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Phenomenal Consciousness and Mind-Body Problem in East-West Perspective

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About the Book The problem of explanatory gap in the phenomenal consciousness has risen in the Western philosophy mainly because the consciousness itself and its manifestations or reflections are treated separately. Whereas, according to the Vedanta school of India, the phenomenal consciousness is merely manifestations of self-consciousness which is embodied in the human beings. In this approach, the phenomenal consciousness and self-consciousness are one and the same thing because the fo...
About the Book

The problem of explanatory gap in the phenomenal consciousness has risen in the Western philosophy mainly because the consciousness itself and its manifestations or reflections are treated separately. Whereas, according to the Vedanta school of India, the phenomenal consciousness is merely manifestations of self-consciousness which is embodied in the human beings. In this approach, the phenomenal consciousness and self-consciousness are one and the same thing because the former depends upon the latter. Hence, there is no explanatory gap in the phenomenal consciousness. Similar is the case with the mind-body problem which exists in the Western philosophy mainly because the mind is treated as synonymous with consciousness.

This book solves the above problems on the basis of the Indian philosophy and existential philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre. In both the philosophies, there is no explanatory gap in the phenomenal consciousness and the mind-body problem.

 

About the Author

V.N. Misra, PhD, retired from Indian Economic Service (IES), has worked as Economic Advisor in different ministries of Government of India. He had several consultancy assignments with the ADB, FAO, World Bank and IFPRI. Dr Misra has also to his credit more than forty research papers published in reputed journals in the field of agricultural policy and development, labour, employment, rural poverty, etc. He has also co- authored (with V.s. Vyas and D.s. Tyagi) a book, Significance of New Technology for Small Farmers. Dr Misra's study on Terms of Trade is a published work. He has now shifted his interest from economics to philosophy and has recently published two books: Science of Consciousness: A Synthesis of Vedtinta and Buddhism and Samsara and Niroana: A Unifying Vision.

 

Preface

THIS study attempts to provide the solution to two problems of the Western philosophy: (i) the explanatory gap in the phenomenal consciousness; and (ii) the mind-body problem. The intentionality of consciousness and the mental causation having some bearings on the above problems are also discussed in the East-West perspective. The intentional consciousness is more or less similar to the phenomenal consciousness, whereas the mental causation would provide better understanding of the mind-body problem.

The gap in explaining the pheonomenal consciousness arises in the Western philosophy mainly because the distinction between the functions of consciousness and consciousness itself does not seem to have been perceived in proper perspective. In this context, it may be stated that consciousness which is embodied in human being is one. When it manifests or reflects, it becomes many. This fact has been realized in the Indian philosophy more than 2,000 years ago. More recently, an existentialist philospher jean-Paul Sartre has evolved the concept of pre-reflective and reflective consciousness. These two are one consciousness because reflective consciousness depends upon pre-reflective consciousness.

If one realizes the pathway of reflection of consciousness, it would be easy to explain the phenomenal consciousness. In the Western philosophy the access consciousness is also discussed along with the phenomenal consciousness. According to Sartre, access consciousness is real because it is accessible to every human being. Therefore, it may be said that the phenomenal consciousness is the reflection of the access consciousness. In the approach, there is no explanatory gap in the phenomenal consciousness.

However, an attempt has also been made to explain the phenomenal consciousness through the higher-order thought. This approach does not seem to be appropriate because the higher-order thought happens to be the object of consciousness. In this context, it may be stated that according to Sartre, consciousness can be the only source of consciousness. If this view is accepted, it may be reassuringly to be told that the access consciousness happens to be the source of phenomenal consciousness. Therefore, there is no explanatory gap in the phenomenal consciousness. In the Indian philosophy also, there is no gap in experiencing phenomenal consciousness because it is treated as a manifestation or reflection of self-consciousness.

The mind-body problem arises in the Western philosophy mainly because the mind is treated as synonymous to consciousness. But it ought be recognized that the Western philosopher John R. Searle has solved the mind-body problem by differentiating the consciousness from mind. In that he has recognized the consciousness happens to be the first-person ontology, whereas the mind is the third-person ontology because it is identical to brain. What is equally important is that even the quantum theory has solved the mind-body problem by admitting the connection between the mind and the body. It is stated that in the implicate order, mind enfolds matter in general and the body in particular. Similarly, the body enfolds not only mind but also in some sense the entire material universe. This in a way solved the mind-body problem.

