Consciousness and Fundamental Reality

Consciousness and Fundamental Reality

4.07 (27 ratings by Goodreads)
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A core philosophical project is the attempt to uncover the fundamental nature of reality, the limited set of facts upon which all other facts depend. Perhaps the most popular theory of fundamental reality in contemporary analytic philosophy is physicalism, the view that the world is fundamentally physical in nature. The first half of this book argues that physicalist views cannot account for the evident reality of conscious experience, and hence that physicalism
cannot be true. Unusually for an opponent of physicalism, Goff argues that there are big problems with the most well-known arguments against physicalism-Chalmers' zombie conceivability argument and Jackson's knowledge argument - and proposes significant modifications.

The second half of the book explores and defends a recently rediscovered theory of fundamental reality-or perhaps rather a grouping of such theories-known as 'Russellian monism.' Russellian monists draw inspiration from a couple of theses defended by Bertrand Russell in The Analysis of Matter in 1927. Russell argued that physics, for all its virtues, gives us a radically incomplete picture of the world. It tells us only about the extrinsic, mathematical features of material entities,
and leaves us in the dark about their intrinsic nature, about how they are in and of themselves. Following Russell, Russellian monists suppose that it is this 'hidden' intrinsic nature of matter that explains human and animal consciousness.

Some Russellian monists adopt panpsychism, the view that the intrinsic natures of basic material entities involve consciousness; others hold that basic material entities are proto-conscious rather than conscious. Throughout the second half of the book various forms of Russellian monism are surveyed, and the key challenges facing it are discussed. The penultimate chapter defends a cosmopsychist form of Russellian monism, according to which all facts are grounded in facts about the conscious
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Product details

  • Hardback | 304 pages
  • 171 x 242 x 26mm | 666g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0190677015
  • 9780190677015
  • 648,585

Table of contents

1. The reality of consciousness

Part I: Against physicalism
2. What is physicalism?
3. The knowledge argument
4. The conceivability argument
5. Revelation and the transparency argument

Part II: Russellian monism: An alternative
6. The elegant solution
7. Panpsychism versus panprotopsychism, and the subject-summing problem
8. Top-down combination problems
9. A conscious universe

10. Analytic phenomenology: A metaphysical manifesto
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Review quote

This book is an interesting and energetic exploration of Russellian monism, a position in philosophy of mind that has gained considerable attention in recent years because it promises to move us beyond the physicalist-dualist stand-off ... the book is honest, unflinching, imaginative and argumentative; in other words, a very good philosophy book. * Daniel Stoljar, Notre Dame Philosophical Review * This book contains some of the most important contributions to the metaphysics of consciousness in recent years. Philip Goff develops a sophisticated argument against materialism, and then explores the prospects for radical alternatives in considerable depth. He makes a strong case for panpsychism, the thesis that consciousness exists at a fundamental level of physical reality, and extends this to a case for cosmopsychism, the thesis that the universe as a whole is
conscious. Anyone interested in the philosophical problem of consciousness should pay close attention to his ideas. * David Chalmers, New York University, and series editor, Philosophy of Mind series (OUP) * Goff has produced a grand piece of speculative metaphysics, in the tradition of Leibniz, Spinoza and Unger. It is also probably the best single piece of work emerging from the recent bloom of interest in Russellian monist views of consciousness. Starting with plausible and well-defended premises, he argues for a daring conclusion that many will find difficult to accept; yet, he makes a compelling case that there is no easy way to resist it. Figuring out how to
respond to his rigorous and thorough arguments will be highly instructive (and fun!) for anyone with an interest in metaphysically-oriented philosophy of mind. * Geoffrey Lee, University of California, Berkeley * This book will quickly become a reference point for philosophical discussions of consciousness. Philip Goff lays out the issues with precision and cuts through to the heart of the latest philosophical technicalities. He also writes beautifully and advances a number of strikingly novel theses. No philosopher interested in consciousness can afford to ignore Consciousness and Fundamental Reality. * David Papineau, King's College London and City University of New York Graduate Center * In an era of increasing specialization and "small ball" philosophy, Philip Goff's Consciousness and Fundamental Reality comes as a welcome antidote. He defends a grand metaphysical vision of the world, constitutive cosmopsychism, according to which the universe as a whole is conscious, and everything else is grounded in its evolving conscious state. Yes, this view is revisionary. But all views on the mind-body problem are revisionary including orthodox
physicalism. Goff develops a number of powerful arguments against the alternatives as well as a positive case for his cosmopsychism. His discussion demands and will repay our close attention. * Adam Pautz, Brown University *
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About Philip Goff

Philip Goff is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Central European University.
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Rating details

27 ratings
4.07 out of 5 stars
5 26% (7)
4 59% (16)
3 11% (3)
2 4% (1)
1 0% (0)
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