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Will there be a neuroscientific theory of consciousness?

Will there be a neuroscientific theory of consciousness?

Authors: 
Kurthen M., Grunwald TH. & Elger C.E.
Year: 
1998
Journal: 
Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Abstract: 

Neuroscientists and philosophers nowadays claim that the problem of phenomenal consciousness is ascientific problem. Increasing knowledge of the neural correlates of consciousness is expected to yield an explanation of consciousness in neuroscientific terms. On the other hand, it is sometimes argued that even complete knowledge of brain function will leave unanswered the question of why cerebral processes are accompanied by consciousness at all. Proponents of this view assume an unbridgeable `explanatory gap' between the brain and the whole realm of phenomenal consciousness. Here, it is argued that this `explanatory gap' problem can not adequately be met by current neuroscientific approaches to consciousness, while purely philosophical approaches remain controversial because they inevitably reach alevel of contradictory intuitions that do not seem to be resolvable by further argument. However, the problem may be resolved once one accepts that the features of consciousness itself might change with our judgments and descriptions of consciousness inspired by neuroscience. Such a `change of consciousness' becomes realistic when consciousness is construed as a description-dependent, `non-intrinsic' property[1]. Hence, it is argued that neuroscientists are right not to try to refute the explanatory gap argument, but that they should continue research on the neural correlates of consciousness, thus preparing new descriptions of phenomenal consciousness.

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