1.3 Three theoretical possibilities

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Summary:
What is the connection between consciousness and the material world we experience? There are three theoretical possibilities.
1.3.0-1  We know that consciousness exists. That's all we know for sure. We have put a name to what consciousness does - it experiences qualia.

1.3.0-2  Consciousness experiences a world. It is an external world outside your eyes, ears and skin. There is also an inner world that is the brain and everything else inside you. You experience this as "yourself".

1.3.0-3  Awareness and substance. There are only three possibilities for how these two things can be connected:
  • Physicalism: The only thing that exists is matter, physical matter. Consciousness arises from the physical activity of the brain, we just do not understand how. This is the most widespread view among scientists. It's called physicalism.
  • Dualism: Consciousness is something independent and something other than matter. So there are two things in the universe. Consciousness and matter work together in a near-perfect way and are bound to each other. The church has this view and some scientists share it as well. We also find this notion in parts of Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism and many other Eastern religions and philosophical directions. Everything we humans experience happens in consciousness, but often religions accept at the same time what science says; that there is a universe consisting of physical matter. This view is called dualism - spirit and matter.
  • Idealism: Consciousness is the only thing that exists. Matter is not something physical, but a perception, experiences, thoughts, ideas in the consciousness. Some eastern directions, e.g. a branch of early Hinduism, Advaita Vedanta, believes this. They call it non-dualism. In the West, this view is called idealism. The two concepts are not identical, but they deal with the same basic view.