Idealism, Panpsychism, and Emergentism

The Radical Wing of Consciousness Studies

Authored by: William Seager

The Routledge Handbook Of Consciousness

Print publication date:  March  2018
Online publication date:  March  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138936218
eBook ISBN: 9781315676982
Adobe ISBN:


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There is always a legitimate philosophical interest in the history of significant doctrines and there is no doubt that all of idealism, panpsychism and emergentism have illustrious pasts. But, unlike topics that have purely historical interest (e.g. Aristotle on spontaneous generation), the problem of consciousness remains the subject of intense investigation. Despite staggering advances in the scientific study of the brain, it remains fundamentally unsolved. Why is that? The answer lies in a certain understanding of the physical and the roadblock this throws up when we try to integrate subjective experience into a world whose nature is restricted to that conception of the physical. The modern locus of this concern is Thomas Nagel’s (1974) famous reflection on our inability to get a grip on the subjective nature of non-human consciousness, despite the openness to investigation of the objective world specified in our physical theories.

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