Monday, November 10, 2014

My Reaction to David Chalmers's The Conscious Mind, 18 Years Later

The Chronicle of Higher Education asked me what book written in the last 30 years changed my mind. Instead of trying to be clever, I went with my somewhat boring best guess at the truth: David Chalmers's The Conscious Mind. It changed my mind not because I came to accept its conclusions, but rather because Chalmers so nicely shows that if you want to avoid the bizarreness of panpsychism, epiphenomenalism, and property dualism, you have to say something else that seems at least equally bizarre. I differ from Chalmers in lacking confidence that I have good basis for choosing among the various bizarre metaphysical alternatives.

These reflections brought me, then, to what I've been calling "crazyism": Something that seems crazy must be true, but we have no good way to know which among the crazy options is the right one. My article, "The Crazyist Metaphysics of Mind", just published in Australasian Journal of Philosophy is, at root, my much-delayed answer to Chalmers's 1996 challenge to materialism.


Paul Baer said...

Ooh, that should be fun!

Abonilox said...

I've just read your paper: "Crazy Mind" and appreciate it very much. As you point out at the end, this is something that every philosopher (or would-be philosopher) will accept as clearly accurate. For some reason I was reminded of Searle proclaiming with great confidence that the next generation of brain scientists will solve the problem of the interaction between mind and brain. I'm sure he's been saying that for at least a generation.

Anonymous said...

Please find 4 related references which give a completely different Understanding of mind, and Consciousness with a Capital C.

How the slick and clever mind splinters Reality into seeming separate bits - the Humpty Dumpty syndrome

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Thanks for the kind comments, Paul and Abonilox, and for the links, Anon!