How do physiological processes produce a conscious state of mind?

Credit: Getty Images
Credit: Getty Images

I believe there are two reasons why we have failed to solve the hard part of the problem [of consciousness]. The first is philosophical and the second is scientific.

Physiological processes do not produce consciousness in the sense that the liver produces bile. Consciousness is not a thing but rather a point of view. What we perceive objectively as physiological processes in the brain we perceive subjectively as conscious states. These are two different observational perspectives upon the very same processes: consciousness arises from the being of a brain. This leads to a fundamentally different question: Why is it something to be a brain but not to be a liver, or, for that matter, a rock?

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Not all bodily processes possess something-it-is-like-ness, and nor do all brain processes. This takes us to the scientific reason why we have failed to solve the problem: we have been focusing on the wrong brain function as our model example, namely visual perception. Visual perceptual processes are not intrinsically conscious.

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Once we have come to these conclusions, the hard problem of consciousness assumes a new form, namely: “How and why do feelings arise?”


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