The Hard Problem

Reply Mon 9 Nov, 2020 04:04 pm
In the Journal of Consciousness Studies, David Chalmers explains that “easy problems are (relatively) easy because all that is required for their solution is to specify a mechanism that can perform the function.” However, “The Hard Problem” is just as it sounds, much more difficult to solve or explain. It deals with qualia, and more specifically why and how we have it. Qualia is commonly defined as instances of subjective, conscious experience. It is difficult to pinpoint where it arises from, and even more difficult to establish how it even exists as a function under the scope of materialism. I'll make an argument that points out the tension of consciousness existing under materialism.

(P1) Quantitative terms can define all entities for the Materialist.

(P2) Quantities that characterize physical entities are what allow them to have effects.

(For example, when considering sound, or more specifically, pitch, we agree that wavelength is an inherent property of this entity, one which we typically use to scientifically describe the nature of a sound.)

(P3) All entities are either quantitative and produce effects of some sort, or qualitative with no function at all.

(P4) Consciousness has no properties that can be quantified.

Side note: (As described by John Horgan, a conscious-meter, which would quantify levels of consciousness within any given being, would allow us to make many ethical breakthroughs or advancements. One example he provides is in measuring the consciousness of a patient in a coma to decide whether or not their life should be extended. However, I am arguing that, from a materialist point of view, consciousness is not quantifiable, so unfortunately development of such a tool is off the table, even for the most advanced of inventors.

(C) Consciousness is “eminently qualitative”. (3,4 DS)

This leads me to a conclusion that consciousness existing under materialism and being classified as a "function" is a bit of a contradiction. Even more so for the physicalist, in fact I would love to see how a physicalist would explain phenomenal consciousness. Something must be quantitative to have a function, and consciousness is not. Perhaps consciousness is more of a side effect of a physical process, rather than a mechanism itself?
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