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Reductive materialism (Identity theory) claims that there is no independent, autonomous level of phenomena in the world that would correspond to the level of conscious mental states. It also states that the level of conscious phenomena is identical with some level of purely neurological description. Conscious phenomena are nothing over and above the neural level, thus it can be reduced to that level.
Similar reductions have taken place in the history of science:
- water = H2O
- visible light = EM-radiation at certain wavelengths
- temperature = kinetic of energy molecules
- pain = neural impulses in C-fibers
- seeing red = synchronization of neural activity at 40Hz in V4
A major criticism of this theory is that it leaves out qualia--what it is actually like to see red, or feel pain, or experience anything.