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Petrovskiy V. A. (2018). The psychophysical problem: "who" sees the world?

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JournalMethodology and History of Psychology Year2018 Issue1 Pages58–83
SectionSubject Foundations of Worlds Construction TypeScientific article DOI10.7868/S1819265318010053
CitationPetrovskiy V. A. (2018). Psihofizičeskaâ problema: kto vidit mir? (èskiz koncepcii vzaimooposredovaniâ) [The psychophysical problem: "who" sees the world? (a sketch of the concept of intermediation)] // Metodologiâ i istoriâ psihologii. Iss. 1. P. 58–83.




The Psychophysical Problem: "Who" Sees the World?
(A Sketch of the Concept of Intermediation)


The problem of the connection between the mental and the physical (the soul and the body) (while maintaining the meanings of one of the major problems of philosophy), intrigues as a challenge for consideration by both philosophers and authorities in specific sciences, psychologists, physicists, logicians and semioticians. In the past two centuries new terms have appeared (Qualia, Supervenience, Emergence, philosophical zombies) designed to help solve the "hard problem of consciousness" (David Chalmers). But do these linguistic innovations allow significant progress in solving the old problem? The author believes that, while updating the traditional discourse, they require significant refinement, since the criterion for distinguishing between "mental" and "physical" is left unclear (without which the question of their correlation becomes irrelevant). The required criterion is described in the paper as transferability (generalizability "beyond") ↔ non-transferability (adherence to a place). The "physical" (waves, particles) retains their own properties beyond their origin, thus revealing transference (particles are transferred, waves travel without changing their own properties); the "mental" (sensations, ideas, feelings, thoughts, emotions, aspirations, etc.) are non-transferent (they exist there and only where they originated). The challenge in resolving the psychophysical problem is related to the "error of the observer" – the non-distinction between sensory (imagined) and supersensory (conceivable) elements. Mental phenomena are the result of the interaction of conceivable physical elements (following the example of waves' interference and the formation of a "standing wave"). It is implied that the organic body of an individual (and, in particular, their brain) is one of the participants in the interaction (a "co-producer"). A hypothetical model of mental contents (a metaphorical model) is an internal hologram generated by an individual that exists as a single copy.
It is assumed that the model has a structure and can configure the radiant energy of a body passing through it, thus performing as both "formal" and "final" causes of behaviour (in terms of Aristotle). Thus, the concept of the epiphenomenal (redundant) quality of the psyche in the organization of an individual's activity is questioned. The exclusive nature of mental phenomena as internal holograms is specifically emphasized, since according to the initial hypothesis they adhere to their place of origin (they cannot be fixed by means of technical devices or, as they say, by the "eye", "from the outside" – cannot be "extracted", "peeped at", "transferred", "photographed", "scanned", etc.). It is believed that mental contents are "hidden from an outside observer" and at the same time can be "visible (experienced) only from within". The author shows that the notions of "the visibility of mental contents from within" are subject to critical examination: the idea of an "inner contemplator" generates an idea of "homunculi" (an evil infinity of "little men" embedded in each other).
The author's thesis is that initially "there is no one inside who would see, experience, and seek", in other words, who would be a subject of the inner life (the "I"); the "contemplated" and the "contemplator" are fragments of the phenomenal field "commented" on with the culturally defined verbal signs ("I see", "I imagine", "I experience", etc.). Some models of the I generated by the corporeality of an individual in a sociocultural environment exhibit the property of self-movement – causa sui. Thus, on the whole, the relationship between the mental and the physical is interpreted as their intermediation, co-being; the relations are not symmetrical: rather than the mind being "for the body" but the body – "for the mind".

Keywords: "hard problem of consciousness"; qualia; supervenience; emergence; mental; physical; marginal; transferability; non-transferability; sensory; supersensory; causality; causa sui; epiphenomenon; mediation; the "I"


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