The identity between mind and object - Towards an overcoming of psychophysical dualism

Head: Riccardo Manzotti

Year 2019

The biggest problem of neuroscience today is the problem of conscious experience (Crick 1994-Chalmers 1996). No one knows how neural activity transforms or produces the conscious experience that is also the heart of our existence. Where do the colours, images and sensations that populate our lives come from?

In order to solve apparently impossible problems, warned Albert Einstein, it is necessary to put forward radical hypotheses that overturn the existing conceptual framework, which, at least so far, has proved incapable of finding any solution. In this spirit, the project is based on an innovative and original hypothesis about the nature of consciousness. The hypothesis is to look for the physical basis of consciousness not inside the body or the nervous system but outside, in the physical objects that surround the body.

In the simplest case, the direct perception of an existing object, the hypothesis considers the possibility that the physical basis constituting the expression of the object is the object itself. The role of the body (including the nervous system and the brain) would no longer be to form the physical basis of consciousness, but to provide the conditions of existence that update external objects. What is consciousness? Consciousness would be the set of objects that exist relative to a particular body. This hypothesis is defined as the hypothesis of the mind-object identity.

The project involves the collaboration of many national and international colleagues, including Alex Byrne, Dept. Of Philosophy, MIT; Ron Chrysley, Cognitive Science, University of Sussex; Paalvo Pylkannen, Dept. of Physics, Skovde; Antonio Chella, Department of Computer Science, Palermo; Pietro Perconti, Department of Human Sciences, University of Catania. The hypothesis has been presented in several volumes translated into several languages and is the subject of a monographic issue of the journal Frontiers of Psychology. The hypothesis is being presented at numerous international and national conferences.