The Location and Boundaries of Consciousness: a Structural Realist Approach
Despite the remarkable progress made in consciousness research during recent decades, there is still no sign of a general agreement about the location of its object. According to internalists, consciousness resides inside the brain. According to externalists, consciousness is partly constituted by elements or aspects of the environment. Internalism comports better with the existence of dreams, hallucinations and sensory imaging. Externalism seems to provide a more promising basis for understanding how we can experience the world and refer to the content of our consciousness. I argue that the framework of structural realism supports internalism and helps to reveal the reasons behind the apparent explanatory success of the externalist approach. More specifically, structural realism supports the view that the structure of our consciousness is always present in our neural processes and only sometimes (additionally) in an extended system that includes elements of the environment.
This research has been supported by a scholarship from the Finnish Cultural Foundation.
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