Assignment: Conscious Mental States

Assignment: Conscious Mental States

Assignment: Conscious Mental States

Assignment: Conscious Mental States



for similar reasonsA I do not deny that conscious mental states and events cause behavior, nor that they may be given functional. characterizations. I deny only that this kind of thing exhausts their analysis. Any reductionist program has to to be based on an analysis of what is to be reduced. If the analysis leaves something out, the problem will be falsely posed. It is useless to base the defense of materialism on any analysis of mental phenomena that. fails to deal explicitly with their subjective character. For there is no reason to suppose that a reduction which seems plausible when no attempt is made to account for consciousness can be extended to include consciousness. Without some idea, therefore of what the subjective character of experience is, we cannot; know what is required of a physicalist theory.

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While an account of the physical basis of mind must explain many things, this appears to be the most difficult. It is impossible to exclude the phenomenological features of experience from a, reduction in the same way that one excludes the phenomenal features of an ordinary substance from a physical or chemical reduction of it-namely, by explaining them as effects on the minds of human observers.4 If physicalism is to be defended, the phenomenological features must themselves be given a physical account. But when we examine their subjective character it: seems that such a result is impossible. The reason is that every subjective phenomenon is essentially connected with a single point of view, and it seems inevitable that an objective, physical theory will abandon that point of view.

Let me first try to state the issue somewhat more fully than by referring to the relation between the subjective and the objec, tive, or between the pour-soi and the en-soi. This is far from easy. Facts about what it is like to be an X are very peculiar, so peculiar that some may be inclined to doubt their reality, or the signifi. cance of claims about them. To illustrate the connection between

3 It is not equivalent to that about which we are incorrigible, both because we are not incorrigible about experience and because experience is present in animals lacking language and thought, who have no beliefs at all about their experiences.

4Cf. Richard Rorty, “Mind-Body Identity, Privacy, and Categories,” The Review of Metaphysics, XIX (i965), esp. 37-38

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