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Keywords:

  • cognition;
  • evolution;
  • materialism;
  • naturalism;
  • pragmatism;
  • supervenience

Abstract: This article challenges the neo-Darwinist physicalist position assumed by currently prevalent naturalizing accounts of consciousness. It suggests instead an evolutionary (Deweyan) understanding of cognitive emergence and an acceptance of mental capacity as a phenomenon in its own right, differing qualitatively from, although not independent of, the physical and material world. I argue that if we accept that consciousness is an adaptation enabling survival through immediate individual intuition of the world, we may accept this metaphysics as a given. Methodological focus can then shift to investigating the, as yet untheorized, nature of consciousness itself as capacity/interconnectivity/potential. The article accepts Joseph Margolis's recent advocacy of a pragmatist approach that is “natural but not naturalizable” (Margolis 2002, 7), that is, an anti-reductionist as opposed to an eliminativist position, but it seeks to develop this position further and to give it new direction.