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They are no more than the metaphors it currently uses when contemplating itself.’ (Merlin Donald, Origins of the Modern Mind) There is an overwhelming amount of literature about the nature of consciousness and its riddles.Yet one must necessarily work through this literature if one is interested in the philosophical and scientific details of the related debates.The distinctive point of Mc Ginn’s stance is that he believes we cannot determine how it is that the brain is responsible for consciousness.According to him, we are precluded from ever understanding this link given the way we form our concepts and develop our theories (1993: 2-3). He actually holds a realist conception of the world, although he admits we have to have a cognitive and perceptive closure to understand it all.How does a pattern of brain activity generate feeling?This is not a question about how that pattern of brain activity is generated, for that can be explained in the usual way, just as we explain how a pattern of activity in a car or a kidney is generated.
As Steven Harnard writes: Now what about the ‘how’?
For example, if being in pain is identical to being in a certain brain state, why can’t the person in pain identify such a brain state?
If the brain causes the mental state of anger, how can two such different conditions be related?
How can physical states of the brain account for such phenomenologically distinct states as mental ones?
How can it be shown that accessible third person descriptions of physical facts are descriptions of inaccessible first person mental states?
It is a question about how feeling itself is generated.