Jerry Fodor, who is not a reliable interpreter of other people’s positions (but he does write beautifully) is not impressed by the conclusions of Galen Strawson’s new book: Consciousness and Its Place in Nature: Does Physicalism Entail Panpsychism?. Strawson, by Fdor’s account, swallows all sorts of camels in clinging determinedly to Monism (there is only one kind of stuff) and the reality of Consciousness, and a third, more problematic claim: Emergence of consciousness isn’t possible, because ‘For any feature Y of anything that is correctly considered to be emergent from X, there must be something about X and X alone in virtue of which Y emerges, and which is sufficient for Y.’
Looks like Strawson is on the right path in his tenacity, but being tripped up by the usual philosopher’s drivel. However, the interesting quote is only tangentially related to the book under review. Fodor says:
I think it’s strictly true that we can’t, as things stand now, so much as imagine the solution of the hard problem. The revisions of our concepts and theories that imagining a solution will eventually require are likely to be very deep and very unsettling. (That’s assuming what’s by no means obvious: that we are smart enough to solve it at all.) Philosophers used to think (some still do) that a bit of analytical tidying up would make the hard problem go away. But they were wrong to think that. There is hardly anything that we may not have to cut loose from before the hard problem is through with us.
Anyhow, Strawson is right that the hard problem really is very hard; and I share his intuition that it isn’t going to get solved for free. Views that we cherish will be damaged in the process; the serious question is which ones and how badly. If you want an idea of just how hard the hard problem is, and just how strange things can look when you face its hardness without flinching, this is the right book to read.
Once more, I find myself standing with Fodor. But I have seen further! What a great feeling:) (and, no, I’m not stoned).