Phenomenal consciousness in Chalmers

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Sadeghnia, Mastoureh
Philosophy of mind , Consciousness
This essay is on ‘Phenomenal Consciousness’. By introducing the ‘hard problem’ of phenomenal consciousness, I will focus on Chalmers’ efforts on developing a theory of consciousness, which he believes is a project toward finding a solution to the hard problem. As a result of focusing on the hard problem, this paper deals with the questions such as “how and why cognitive functioning is accompanied by conscious experience”, “how the physical systems or the physical brain processes give rise to conscious experience”, “why these processes do not take place ‘in the dark’ without any accompanying states of experience”, “what is the relation between the physical, the psychological and the phenomenal” and finally “what is the phenomenal experience or phenomenal feel”. There are two main streams trying to find a solution to (or dissolve) these kinds of questions about consciousness: the reductive doctrines (materialists) and the nonreductive doctrines. Before exploring Chalmers’ answer to these questions, which is by his nonreductive theory of consciousness, I will explore some of the most important reductive (materialist) theories by focusing on Chalmers’ arguments against them and I will indicate his main objection to materialist theories by pointing out what he thinks is missing in these theories. This issue will be followed by the part in which I will argue that what makes Chalmers’ arguments against materialists views applicable, actually applies to his own theory of consciousness as well. I will argue that what is missing in all theories of consciousness, (including Chalmers’) which could play a significant role in a theory of consciousness, is a ‘first person point of view’ and an ‘ability to have a first person point of view’, by which I mean an ability for a being to have a first person (subjective) access to the results of his own physical cognitive information processing system. As a result, I will argue that phenomenal consciousness is actually an epistemic phenomenon which is the result of being in a sort of epistemic relation to one’s own cognitive system.  
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