Conflating Abstraction with Empirical Observation: The False Mind-Matter Dichotomy

Constructivist Foundations 13 (3):341-361 (2018)
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> Context • The alleged dichotomy between mind and matter is pervasive. Therefore, the attempt to explain mat- ter in terms of mind (idealism) is often considered a mirror image of that of explaining mind in terms of mat- ter (mainstream physicalism), in the sense of being structurally equivalent despite being reversely arranged. > Problem • I argue that this is an error arising from language artifacts, for dichotomies must reside in the same level of abstraction. > Method • I show that, because matter outside mind is not an empirical observation but rather an explanatory model, the epistemic symmetry between the two is broken. Consequently, matter and mind cannot reside in the same level of abstraction. > Results • It then becomes clear that attempting to explain mind in terms of matter is epistemically more costly than attempting to explain matter in terms of mind. > Implications • The qualities of experience are suggested to be not only epistemically, but also ontologically primary. > Constructivist content • I high- light the primacy of perceptual constructs over explanatory abstraction on both epistemic and ontic levels. > Key words • Idealism, physicalism, pancomputationalism, anti-realism, hard problem of consciousness, epistemic symmetry, explanatory abstraction, levels of abstraction.

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Bernardo Kastrup
Radboud University (PhD)


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