Pre-thesis colloquium by Mr. S Siddharth on 'A Study on the Metaphysics of Conscious Experience' POSTPONED

National Institute of Advanced Studies

Indian Institute of Science Campus



Zoom Presentation

Pre-thesis Colloquium


Title: A Study on the Metaphysics of Conscious Experience


Candidate: Mr. S Siddharth

Advisor: Prof. Sangeetha Menon

Date:  Friday, 12 June 2020

Time:  2:00 pm

To join the Colloquium please click the link below:



This thesis is a study on the place of consciousness in reality. In contemporary western philosophy, this question has taken the form of the hard problem of consciousness—the metaphysical question of how there can be conscious experiences in a physical world. Two kinds of views have framed the discourse around this problem—physicalism, the view that all concrete entities including conscious experiences are physical, and dualism, the view that conscious experiences are a second kind of phenomenon distinct from the physical. Both physicalism and dualism face seemingly intractable challenges and the hard problem remains an open question. In recent decades, Russellian panpsychism, the view that conscious experiences are fundamental and intrinsic to all physical entities, has gained prominence as an alternative to physicalism and dualism. Proponents of panpsychism argue that it can address the shortcomings of both physicalism and dualism while retaining their advantages. However, panpsychism faces a metaphysical challenge of its own, the combination problem or the question of how experiences of fundamental physical entities combine to form experiences of higher-level entities such as human beings. Given this problem, critics of panpsychism have argued that the view does not offer any explanatory advantage over physicalism and dualism.  In this thesis, it is argued that panpsychism can satisfactorily address the combination problem. To do this, the thesis first explores the epistemological foundations of Russellian panpsychism, and in light of these, critically evaluates the various possible responses to the combination problem. It is argued that two specific panpsychist ontologies that do away with the need for combination can overcome the problem without facing explanatory gaps. Novel arguments against other panpsychist positions are also proposed.

All are invited to attend



Friday, June 12, 2020