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Abstract


Materialism, Phenomenal Subject and Its Ontological Status
Phenomenal consciousness, which is philosophical mystery in a lot of ways, is one of the most central problems of contemporary philosophy of mind. In the analytic tradition, the materialist/physicalist approach has been the dominant approach to understanding the nature of phenomenal consciousness. The first thesis of this paper is that “phenomenal subject,” along with the qualitative character, is the other essential element of phenomenal consciousness. Based on this thesis, the paper aims to put forward and justify the following two claims about the ontological status of phenomenal subjects and the possible reactions of the materialist/physicalist thesis to this status: (1) Phenomenal subjects are not ontologically vacant; rather they substantially exist, and (2)this ontological substantiality causes materialism to face an inevitable dilemma: The substantial existence of phenomenal subjects either must be explained away in materialist/physicalist terms as it is attempted to in the case of other mental items, or the substantial existence in question must be denied. On both options, materialist view is closer to fail than to succeed.<

Keywords
Phenomenal subject, self-consciousness, phenomenal consciousness, materialism, physicalism.


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