The view that the brain is the seat of consciousness, but that its conscious states are not just physical states, is called dual aspect theory. It is called that because it means that when you bite into a chocolate bar, this produces in your brain a state or process with two aspects: a physical aspect involving various chemical and electrical changes, and a mental aspect -- the flavor experience of chocolate. When this process occurs, a scientist looking into your brain will be able to observe the physical aspect, but you yourself will undergo, from the inside, the mental aspect: you will have the sensation of tasting chocolate. If this were true, your brain itself would have an inside that could not be reached by an outside observer even if he cut it open. It would feel, or taste, a certain way to you to have that process going on in your brain.

[Thomas Nagel, What does it all mean, Chapter IV]

Does the word "it" refer to "chocolate"?

I don't know the use of "to have" in "to have that process going on in your brain". Could you explain this to me? I tried paraphrasing the sentence like this: "having that process going on in your brain would give you a certain feeling, or taste". Is it correct?

Many thanks

1 Answer 1


Your paraphrase with "having that process..." is correct and it has the same meaning as "to have that process going on...".

The word "it" is a dummy pronoun that acts as the subject of the sentence. It refers to the to-infinitival clause that starts with "to have that process...". That clause is called an extraposed subject. So, "it" doesn't refer to "chocolate".

Thoughtco "extraposition"

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