The one and the many of experience: the tension between mereology and holism in Tim Bayne's account of the unity of consciousness
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 15:15 authored by Antonios Kaldas
When eating a grape while listening to a symphony, you have a single phenomenally unified experience containing both component experiences, rather than many disjoint ones. Tim Bayne's account of the unity of consciousness has two features that seem to be in tension with each other. On the one hand, he insists that component experiences are real token phenomenal experiences in their own right (mereology) and that phenomenal unity is grounded in mereological relations. On the other hand, he insists that the whole experience is metaphysically prior to the components and that component experiences cannot exist independently of the whole (holism). After briefly surveying previous objections to Bayne's mereological conception, I elaborate on this tension by comparing Bayne's holism with the "No Experiential Parts" view, and consider a number of interpretations of Bayne that might resolve the tension. Perhaps it is just a metter of different descriptions? Perhaps there is a special kind of decomposition? Or perhaps the mutual influence of component states upon each other's characters can support Bayne's account? Ultimately, none of them seem satisfactory, and the tension remains.