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EmergenceContemporary Readings in Philosophy and Science$
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Mark A. Bedau and Paul Humphreys

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780262026215

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262026215.001.0001

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Reductionism and the Irreducibility of Consciousness

Reductionism and the Irreducibility of Consciousness

(p.69) 3 Reductionism and the Irreducibility of Consciousness

John Searle

The MIT Press

This chapter explores a number of issues surrounding the term “supervenience” as related to “emergentism,” and discusses topics such as emergent properties, reductionism, why consciousness is an irreducible feature of physical reality, why this irreducibility has no deep consequences, and supervenience. By definition, consciousness is a causally emergent property of systems, just as solidity, liquidity, and transparency are examples of causally emergent system features. The existence of consciousness can be explained by the causal interactions between elements of the brain at the micro level, but it cannot itself be deduced or calculated from the sheer physical structure of the neurons without some additional account of the causal relations between them.

Keywords:   supervenience, emergentism, emergent properties, reductionism, causal interactions, causal relations

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