El problema de la conciencia en la filosofía de la mente y las ciencias cognitivas: replanteamiento del núcleo del debate y valoración crítica de los principales marcos teóricos

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Universidad Complutense de Madrid
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The problem of consciousness is at the very core of contemporary philosophy of mind and cognitive sciences. It is quite complicated to take three consecutive steps in any given subarea of cognitive sciences without coming across this problem in one way or another. Nevertheless, what is the problem of consciousness? We could say it is the problem of explaining how the overall organized activity of something like a nervous system can give rise to something like a pain or joy experience. Of course, this is just a caricature: there are countless open debates in many specialized topics that fall under the so-called “problem of consciousness”, so much so that some pundits have been speaking for two decades of an interdisciplinary project called Consciousness Studies that would bring together specialists in philosophy, psychology, neurosciences, artificial intelligence and related disciplines. The following pages are aimed, on the one hand, at providing an overall perspective of this interdisciplinary field of research and, on the other, at refuting those who have been proclaiming the impossibility of solving the problem of consciousness –suggesting, furthermore, feasible pathways towards a solution. The thesis is divided into three main parts: the first one is eminently expositive, the second argumentative and, the third, critical. We have entitled the first part “Historical and conceptual approach to the problem of consciousness in contemporary philosophy and science”. Arguably, the heading does not seem to require clarification or justification: we will start at the beginning, namely identifying the problem and briefly presenting the state of the art in the relevant disciplines. In order to achieve this goal, Chapter 1 introduces the problem from a historical point of view to provide the pertinent context. In Chapter 2 we shed some light on the plural nature of the problem: as we shall see, there is not one single problem of consciousness, nor a single form of consciousness. Chapter 3 addresses one of the most controversial issues on Consciousness Studies: the phenomenal/intentional duality of the mental. In the first part of the thesis, this topic will be raised on a purely expository basis: we will define the intentional and the phenomenal, thus laying the foundations for the argument to be developed in the second part about the relations between these supposedly exhaustive, specific, homogeneous and precisely delimitated aspects of the mental. Meanwhile, Chapter 4 outlines a schema of the ontological conceptions of consciousness, whereas Chapter 5 does the same for the different explanatory proposals. Finally, in Chapter 6 we will deal with the arguments intended to demonstrate that consciousness is an unapproachable object of study for the natural sciences. Such arguments seek to bolster the inexplicability of consciousness intuition, a customary hunch according to which any given theory of consciousness will collide with an insurmountable impasse. Once we reveal the low strength of these arguments, we
Tesis inédita de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Facultad de Filosofía, Departamento de Teoría del Conocimiento, Estética e Historia del Pensamiento, leída el 27-11-2015