Chia-Lin Tu


1 Analyzing the Emergence of Conscious Phenomena by the Process-Based Metaphysics

Authors: Chia-Lin Tu


Towards the end of the 20th century, a reductive picture has dominated in philosophy of science and philosophy of mind. Reductive physicalism claims that all entities and properties in this world are eventually able to be reduced to the physical level. It means that all phenomena in the world are able to be explained by laws of physics. However, quantum physics provides another picture. It says that the world is undergoing change and the energy of change is, in fact, the most important part to constitute world phenomena. Quantum physics provides us another point of view to reconsider the reality of the world. Throughout the history of philosophy of mind, reductive physicalism tries to reduce the conscious phenomena to physical particles as well, meaning that the reality of consciousness is composed by physical particles. However, reductive physicalism is unable to explain conscious phenomena and mind-body causation. Conscious phenomena, e.g., qualia, is not composed by physical particles. The current popular theory for consciousness is emergentism. Emergentism is an ambiguous concept which has not had clear idea of how conscious phenomena are emerged by physical particles. In order to understand the emergence of conscious phenomena, it seems that quantum physics is an appropriate analogy. Quantum physics claims that physical particles and processes together construct the most fundamental field of world phenomena, and thus all natural processes, i.e., wave functions, have occurred within. The traditional space-time description of classical physics is overtaken by the wave-function story. If this methodology of quantum physics works well to explain world phenomena, then it is not necessary to describe the world by the idea of physical particles like classical physics did. Conscious phenomena are one kind of world phenomena. Scientists and philosophers have tried to explain the reality of them, but it has not come out any conclusion. Quantum physics tells us that the fundamental field of the natural world is processed metaphysics. The emergence of conscious phenomena is only possible within this process metaphysics and has clearly occurred. By the framework of quantum physics, we are able to take emergence more seriously, and thus we can account for such emergent phenomena as consciousness. By questioning the particle-mechanistic concept of the world, the new metaphysics offers an opportunity to reconsider the reality of conscious phenomena.

Keywords: Quantum Physics, Reduction, qualia, Emergence

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