Materialism and the Subjectivity of Experience
- Reinaldo J. Bernal Velásquez
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The phenomenal properties of conscious mental states happen to be exclusively accessible from the first-person perspective. Consequently, some philosophers consider their existence to be incompatible with materialist metaphysics. In this paper I criticise one particular argument that is based on the idea that for something to be real it must (at least in principle) be accessible from an intersubjective perspective. I argue that the exclusively subjective access to phenomenal contents can be explained by the very particular nature of the epistemological relation holding between a subject and his own mental states. Accordingly, this subjectivity does not compel us to deny the possibility that phenomenal contents are ontologically objective properties. First, I present the general form of the argument that I will discuss. Second, I show that this argument makes use of a criterion of reality that is not applicable to the case of subjective experience. Third, I discuss a plausible objection and give an argument for rejecting observation models of self-knowledge of phenomenal contents. These models fall prey to the homunculus illusion.
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- Materialism and the Subjectivity of Experience
Volume 39, Issue 1 , pp 39-49
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Springer Netherlands
- Additional Links
- Explanatory gap
- Metaphysics of mind
- Reinaldo J. Bernal Velásquez (1) (2)
- Author Affiliations
- 1. Institut Jean-Nicod, Pavillon Jardin, École Normale Supérieure, 29 rue d’Ulm, 75005, Paris, France
- 2. Département de Philosophie, UFR de Sciences humaines, Bât. ARSH, UPMF (Grenoble II), 1281 avenue Centrale, domaine universitaire, 38400, Saint-Martin d’Hères, France