in a nutshell, that we are scientifically ignorant about the nature of consciousness and that this is why we fail to see how consciousness could be reducible to anything physical (or non-experiential, as Stoljar puts it). ), but that certain properties or aspects of consciousness cannot. Those groups of neurons can be also called essential nodes (Koch, 2004, pp. The solution is that all of those itty-bitty pieces of us, the atoms and molecules, contain within them a sort of proto-consciousness.
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