Advertisement

AI & SOCIETY

, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 563–571 | Cite as

Can naturalism explain consciousness? A critique

  • Rajakishore NathEmail author
Open Forum

Abstract

The problem of consciousness is one of the most important problems both in cognitive science and in philosophy. There are different philosophers and different scientists who define consciousness and explain it differently. In philosophy, ‘consciousness’ does not have a definition in terms of genus and differentia or necessary and sufficient conditions. In this paper, I shall explore the very idea of machine consciousness. The machine consciousness has offered causal explanation to the ‘how’ and ‘what’ of consciousness, but they fail to explain the ‘why’ of consciousness. Their explanation is based on the ground that consciousness is causally dependent on the material universe and that of all conscious phenomena can be explained by mapping the physical universe. In this regard, consciousness is basically a physical phenomenon and can be mechanically explained following the naturalistic methods of science. In other words, the mechanistic assumption is that consciousness and mind have an artificial origin and therefore have to be understood only within a mechanistic framework available in the sciences. If this is so, then this epistemological theory of consciousness is essentially committed to scientific world view that cannot avoid metaphysical implication of consciousness. At the same time, neo-Advaitins have maintained that the evolution of nature leads to the manifestation of human consciousness only because consciousness is already implicit in the material nature. Thus, the existence of consciousness in this physical world far exceeds the methods of science and needs a non-mechanical metaphysical explanation.

Keywords

Naturalism Machine consciousness Supervenience Ātman Self-luminosity 

References

  1. Chalmers DJ (1996) The conscious mind. Oxford University Press, New YorkzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  2. Chalmers DJ (1997) Facing up to the problem of consciousness. In: Jonathan S (ed) Explaining consciousness: the hard problem. The MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  3. Dennett DC (1981) Brainstorms: Philosophical essays on mind and psychology. The MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  4. Dennett DC (1991) Consciousness explained. The Penguin Books, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  5. Dennett DC (1998) Quining Qualia. In: Ned B, Owen F, Güven G (eds) The nature of consciousness. The MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  6. Descartes R (1985) The philosophical writings of descartes, volume 1. In: Cottingham J (ed) (translated). Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  7. Flanagan O (1992) Consciousness reconsidered. The MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  8. Gupta B (2003) CIT: consciousness. Oxford University Press, New DelhiGoogle Scholar
  9. Indich WM (1980) Consciousness. Advaita Vedānta. Motilal Banarsidas, New DelhiGoogle Scholar
  10. Kirk R (1996) Raw feeling: a philosophical account of the essence of consciousness. Oxfords University Press, OxfordsCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Nagel T (1998) What is it like to be a bat. In: Ned B, Owen F, Güven G (eds) The nature of consciousness. The MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  12. Pradhan RC (2002) Why qualia cannot be quined. J Indian Counc Philos Res XIX(2):85–102Google Scholar
  13. Pradhan RC (2009) Hard problem of consciousness? Revisiting David Chalmers. Indian J Anal Philos III(1):66–87MathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  14. Seale JR (2002) Consciousness and language. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  15. Searle JR (1983) Intentionality: An essay in the philosophy of mind. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Searle John R (2000) Consciousness. Annu Rev Neurosci 23(1):557–578CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Wittgenstein L (1976) Philosophical investigations. In: Anscombe GEM (translated). Basil Blackwell, OxfordGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Humanities and Social SciencesIndian Institute of Technology BombayMumbaiIndia

Personalised recommendations