Anthony Collins on the emergence of consciousness and personal identity

Philosophy Compass 4 (2):363-379 (2009)
The correspondence between Samuel Clarke and Anthony Collins of 1706–8, while not well known, is a spectacularly good debate between a dualist and a materialist over the possibility of giving a materialist account of consciousness and personal identity. This article puts the Clarke Collins Correspondence in a broader context in which it can be better appreciated, noting that it is really a debate between John Locke and Anthony Collins on one hand, and Samuel Clarke and Joseph Butler on the other. Anthony Collins argues on behalf of John Locke's claim that it would be as easy for God to superadd the power of thinking to matter as for him to connect a soul to a body. Locke did not believe that matter could naturally produce thought or consciousness, but it was in God's power to make matter think. To defend Locke's claim Collins must defend the claim that there are emergent properties in the world – properties of a whole that are not possessed by the parts. Collins also defends a materialist version of Locke's account of personal identity against a variety of charges. Because the topics of debate in the correspondence are of such great interest to us, it deserves to be rescued from the neglect into which it fell and from which intellectual historians and philosophers have only recently and partially removed it.
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DOI 10.1111/j.1747-9991.2009.00203.x
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References found in this work BETA
Timothy O'Connor (1994). Emergent Properties. American Philosophical Quarterly 31 (2):91-104.
John Perry (ed.) (1975). Personal Identity. University of California Press.

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