Publication details for Prof Matthew RatcliffeRatcliffe, M. (2008). The Problem with the Problem of Consciousness. Synthesis Philosophica 44: 483-494.
- Publication type: Journal papers: academic
Author(s) from Durham
This paper proposes that the ‘problem of consciousness’, in its most popular formulation, is based upon a misinterpretation of the structure of experience. A contrast between my subjective perspective (A) and the shared world in which I take up that perspective (B) is part of my experience. However, descriptions of experience upon which the problem of consciousness is founded tend to emphasise only the former, remaining strangely oblivious to the fact that experience involves a sense of belonging to a world in which one occupies a contingent subjective perspective. The next step in formulating the problem is to muse over how this abstraction (A) can be integrated into the scientifically described world (C). I argue that the scientifically described world itself takes for granted the experientially constituted sense of a shared reality. Hence the problem of consciousness involves abstracting A from B, denying B and then trying to insert A into C, when C itself presupposes B. The problem in this form is symptomatic of serious phenomenological confusion. No wonder then that consciousness remains a mystery.