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Balkan Journal of Philosophy

Volume 11, Issue 2, 2019

Franz Riffert
Pages 83-106

Consciousness: The Point of View of Process Philosophy and Genetic Structuralism
A Critical Comparison and Some Consequences

First a sketch of the current state of the debate of the phenomenon of consciousness is provided; based on it David Chalmer’s distinction between the weak and the hard problem of consciousness will be introduced. It will be indicated that Whitehead’s process philosophy is able to offer a promising basis for solving the hard problem by showing how the concept of consciousness is anchored in his metaphysical theory. In the remaining parts of the paper the so-called weak problem of consciousness will be addressed in more detail by comparing Whitehead’s speculative account with Piaget’s empirical research results concerning the phenomenon of consciousness. By showing that Whitehead’s and Piaget’s positions on consciousness overlap widely a kind of indirect empirical support of Whitehead’s philosophical position will be achieved. At those points where the two positions deviate – that is in only two points – there are indications that Whitehead holds the more plausible position. So this investigation confirms William Seager’s suggestion that more attention should be drawn to Whitehead’s process philosophy when trying to solve the hard, as well as the weak problem of consciousness. In order to substantiate this claim two topics are discussed from the point of view of Whitehead’s position of consciousness: (a) learning and consciousness and (b) artificial consciousness.

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