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Meaning, world and the second person

pp. 355-366

Theories of consciousness seem to raise some philosophical questions related to the good old issues concerning realism and anti-realism. Let's take the term "consciousness" in a very broad sense to signify the entire contentful "psychic" (mental) life. The problem I want to address is this: there seems to exist both serious empirical and sound theoretical arguments in support of the view that human reality, i.e., subjective conscious human experiences as well as the correlative "objective", "real", experienced human world, is subjectively constituted in conscious or brain operations; but how then is it that the sense of living in a world that exists independently of us, that is, a real, external world, is constitutive of our everyday conscious experience, and thus dictates a very strict objectivist stance from which to gain understanding about it? The empirical arguments are provided mainly by the neuroscientific study of consciousness. The more theoretical arguments can be found in classic phenomenology, more specifically Husserlian phenomenology, which is credited with uncovering, through a very strict method of philosophical inquiry, the subjective constitution of objective, transcendent reality. So then, these two independent approaches to consciousness seem to support both the view that the sense of the world is subjectively constituted, and the apparently contradictory view that this sense is the sense of an external, independent world. I will try to handle now this typical philosophical puzzle.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-90-481-2646-0_20

Full citation:

(2010)., Meaning, world and the second person, in S. Gallagher & D. Schmicking (eds.), Handbook of phenomenology and cognitive science, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 355-366.

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