Kevin Corcoran

Persons, Bodies and Consciousness, Oh My!!!

Volume 7 () / Issue 1, pp. 90-104 (15)
Published 14.07.2020

What kind of things are we? Well, we are persons, of course. But what kind of things are persons and, more particularly, human persons? I hold a view according to which persons are essentially psychological beings of a certain sort and that human persons in particular are wholly physical things, without being identical to the physical things that are their bodies. In other words, I hold a view according to which we are one thing and our bodies are numerically distinct things. And yet, as I believe that we are wholly physical things, I therefore reject substance (or person-body) dualism.I also believe that you and I could be exactly like computers or combustion engines, elaborate machines made out of wholly material components that interact with each other in such ways as to produce very predictable behaviors. But we're not. We have conscious experiences. There's something it's like for us, but not for computers or car engines, to taste a strawberry, to feel a pain, to see a sunset, to hear a Mozart Concerto or a Mumford and Sons anthem. Of course, both our brains and computers (and even our car engines) process information. But computers and car engines lack an experiential component. There's nothing it's like for them to see or hear or taste or experience anything at all.In the pages that follow, I aim to say just what persons are, explain the physicalist view of human persons I hold and also suggest (in a very brief, schematic and 'hand wavy way') just how consciousness might fit into an overall picture of a world made entirely of physical components.

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