Dualism And Consciousness

1098 Words 4 Pages
Consciousness, while a difficult area to study, provides insight into the workings of the empirical world, and ultimately what it means to be human. Questions of consciousness and thought have existed from as early as the Neolithic period, since the first humans inhabited earth, seen through spiritual rituals carried out during burials. However, it could be argued that creation, whether it is the scientific or Judeo-Christian definition, was the manifestation of consciousness, and therefore reality, itself. Because of this, multiple arguments arise; however, the most significant and seemingly plausible is the debate of whether consciousness is an emergent phenomenon. Philosophers such as Descartes, Aristotle, and Plato all tackled theories …show more content…
Materialism, or physicalism, is defined as ‘the view that all facts are causally dependent upon physical process, or even reducible to them. (J. C. C. Smart, 2015) The term materialism has become a way of referring to metaphysical theories, theories of the nature of reality. The argument between the traditional dualist and materialist perspectives arises mainly from materialism being a belief in only matter or material substance, whereas dualism leans more towards a metaphysical explanation for the world and humanity. Dualism appears as a compelling view point as it corresponds to one’s personal experience, and allows for understanding of themselves. The physicalist perspective also presents well due to its foundations in science, a widely respected and pioneering movement towards understanding the human mind.

As well as these schools of thought, ontology and epistemology are also crucial in evaluating the designation of consciousness as an emergent phenomenon. Ontology being the nature of being, refers to the nature of something existing in its own right. Epistemology on the other hand, is the study of nature and knowledge, and understanding these areas from an outside perspective as
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Reductionism is supported by the idea that to analyse and describe a complex phenomenon it must be reduced to its fundamental constituents. For example, how Biology can for the most part be explained through physics and chemistry, and chemistry to physics, etc. It is through this that the argument of consciousness being an emergent phenomenon arises. Economist Jeffrey Goldstein theorised emergent phenomena as “the arising novel and coherent structures, patterns, and properties during the process of self-organisation in complex systems” (Goldstein, Emergence as a Construct, 1999). Emergent materialism is a theory which dictates that the human mind is an “irreducible existent” (Massaro, 2010), John R. Searle presents emergent materialism as middle ground between materialism and dualism, the difference being that emergent materialism argues that consciousness is ontologically reducible in its own nature, but epistemologically irreducible for human understanding. Materialism, emergent materialism, and dualism all present compelling arguments to be explored in the nature of understanding consciousness as an emergent

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