Neurobiological naturalism

Todd E. Feinberg, Jon Mallatt

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Neurobiological naturalism, an extension of John Searle's concept of biological naturalism, says primary (sensory) consciousness is a scientifi cally tractable problem based on natural laws although brains that possess consciousness display certain advanced neurobiological system-features. These features are complex, fast, hierarchical, systemwide, internal, and often topographically organized neuron-neuron interactions. We lay out the neurophilosophical problem of the ontological irreducibility of the subjective to the objective, describe the general and special neurobiological features of the conscious neural hierarchies in vertebrates, and then bring in evolutionary considerations to show how consciousness could have evolved in the fi rst vertebrates. Our combined neurobiological, neuroevolutionary and neurophilosophical approach offers a solution to the hard problem of how and why physical brains can cause experiences and why consciousness and subjectivity are neurontologically irreducible.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBiophysics of Consciousness
Subtitle of host publicationA Foundational Approach
PublisherWorld Scientific Publishing Co. Pte Ltd
Number of pages45
ISBN (Electronic)9789814644266
ISBN (Print)9789814644259
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2016


  • Consciousness
  • Emergence
  • Evolution
  • Hard problem
  • Nestedness
  • Neural hierarchies
  • Neurobiological naturalism
  • Ontological subjectivity
  • Qualia
  • Reductionism


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