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Philosophical Realism

Last updated Jan 28, 2022 Edit Source

Certain features of reality (like objects, selves, etc.) exist independently of consciousness (that is, do not depend on conscious observation to exist). Keyword here is that not everything we encounter is real, but rather much of the world we experience consists of mind-independent realities that are categorized into certain fundamental types.

# 3 views of realism1

  1. Radical Realism: qualia are real and cannot be explained by science without radical changes in scientific theory
  2. Conservative Realism: qualia are real and can be explained using current understandings of science or extensions of it
  3. Frankish’ Illusionism: qualia do not actually exist but seem to exist
    1. We have limited introspective access to the contents of our mental but not the neural medium of those contents
    2. Mental content misrepresent non-phenomenal, physical properties as phenomenal (qualia) – Frankish refers to these as “quasi-phenomenal”
    3. This is like the Desktop Metaphor, a fiction created for the benefit of the user. In reality, there are no actual files, folders, etc. in its hardware representation. Dennet states that we use phenomenal properties as a sort of interface for the underlying reality
  4. Blackmore’s Delusionism: extension of illusionism
    1. Looking into consciousness reveals only what it’s like when we look

Related: Hard problem of consciousness


  1. This content is sourced from Professor Evan Thompson’s course materials for PHIL451A at UBC. All rights to this content is retained by Evan Thompson. ↩︎