{[ promptMessage ]}

Bookmark it

{[ promptMessage ]}

Nagel1974 - WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE A BAT CONSCIOUSNESS is...

Info icon This preview shows pages 1–3. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE A BAT? CONSCIOUSNESS is what makes the mind-body problem really intractable. Perhaps that is why current discussions of the problem give it little attention or get it obviously wrong. The recent wave of reductionist euphoria has produced several analyses of mental phenomena and mental concepts designed to explain the possibility of some variety of materialism, psychophys- ical identification, or reduction.' But the problems dealt with are those common to this type of reduction and other types, and what makes the mind-body problem unique, and unlike the water-H20 problem or the Turing machine-IBM machine problem or the lightning-electrical discharge problem or the gene-DNA problem or the oak tree-hydrocarbon problem, is ignored. Every reductionist has his favorite analogy from modern science. It is most unlikely that any of these unrelated examples of successful reduction will shed light on the relation of mind to brain. But philosophers share the general human weakness for explanations of what is incomprehensible in terms suited for what is familiar and well understood, though entirely different. This has led to the acceptance of implausible accounts of the mental largely because they would permit familiar kinds of reduction. I shall try to explain why the usual examples do not 1 Examples are J. J. C. Smart, Philosophy and Scientific Realism (London, i963); David K. Lewis, "An Argument for the Identity Theory," Journal of Philosophy, LXIII (i966), reprinted with addenda in David M. Rosenthal, Materialism & the Mind-Body Problem (Englewood Cliffs, N. J., I971); Hilary Putnam, "Psychological Predicates" in Capitan and Merrill, Art, Mind, & Religion (Pittsburgh, i967), reprinted in Rosenthal, op. cit., as "The Nature of Mental States"; D. M. Armstrong, A Materialist Theory of the Mind (London, i968); D. C. Dennett, Content and Consciousness (London, I969). I have ex- pressed earlier doubts in "Armstrong on the Mind," Philosophical Review, LXXIX (1970), 394-403; "Brain Bisection and the Unity of Consciousness," Synthese, 22 (I97I); and a review of Dennett, Journal of Philosophy, LXIX (1972). See also Saul Kripke, "Naming and Necessity" in Davidson and Harman, Semantics of Natural Language (Dordrecht, I972), esp. pp. 334-342; and M. T. Thornton, "Ostensive Terms and Materialism," The Monist, 56 (1972). 435
Image of page 1

Info icon This preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
help us to understand the relation between mind and body- why, indeed, we have at present no conception of what an expla- nation of the physical nature of a mental phenomenon would be. Without consciousness the mind-body problem would be much less interesting. With consciousness it seems hopeless. The most important and characteristic feature of conscious mental phe- nomena is very poorly understood. Most reductionist theories do not even try to explain it. And careful examination will show that no currently available concept of reduction is applicable to it. Perhaps a new theoretical form can be devised for the purpose, but such a solution, if it exists, lies in the distant intellectual future.
Image of page 2
Image of page 3
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

{[ snackBarMessage ]}

What students are saying

  • Left Quote Icon

    As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.

    Student Picture

    Kiran Temple University Fox School of Business ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. It’s truly become something I can always rely on and help me. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero.

    Student Picture

    Dana University of Pennsylvania ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.

    Student Picture

    Jill Tulane University ‘16, Course Hero Intern