Advertisement

Synthese

, Volume 194, Issue 7, pp 2345–2366 | Cite as

Revelation and physicalism

  • Kelly Trogdon
Article

Abstract

According to experiential revelation, phenomenal concepts reveal the nature of the phenomenal properties they refer to. Some see experiential revelation as posing a direct challenge to physicalism. The basic idea is this: given experiential revelation, were phenomenal properties physical/functional in nature they would be presented as such when you think of them under phenomenal concepts, but phenomenal concepts don’t present their referents in this way. I argue that, while this argument on a plausible reconstruction fails, the thesis of experiential revelation nevertheless indirectly challenges physicalism. In particular, it potentially undermines the so-called phenomenal concept strategy, a key defense maneuver of the physicalist for responding to dualist arguments concerning experience. The moral is that issues concerning revelation do indeed pose a problem for physicalism, but not for the reasons you might think.

Keywords

Phenomenal concepts Phenomenal properties Physicalism Revelation Essence The phenomenal concept strategy 

Notes

Acknowledgments

I presented versions of this paper at the Philosophy of Mind Workshop at Virginia Tech (April 2015), the Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology (April 2015), and (via Skype) the Victoria University of Wellington (May 2013). I wish to thank my audience members and particularly Martin Hann—my commentator at the SSPP—for helpful feedback. Special thanks to Nathan Adams, Louise Antony, Stuart Brock, Sam Cowling, Tim Fuller, Brie Gertler, Philip Goff, Ben Jantzen, Daniel Kraemer, Joseph Levine, Tristram McPherson, Gregory Novack, Ted Parent, Nathan Rockwood, and two anonymous referees for their help.

References

  1. Balog, K. (2009). Phenomenal concepts. In B. P. McLaughlin (Ed.), Oxford handbook in the philosophy of mind. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Balog, K. (2012a). Acquaintance and the mind-body problem. In C. S. Hill & S. Gozzano (Eds.), New perspectives on type identity: The mental and the physical. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Balog, K. (2012b). In defense of the phenomenal concept strategy. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 84, 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Block, N. (2007). Max black’s objection to mind-body identity. In T. Alter & S. Walter (Eds.), Phenomenal concepts and phenomenal knowledge. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Block, N. (1986). Advertisement for a semantics for psychology. Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 10, 615–678.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chalmers, D. (2003). The content and epistemology of phenomenal belief. In Q. Smith & A. Jokic (Eds.), Consciousness: New essays. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Chalmers, D. (2007). Phenomenal concepts and the explanatory gap. In T. Alter & S. Walter (Eds.), Phenomenal concepts and phenomenal knowledge. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Dasgupta, S. (2014). The possibility of physicalism. Journal of Philosophy, 111, 557–592.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Diaz-Leon, E. (2010). Can phenomenal concepts explain the epistemic gap? Mind, 119, 933–951.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Diaz-Leon, E. (2014). Do a posteriori physicalists get our phenomenal concepts wrong? Ratio, 27, 1–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Elpidorou, A. (Forthcoming). A posteriori physicalism and introspection. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly.Google Scholar
  12. Fine, K. (1994). Essence and modality. Philosophical Perspectives, 8, 1–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fodor, J. (2008). LOT 2. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gertler, B. (2011). Self-Knowledge. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  15. Gertler, B. (2012). Renewed acquaintance. In D. Smithies & D. Stoljar (Eds.), Introspection and consciousness. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Goff, P. (2011). A posteriori physicalists get our phenomenal concepts wrong. Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 89, 191–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Goff, P. (2015). Real acquaintance and physicalism. In P. Coates & S. Coleman (Eds.), Phenomenal qualities. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Horgan, T., & Tienson, J. (2001). Deconstructing new wave materialism. In C. Gillett & B. Loewer (Eds.), Physicalism and its discontents. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Levin, J. (2002). Is conceptual analysis needed for the reduction of qualitative states? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 64, 571–591.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Levin, J. (2007). What is a phenomenal concept? In T. Alter & S. Walter (Eds.), Phenomenal concepts and phenomenal knowledge. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Levine, J. (2007). Phenomenal concepts and the materialist constraint. In T. Alter & S. Walter (Eds.), Phenomenal concepts and phenomenal knowledge. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Loar, B. (1997). Phenomenal states. In N. Block (Ed.), The nature of consciousness. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  23. McLaughlin, B. (2001). In defense of new wave materialism: A response to horgan and tienson. In C. Gillet & B. Loewer (Eds.), Physicalism and its discontents. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Nida-Rümelin, M. (2007). Grasping phenomenal properties. In T. Alter & S. Walter (Eds.), Phenomenal concepts and phenomenal knowledge. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Papineau, D. (2002). Thinking about consciousness. Oxford: Clarendon Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Peacocke, C. (1992). A study of concepts. Cambridge: MIT press.Google Scholar
  27. Schroer, R. (2010). Where’s the beef? Phenomenal concepts as both demonstrative and substantial. The Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 88, 505–522.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Veillet, B. (Forthcoming). The cognitive significance of phenomenal knowledge. Philosophical Studies.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyVirginia TechBlacksburgUSA

Personalised recommendations