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The Nagel double-aspect theory and the qualia problem

Grant number: 20/05024-9
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): September 01, 2020
Effective date (End): August 31, 2021
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Philosophy - Epistemology
Principal researcher:Marcos Antonio Alves
Grantee:Heder da Silva Almeida
Home Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia e Ciências (FFC). Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP). Campus de Marília. Marília , SP, Brazil

Abstract

The Philosophy of Mind deals with questions such as those concerning the mind-body problem, the nature of mental processes and their relationship to action, the possibility of an objective and quantitative explanatory approach to such processes. Thomas Nagel develops an approach known as double-aspect theory seeking to provide answers to questions like these. On the one hand, this dualism differs from the physicality approaches of the mind by presupposing a duality between mental and physical processes. On the other hand, it distances itself from the substantial dualisms, denying the existence of two entities when we refer to minds and bodies. For Nagel, the brain is the basis of mental life, but conscious states are not mere physical states. The brain has physical and mental properties, these irreducible to the physical. In this project, we propose a critical analysis of the double-aspect theory, considering its position regarding the impossibility of an epistemological conception of qualia. We want to deal with the following problem: would double-aspect theory be a satisfactory perspective for the explanation of mental processes? Our hypothesis is that, given the subjective and qualitative character of these processes, such dualism constitutes an explanatory approach more appropriate than physicalists approaches, which reduce the mental to the physical, or than dualistic approaches such as substantial, since it does not need to advocate the existence of a metaphysical entity independent of the body to explain the mental phenomena.

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