Cognitive closure (philosophy)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

In philosophy of science and philosophy of mind, cognitive closure is the proposition that humans minds are constitutionally incapable of solving certain perennial philosophical problems. Owen Flanagan calls this position anti-constructive naturalism or the new mysterianism and the primary advocate of the hypothesis, Colin McGinn, calls it transcendental naturalism because it acknowledges the possibility that solutions might fall within the grasp of an intelligent non-human of some kind. According to McGinn, such philosophical questions include the mind-body problem, identity of the self, foundations of meaning, free will, and knowledge, both a priori and empirical.

New mysterians

In his (famous) essay "What Is It Like to Be a Bat?" Thomas Nagel mentions the possibility of cognitive closure to the subjective character of experience and the (deep) implications that it has for materialist reductionist science. Owen Flanagan noted in his 1991 book Science of the Mind that some modern thinkers have suggested that consciousness will never be completely explained. Flanagan called them "the new mysterians" after the rock group Question Mark and the Mysterians. According to McGinn, the solution to the mind-body problem cannot be grasped, despite the fact that the solution is "written in our genes".

Emergent materialism is a similar but different claim that humans are not smart enough to determine "the relationship between mind and matter."


See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Cognitive closure (philosophy)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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