On the basis of above observations, an inference may be drawn that those Western philosophers who are raising the mind-body problem, are not interested in solving the problem. Their main purpose seems to be that let this problem be a live one. However, an attempt has been made in this study to provide the solution to the mind-body problem based on not only the philosophical views of East and West but it has also included the solution based on the scientific reasoning. I am, indeed grateful to Shri M.L. Pandit who always encouraged me to write books having bearing on philosophical problems. I am indebted to Dr S.M. Pathak, Dr S.K. Mishra, Shri S.K. Sharma, Shri P.R. Sharma and Shri A.B. choudhury for their appreciation of my earlier books on philosophy.

I express my gratitude to the authors from whose works I have quoted passages across the chapters of this book.

I also express my gratitude to Shri Susheel K. Mittal, Director, O.K. Printworld, for two things: (i) sincere efforts in producing error-free and good quality books to the extent possible, and (ii) respectful attitude to the author.

 

Introduction

Two main problems: (i) explanatory gap in the phenomenal consciousness, and (ii) the mind-body problem have been discussed quite intensively during the last few decades in the Western philosophy.

An attempt has recently been made to explain the phenomenal consciousness through of higher-order thought. It may, however, be pointed out that the phenomenal consciousness or reflective consciousness and higher-order thought are the objects of consciousness itself, which are embodied in human being. This consciousness is generally known as self-consciousness because it manifests through mind, according to the Vedanta school of Indian philosophy. If the phenomenal consciousness is not treated as manifestation or reflection of self-consciousness, it is rather difficult to explain it.

The mind-body problem has risen in the Western philosophy mainly because consciousness and mind are treated as synonymous. However, J.R. Searle has solved the mind-body problem mainly because consciousness has been treated as first-person ontology. He has categorically stated that we cannot reduce consciousness to its neurobiological basis, because such a third-person reduction would leave out the first-person ontology of consciousness.

This study attempts to provide the solution to both the problems: explanatory gap in the phenomenal consciousness and The problem of explanatory gap in the sense that self-consciousness which is responsible for the pathway of reflection of the phenomenal consciousness can also be the source under which the mind-body problem may be resolved. The study also discusses the intentionality and mental causation in East-west perspective. The former deals with the objective for external world, whereas the latter is mainly concerned with the subjective or inner sense. The intentionality and mental causation are expected to provide better understanding of the phenomenal consciousness and the mind- body problem.

I. Explanatory Gap in Phenomenal Consciousness

The source of phenomenal consciousness may be found in the consciousness itself. This may be explained through the pathway of reflection. It means that the self-consciousness exists in me, when it manifests, it becomes the phenomenal consciousness or reflective consciousness to be involved in the phenomenal world. If this basic fact is not accepted, it will be all the more difficult to explain the phenomenal consciousness, The pathway of reflection is explained as:

A question about being is one that we pursue the pathway of reflection. The philosophy of being discovers its subject matter by bending back its attention to the awareness of being that we already possess, that is given us all with our life and breath. All human beings have an awareness of being - they are aware that they exist and that other people and other things exist. Attention to that awareness will guide the philosophy of being. A philosophy that pays heed to human awareness will discover, through reflection, the awareness of being that we have always had.

It may be stated that consciousness and awareness are synonymous.

Now let us see how the reflective consciousness has been explained by the pre-reflective consciousness in the existential philosophy of jean-Paul Sartre. Since by nature all consciousness is self-consciousness; the pre-reflective consciousness or non- thetic consciousness is also self-consciousness. As regards the reflective consciousness, it is also known as thetic consciousness or positional consciousness. However, the main difference between the pre-reflective and reflective consciousness is that in the former (i.e. pre-reflective consciousness) there is no ego, whereas the latter (i.e. reflective consciousness) contains ego. But the reflective consciousness cannot be separated from the pre- reflective consciousness. This is evident from the fact that the reflective consciousness of an object is at the same time the pre- reflective consciousness itself. The reflection has no primacy over the consciousness reflected on. It is the pre-reflective consciousness which becomes the basis of reflective consciousness.

It may, however, be stated that the pre-reflective consciousness and reflective consciousness are two different phases of the one and the same consciousness. These two successive phases - the first pre-reflective is the subjectivity, which transforms itself into the second phase of reflective consciousness, which reseals the objects involved in the phenomenal world.

**Book's Contents and Sample Pages**

 













Item Code: NAP963 Author: V.N. Misra Cover: HARDCOVER Edition: 2019 Publisher: D. K. Printworld Pvt. Ltd. ISBN: 9788124609460 Language: English Size: 9.00 X 5.50 inch Pages: 225 Other Details: Weight of the Book: 0.5 Kg
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