Neuroscientist who does not feel pain: Subjective ontology and the perspective anamorphosis of consciousness

  • Andrija Jurić University of Novi Sad, Faculty of Philosophy, Serbia
Keywords: subjective ontology, first-person perspective, phenomenal quality, mental states, neuroscience

Abstract

Would the neuroscientist who does not feel pain know what he is studying? In this paper, the author analyzes the subjective ontology of conscious mental states and its origin – the subject’s first-person perspective. The ontology of the mental is irreducibly first-person ontology. In the thought experiment with neuroscientist Peter, it will be shown that a comprehensive science of consciousness requires a combined approach, as the phenomena of neuroscience are internally defined. The asymmetry between first-person and third-person perspectives regarding mental states will be strongly emphasized. The third part of the paper will offer a perspectival approach to the hard problem of consciousness. In conclusion, a truly objective science of subjectivity, a genuine science of consciousness, would have to engage scientifically with the subject’s egocentric first-person perspective.

References

Ashby, W. R. (1960). Design for a brain. Chapman and Hall.

Brand, P. W., & Yancey, P. (1993). Pain: The gift nobody wants. HarperCollins.

Campbell, K. (1970). Body and mind. Macmillan.

Campbell, K. (1983). Abstract particulars and the philosophy of mind. Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 61(2), 129–141. https://doi.org/10.1080/00048408312340931

Damasio, A. R. (1999). The feeling of what happens: Body and emotion in the making of consciousness. Harcourt.

Damasio, A. R. (2010). Self comes to mind: Constructing the conscious brain. Pantheon Books.

Dennett, D. C. (1991). Consciousness explained. Little, Brown and Company.

Descartes, R. (1985). The philosophical writings of Descartes, Vol. I (J. Cottingham, R. Stoothoff, & D. Murdoch, Trans.). Cambridge University Press.

Eickhoff, S. B., Dafotakis, M., Grefkes, C., Stöcker, T., Shah, N. J., Schnitzler, A., Zilles, K., & Siebler, M. (2008). fMRI reveals cognitive and emotional processing in a long-term comatose patient. Experimental Neurology, 214(2), 240–246. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.expneurol.2008.08.007

Feigl, H. (1967). The “Mental” and the “Physical”: The Essay and a Postscript. University of Minnesota Press.

Feigl, H. (1971). Some crucial issues of mind-body monism. Synthese, 22(3/4), 295–312. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00413429

Grahek, N. (1990). Materija, svest i saznanje. Filozofsko društvo Srbije.

Grahek, N. (2007). Feeling pain and being in pain. The MIT Press.

Greenberg, D. L. (2007). Comment on “Detecting awareness in the vegetative state.” Science, 315(5816), 1221–1221. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1135284

Gunderson, K. (1985). Mentality and machines. University of Minnesota Press.

Husserl, E. (1983). Ideas pertaining to a pure phenomenology and to a phenomenological philosophy. First book: General introduction to a pure phenomenology (F. Kersten, Trans.). Martinus Nijhoff.

Jackson, F. (1982). Epiphenomenal qualia. The Philosophical Quarterly, 32(127), 127–136. https://doi.org/10.2307/2960077

Jackson, F. (1986). What Mary didn’t know. The Journal of Philosophy, 83(5), 291–295. https://doi.org/10.2307/2026143

James, W. (1983). The principles of psychology. Harvard University Press.

Kahane, G., & Savulescu, J. (2009). Brain damage and the moral significance of consciousness. The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy: A Forum for Bioethics and Philosophy of Medicine, 34(1), 6–26. https://doi.org/10.1093/jmp/jhn038

Kant, I. (1998). Critique of pure reason (P. Guyer & A. W. Wood, Trans.). Cambridge University Press.

Levy, N. (2014). The value of consciousness. Journal of Consciousness Studies: Controversies in Science & the Humanities, 21(1–2), 127–138.

Levy, N., & Savulescu, J. (2009). Moral significance of phenomenal consciousness. In S. Laureys, N. D. Schiff, & A. M. Owen (Eds.), Coma science: clinical and ethical implications (pp. 361–370). Elsevier.

Lewis, D. K. (1983). Postscript to “Mad Pain and Martian Pain.” In Philosophical papers, I (pp. 130–132). Oxford University Press.

Locke, J. (1997). An essay concerning human understanding (R. Woolhouse, Ed.). Penguin Books.

McGinn, C. (1989). Can we solve the mind-body problem? Mind, 98(391), 349–366. https://doi.org/10.1093/mind/XCVIII.391.349

McGinn, C. (1991). The problem of consciousness. Blackwell.

McGinn, C. (1996). The character of mind. Oxford University Press.

Meehl, P. E. (1966). The compleat autocerebroscopist: A thought-experiment on professor Feigl’s mind-body identity thesis. In P. K. Feyerabend & G. Maxwell (Eds.), Mind, matter, and method: Essays in philosophy and science in honor of Herbert Feigl (pp. 103–180). University of Minnesota Press.

Monti, M. M. (2012). Cognition in the vegetative state. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 8(1), 431–454. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-clinpsy-032511-143050

Nagel, T. (1974). What is it like to be a bat? The Philosophical Review, 83(4), 435–450. https://doi.org/10.2307/2183914

Natsoulas, T. (1991). Ontological subjectivity. The Journal of Mind and Behavior, 12(2), 175–200.

Owen, A. M., Coleman, M. R., Boly, M., Davis, M. H., Laureys, S., & Pickard, J. D. (2006). Detecting awareness in the vegetative state. Science, 313(5792), 1402–1402. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1130197

Planck, M. (1932). Where is science going? (J. Murphy, Trans.; First edition). W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Sacks, O. (2012). Hallucinations. Vintage Canada.

Sartre, J.-P. (1991). The transcendence of the Ego: An existentialist theory of consciousness (F. Williams & R. Kirkpatrick, Trans.). Hill and Wang.

Searle, J. R. (1980). Minds, brains, and programs. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 3(3), 417–424. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X00005756

Searle, J. R. (1992). The rediscovery of the mind. The MIT Press.

Searle, J. R. (1997). The mystery of consciousness. New York Review of Books.

Searle, J. R. (1998). Mind, language and society. Basic Books.

Stier, M. (2020). Remainders of the Self: Consciousness as a problem for neuroethics. In M. Kühler & V. L. Mitroviæ (Eds.), Theories of the Self and autonomy in medical ethics (Vol. 83, pp. 99–120). Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-56703-3_7

Taguchi, S. (2019). Neither one nor many: Husserl on the primal mode of the I. In N. De Warren & S. Taguchi (Eds.), New phenomenological studies in Japan (Vol. 101, pp. 57–68). Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-11893-8_5

Varela, F. J., & Shear, J. (Eds.). (1999). The view from within: First-person approaches to the study of consciousness. Imprint Academic.

Velmans, M. (1991). Is human information processing conscious? Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 14(4), 651–669. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X00071776

Wells, H. G. (1997). “The country of the blind” and other science-fiction stories (M. Gardner, Ed.). Dover Publications.

Published
2024-02-03
How to Cite
Jurić, A. (2024). Neuroscientist who does not feel pain: Subjective ontology and the perspective anamorphosis of consciousness. Synesis: Journal for Humanities and Social Sciences, 5(1), 7-29. https://doi.org/10.7251/SIN2401001J