If consciousness is a fundamental property of reality, as David Chalmers and other philosophers/physicists speculate, does this mean that many of the ontological problems in philosophy would be solved? For example, the problem of universals or the existence of fictional characters. After all, both "redness" and "Sherlock Holmes" and the "number 11" exist in consciousness.

Based on this argument, "God" could be nothing but consciousness itself and all things could exist in it, and nothing could exist outside of it.

Are there any philosophers who have addressed this argument or is this reasoning logically wrong and not worth pursuing?

  • The whole Vedic teachings, especially the Vedanta-sutra. There the conscious Self or Brahman is described as the ultimate truth. Dec 1, 2020 at 19:19
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    No. "Existence in a property" makes no sense, so if consciousness is a property, even fundamental as in property dualism, it can not explain existence of entities, such as universals or fictions. If consciousness is rather something like a fundamental entity, that might help, but it creates a host of other problems. Still, this is, loosely, the approach in many forms of theistic idealism, like neo-Platonism, Leibniz's monadology, Berkeley's subjective idealism or Hegel's absolute idealism.
    – Conifold
    Dec 1, 2020 at 20:51
  • There are no proves that "redness", "Sherlock Holmes", and the "number 11" ontololgically exist in consciousness, are there? Instead, “the perception of, the illusion of, or the hallucination of redness” and “the thinking of, the imagiantion of, and the delusion of Sherlock Holmes and the number 11” exist in consciousness, but they are not ontologically entities in themsleves but some mainfestations of consciousness. If idealism is not true, the redness, Sherlock Holmes, and the number 11 can exist outside the consciousness (but whether they really do is another matter).
    – user287279
    Dec 2, 2020 at 1:31
  • yes. both the advaita philosophy of hinduism and the buddhist mahayana school assert this. See archive.org/details/IndianPhilosophyACriticalSurvey which will delve into both. Dec 2, 2020 at 5:23

2 Answers 2


No, postulating consciousness as a fundamental property of reality does not solve the ontology problems of philosophy. There are two primary reasons:

  1. There are multiple ontology problems. AWARENESS, which is the essence of consciousness, is time-specific, which is fundamentally different from CONCEPTS -- the time independent numbers, universals, and fictional characters you reference. Popper and Frege describe matter (with time and space) as world 1, experience (consciousness, with time but no space) as world 2, and ideas (no time, no space) as world 3. Adding a world 2 to world 1 does not address world 3 questions at all ontologically.

  2. Part of the ontology problem is the problem of INTERACTION, which simply postulating a substrate does not address. Chalmers relies upon magical correlation to allow apparent but not actual interaction to happen, as he assumes causal closure of the physical is true. Reject his magic, and one then needs some actual interactive mechanism to allow causation between substrates.

There are philosophers who pursue your Mind at Large mode of thinking. An excellent compilation of current Mind at Large thinking is found in Beyond Physicalism. While this work shows there is current active thought in this area, my critical review points out questions they have not been addressing. https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/RZY1A4EL2JOZ4?ref=pf_vv_at_pdctrvw_srp


‘Chalmers characterizes his view as "naturalistic dualism": naturalistic because he believes mental states supervenes "naturally" on physical systems (such as brains); dualist because he believes mental states are ontologically distinct from and not reducible to physical systems.’


Chalmers, at least, seems to distinguish between the ontology of actual physical systems ( the real Scotland Yard, e.g.) and mental states (the fiction of Doyle, e.g.). So while Holmes exists in a mental state (fiction), and Scotland Yard actually exists in the physical system of the universe, say, the ontologies of the real S.Y. and the fictional Holmes have never overlapped, and never can.

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