Saturday, March 17, 2007

A Two-Pronged Solution to the Problem of "Qualia"

Synthesizing the last two posts, then: I'm thinking that the right account of phenomenal properties is these two arguments:
1) Metaphysically speaking, the "theory of mind" for phenomenal properties is (my coinage) Hyperchauvinistic type-to-type identity. The community forsook reductive materialism because of the "chauvinism" problem, that is, the multiple realizability ("supervenience") of intentional ("belief/desire") states. My larger thesis at this point is that "mind" is a complex concept and that we need two theories for two different problems, one for intentionality and another for phenomenal properties. Whereas it is true that intentional states are multiply realizable, and thus true that reductive materialism fails as an overall theory of mind, the ultimate metaphysical analysis of phenomenal properties is that the qualitative experience is what it is because the specific body is what it is.
2) Epistemologically speaking, language cannot refer to phenomenal experiences. They are the ground in which description (of anything) is possible. Meanwhile, the referents (semantics) of phenomenal descriptions are necessarily public. Phenomenology, if that is conceived as the study of phenomenal experience as distinct from the study of the physical world (science), is not possible. It is beyond the limits of language. These arguments are essentially Wittgensteinian.

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