Forum Philosophicum

Volume 25, Issue 2, Autumn 2020

Richard Taye Oyelakin
Pages 293-310

Can Scientists Help Philosophers Regarding the Nature of Phenomenal Experience?

In response to Putnam’s computational hypothesis on the question of the nature of the mind, Searle and Churchland argue that the nature of mental states essentially consists of neurophysiological processes in an organic brain. However, this seems to imply that mental states are products of the brain and thus, contra Putnam, that an adequate account of mental states which excludes an implementing organic structure is impossible. To this extent, an attempt is made in the paper to structure a biological-organic program. By this structure, it is identified that mental state is a process of the whole organism which necessarily produces phenomenal experience. However, if phenomenal experience is a product of mental states, which consists in neural firings in the brain, then it appears the problem is reducible to a question of how; i.e. how does the brain do it? In turn, this may direct our attention to neuroscientists. However, the paper argues that even perceptual internalism, which is the theoretical basis of contemporary neuroscience, may not really be of help in this case. It is argued that the experimentation and observation which foreground scientific enquiry may not be able to sufficiently account for the how question without leaving some other questions unanswered. As a result, a seemingly implied otherworldly reality or principle is explored. It is submitted that our natural tendency and apparatus (what else do we have) do not appear to lead us forward. Again, withdrawing back to our natural system, our deficient human nature requires us to tread with caution but hopefully, perhaps, we may eventually make progress in this regard.