I remember Leibnitz once particularly talked about this in one of his philosophy books (forget the book name, maybe Monadology). He said something like if consciousness can be made up of mechanical parts, then try imagine to expand this machine proportionally until you can locate where is the part to know "I". I never fully understand his meaning, but sounds like as a rationalist he didn't believe self-consciousness is of "mechanical" nature, thus couldn't be possible to reproduce simply via machines no matter how power and complicated like today's computer cluster.

Leibniz famously insisted materials in this world is not real substance (only monads are real), because you can always countably divide an extended material into further and further smaller parts, no where in this never-ending process you can find real perceptions or consciousness which requires a kind of unity attribute. This was the level I understood before. But I'm not convinced we cannot use distributed machines/computers to artificially "mimic" a perception or even consciousness, like many modern sensors in autonomous cars...

So in conclusion: can consciousness be explained by classic Reductionism or modern Emergentism or Vitalism? Seems here Leibnitz is a classic reductionist, and his famous Mill Argument employed Reductionist style to couter-prove there can be any consciousness in the infinitely divisible mechanical parts. But how about Emergentism?

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    This is known as the mill argument (Monadology, 17):"If we imagine that there is a machine whose structure makes it think, sense, and have perceptions, we could conceive it enlarged, keeping the same proportions, so that we could enter into it, as one enters into a mill. Assuming that, when inspecting its interior, we will only find parts that push one another, and we will never find anything to explain a perception. And so, we should seek perception in the simple substance and not in the composite or in the machine." – Conifold Feb 13 at 6:34
  • Ironically Leibnitz invented infinitesimal dx concept, which you have to go through a crazy uncountably dividing process to have a chance to arrive at "dx" starting from our world. So the "dx" concept defines mechanic part or a monad? For me it's still material. – Double Knot Feb 14 at 2:01
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    @DoubleKnot Emergentism or supervenience theories do avoid explanations by simply stating that consciousness is an emergent/supervening property of matter. Does that explain anything? Leibniz does have an early argument for why you cannot explain qualia physically here. You can correlate, ie. say "when this happens it corresponds to that", but what you found is still a mechanical/physical thing and not the perception itself. I doubt that the argument has anything to do with marginalisation. – Philip Klöcking Feb 15 at 8:15
  • @PhilipKlöcking Intuitively I felt similarly. For me, the explanatory gap of qualia is the same old gap btw our human mind perception/apperception/consciousness and the ultimate ontological reality, which can be intuitively felt strongly. However, Leibniz seemed fond of using a more strict reductional logic to "explain" this invincible gap, which cannot convince me, and thus my question above... – Double Knot Feb 16 at 1:36

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