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The Waning of Materialism$
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Robert C. Koons and George Bealer

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199556182

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199556182.001.0001

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Persons and the Unity of Consciousness

Persons and the Unity of Consciousness

Chapter:
(p.175) 8 Persons and the Unity of Consciousness
Source:
The Waning of Materialism
Author(s):

William Hasker (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199556182.003.0008

We have a conception of the human person as constituted in part by a self, a unified, coherent center of consciousness which is a rational agent, capable of being responsive, and responsible, to other agents. There are, however, empirical phenomena — in particular, commissurotomy and multiple personality syndrome — that seem to threaten this unity both theoretically and practically. As a counterpoise to these phenomena, this chapter puts forward the unity of consciousness argument, deriving from Leibniz and Kant. While this argument might seem to conflict with the empirical evidence of disunity, the chapter maintains that there is no inconsistency between the evidence and the argument. The combination of the two, in fact, both places a barrier in the way of a materialist account of mind and consciousness, and at the same time points out a severe difficulty for standard (especially Cartesian) varieties of dualism. The chapter closes by sketching out my own preferred view of the metaphysics of persons, emergent dualism.

Keywords:   unity of consciousness, commissurotomy, multiple personality, Leibniz, Kant, dualism

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