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The hypothesis of the mind-object identity as a solution to the hard problem of consciousness

20 April 2022
3:00 pm
San Ponziano Complex - Conference Room

Until now, neurosciences have not provided any explanation as to how and why neural activity generates conscious experience (only correlations). It is fair to say that consciousness has never been observed directly. Moreover, phenomenal experience is not compatible with the causal closure of the physical world. Therefore, how to overcome this impasse without slipping into explanations that run afoul ontological parsimony (Occam)?

An interesting alternative approach consists in setting aside the unproven premises that scholars have so far assumed and to consider a different physical candidate for consciousness – i.e. the external world. This hypothesis, dubbed the mind-object identity, is extremely parsimonious, is consistent with the neuroscientific data, solves the problem of mental causation, and in fact cancels the hard problem. The identity between consciousness and physical objects – rather than between consciousness and neural activity – requires two revisit two fundamental aspects of the physical world: the relative nature of physical properties and the spatiotemporal extension of events. Fortunately, such aspects are both widely supported by contemporary physics and phenomenologically consistent.

The mind-object identity is discussed and compared with a number of empirical cases offered by neuroscience: from hallucinations to dreams, from illusions to memory.


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Riccardo Manzotti - IULM Milano