Self, Sense and Autonomy


This study advances a refutation of Physicalism. It demonstrates that it cannot, coherently, be maintained. An alternative approach based on Husserl’s ‘transcendental ego’ is developed. This is an account where the physical world is constituted by a freely acting self from a phenomenology that is ontologically neutral. By doing so, the, so-called, ‘hard problem’ of consciousness is dissolved. It will be shown that the self is compelled to attribute moral and aesthetic value to the world that it has constituted. The determinism that Physicalism engenders is shown to lead to a nihilism that makes all knowledge impossible. Genuine personal responsibility for action, is asserted within strict limits. A position is outlined that gives a role to the self in causation and one that entails the possibility of panpsychism.

Author's Profile

Matthew Ian Harding
University of Edinburgh (PhD)


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