Abstract Details

Realizing Consciousness Through the Model of Physiophenomenalism  Brian Archibald (Philosophy, San Diego State University, La Jolla, CA )   C10

One of the most stubborn epistemic challenges we face is the explanation of how we are conscious at all: viz, the "hard problem" of consciousness. Metaphysical models seeking to bridge this explanatory gap--such as Russellian monism, panpsychism, panprotopsychism, and cosmopsychism--each argue that phenomenality is an ontologically fundamental condition of existence, and that consciousness is not simply a contingent, psychological state of certain physical beings. Consciousness is therefore not "generated" by entities; nor does consciousness "emerge" from contingent physical processes; rather, consciousness is naturally "realized" by the actions of specific types of physically instantiated psychophysical systems, such as human brains. In such models, consciousness and phenomenality simply exist, much the same as space and time exist, and beings participate in them by realizing their specific qualities. In accepting this basic premise, the pivotal question therefore becomes: "How are consciousness and phenomenality realized?" In direct response to this question, this paper argues that the physical instantiation of any concrete being thereby instantiates the "maximal unity" of that being, which necessarily realizes the fundamental conditions of phenomenality. This natural unity of "haecceity" instantiates the maximal "thisness" of that being, which fuses, focuses, realizes, and expresses its relational, "physiophenomenal" qualities in whatever unified form they may take. This fundamental condition unifies the objectively physical totality of "what that being is," thereby realizing and expressing the externally phenomenal condition of "what that being is like" as its naturally unified, objectively physiophenomenal qualities. If that being is a sufficiently complex system of maximally integrated psychophysical information, such as the human brain, then its unity of haecceity realizes and expresses the internal, subjectively phenomenal condition of "what it is like to be that being." Maximal unity of haecceity is a fundamental condition of existence, through which phenomenality and consciousness are realized as maximally cohesive expressions of externally objective and internally subjective physiophenomenal qualities. Thus, the similarly stubborn "combination problem" is naturally resolved in virtue of the entailed physiophenomenal unity of haecceity of all things. Unity is thus the default position of ontological expression, and not an exception seeking justification. With a viable metaphysical mechanism by which consciousness and phenomenality are both unified and realized, the remaining challenge of validating their fundamental grounding within the hypokeimenon of existence requires that we delve into the metaphysical foundations of quantum physics. To that end, this paper offers a plausible explanans of those foundations that, when combined with the haecceity thesis, provides a cohesive explanans of the fundamental existence and realization of phenomenality and consciousness. The lynchpin of physiophenomenalism is to demonstrate how quantum physics, itself, requires that the most basic level of consciousness necessarily obtain simply in order for the foundational laws of quantum behavior to function at all. With physicality, consciousness, phenomenality, and haecceity all grounded to the foundational substratum of existence, and their realization clarified, we can work to answer further questions regarding consciousness, identity, agency, and moral action under this metaphysical model of physiophenomenal relational qualities as realized through both objective and subjective haecceity.