chapter  7
26 Pages

The Origins of Qualia


The mind-body problem in contemporary philosophy has two parts: the problem of mental causation and the problem of consciousness. These two parts are not unrelated; in fact, it can be helpful to see them as the two horns of a dilemma. The causal interaction between mental and physical phenomena seems to require that all causally efficacious mental phenomena are physical; but, the phenomenon of consciousness seems to entail that not all mental phenomena are physical.2 One may avoid this dilemma by adopting an epiphenomenalist view of consciousness, of course; but there is little independent reason for believing such a view. Rejecting epiphenomenalism, then, leaves contemporary philosophers with their problem: mental causation inclines them towards physicalism, while consciousness inclines them towards dualism.