Rethinking Consciousness

Consciousness: The Mind Messing With the Mind - The New York Times

This is the third, and final, article in my short series attempting to dissolve the mystery surrounding consciousness. In the first article, The Qualia Delusion, I argued that qualia weren’t genuine features of lived, in the moment, phenomenal experience. Instead, they were psychic-objects we constructed after the fact in a vain attempt to explain it. Since qualia are the mysterious accompaniments to mental states that supposedly make it like something to experience X, thereby making the hard problem of consciousness hard (how can we explain that the perception of red comes with a particular, subjective feeling (a quale) of redness?), exposing them as second-order, reflective concepts, effectively dissolves the hard problem, at least, in its current form. The world and things in it are lived through the body, not thought by the mind through mental objects called qualia. The second article, Towards an Understanding of Consciousness – Henri Bergson, outlined a number of important concepts we will need in this article, specifically becoming, continuity, duration, perception, and memory. In this article, I assume a knowledge of both of those earlier articles. With that said, let’s sort out this consciousness thing once and for all.

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Towards an Understanding of Consciousness – Henri Bergson

Henri Bergson (1859-1941) Poster by Granger

In my last article, The Qualia Delusion, I argued that qualia were a second-order, reflective phenomena, rendering the so-called hard (read: impossible) problem of consciousness a non-issue. However, this doesn’t fully explain consciousness. To do this, I’ll need one more article, but in order for anything I expect to say in that article to make sense, we will need a bridging article. All of the concepts I intend to draw on there come from the late 19th, early 20th century French philosopher Henri Bergson, and so this article aims to give a whirlwind primer of Bergson’s philosophy. Strap in and let’s get this show on the road.

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