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Consciousness and its Objects$
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Colin McGinn

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199267606

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2005

DOI: 10.1093/019926760X.001.0001

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Solving the Philosophical Mind‐Body Problem

Solving the Philosophical Mind‐Body Problem

(p.56) 3 Solving the Philosophical Mind‐Body Problem
Consciousness and its Objects

Colin McGinn (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The problem of consciousness is not that there are a number of competing explanatory theories, for which we lack the evidence that would enable us to choose between them; it is that we have no sense of what a possible explanation would even look like. Two senses in which consciousness might be mysterious to us are distinguished: an ontological or metaphysical sense in which consciousness is thought to have an occult non-natural nature; and an epistemological sense, in which we do not or cannot understand the nature of consciousness. It is then argued that consciousness is mysterious in the latter sense but not in the former. Consciousness exists and has an explanation, but its nature is deeply and intractably hidden from us owing to the limitations of our cognitive powers. Accepting these theoretical limitations removes the temptation to postulate a set of variously unacceptable solutions to the mind-body problem, which display a typical form (the ‘DIME shape’): deflationary reductionism, outright irreducibility, the eerily magical, ontological elimination.

Keywords:   deflationary reductionism, DIME shape, mysterianism, ontological elimination, outright irreducibility, the eerily magical

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