Many have a strong intuition that consciousness cannot be a brain process, but what are the arguments for this claim? I’m listing every one I can think of below. If you know any others, please let me know in the comments this could be a useful quick-and-dirty resource for people thinking about the topic. For some I list the names most associated with the arguments. If I have made any mistakes in phrasing, or attribution, please let me know.
Note when I say it is a list of arguments that consciousness cannot be a ‘brain process’ I really just mean arguments against physicalist/naturalistic theory of consciousness. Obviously there exists naturalistic theories that are anti-brain such as some versions of functionalism and computationalism. I posed it in a neurocentric way because this is philosophy of brains.com.
While some of the arguments are pretty bad (e.g., number 4), I have heard every one of them from real people who were intelligent enough to be arguing about the relationship between consciousness and the brain. That is, they weren’t dummies.
Arguments that physicalism about consciousness is wrong
1. It is impossible to imagine how mere neuronal tissue could produce conscious experience (Huxely)
2. Failures of supervenience, such as zombies and inverted spectra, are conceivable (Chalmers, Locke, etc).
3. Mary learns something (Jackson).
4. Brains have mass, volume, and other physical properties, but experiences do not.
5. Paranormal phenomena (near death experiences, ghosts, ESP)
are real, and involve consciousness implemented in a nonphysical
6. If shrunken so I can stroll around your brain and look about, I will observe neuronal processes, not experiences (Leibniz).
7. The soul is the seat of consciousness, and the soul is not physical.
8. Conscious experiences have intrinsic qualities, but science can only tell us about relational qualities (Russell, Rosenberg).
9. Consciousness cannot be observed; there will never be a consciousness detector that can tell you if a given creature is conscious.
10. Conscious experiences are not simply the movement of molecules, consciousness is more than mass in motion (Mill, Ward).