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Riccardo Manzotti: The Mind-Object Identity (MOI)

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HuME Student Seminar Series 2024

Riccardo Manzotti (IULM) 
The Mind-Object Identity (MOI)

The problem of consciousness is posed in terms that make it impossible. Neuroscience, despite over 50 years of declarations about good intentions to use the empirical method, is still stuck at the first step. It is usually thought there are two alternatives: either consciousness is external to the physical world (dualism, panpsychism) or consciousness is internal to the physical world, and in that case, it is believed to be located inside the skull. Unfortunately, since the mind-brain identity theory in the '50s, no one has been able to find anything that has the properties of our subjective experience. To overcome this impasse, neuroscience has considered numerous theories (from Tononi's IIT to NCCs, from the global workspace to the alleged emergent properties) that, however, explain nothing, but shift the problem and often, as in the case of IIT, do not seem to respect the rules of the scientific method. This situation has many elements in common with other famous moments of scientific progress stalemate that were there because pseudo-problems were posed, the result of the influence of wrong hypotheses or assumptions.
Is consciousness in neuroscience a pseudo-problem? I believe so. I think this problem depends mainly on the hypothesis that consciousness, if physical, must be located within the central nervous system. In my talk, I will consider a radical hypothesis: consciousness would be identical with external objects. During the presentation, I will explain how this hypothesis is perfectly compatible with both subjectivity and the apparent autonomy of experience. Thanks to an Eleatic-inspired ontological framework, I will introduce a notion of relative existence and show how it is compatible with illusions, dreams, hallucinations, and other forms of experience traditionally considered difficult for a realist position. This hypothesis is called Mind-Object Identity or MOI.
Byrne, Alex and Manzotti, Riccardo (2022), 'Hallucination and Its Objects', The Philosophical Review, 131 (3), 327-59.
Manzotti, Riccardo (2019), 'Mind-object identity: A solution to the hard problem', Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 1-16