The shared project, but divergent views, of the Empiricist associationists

Philosophical Psychology 37 (4):759-781 (2024)
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Despite its long period of dominance, the details of associationism as developed by the British Empiricists in the 18th and 19th centuries are often ignored or forgotten today. Perhaps as a result, modern understandings of Empiricist associationism are often oversimplified. In fact, there is no single core view that can be viewed as definitional, or even weaker, as characteristic, of the tradition. The actual views of associationists in this tradition are much more diverse than any such view would allow, even on fundamental aspects of the concept of association. This paper presents some of the most striking theoretical diversity and most significant discussions within the Empiricist associationist tradition. Recognizing this diversity, Empiricist associationism is best viewed as a project with shared questions and methods rather than a shared substantive theory of mind. This discussion can inform our understanding of the historical tradition, and also inform our current use of association and associationism. The concept of association is more flexible than it is often treated, and even its basic nature and function remain up for debate.



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Mike Dacey
Bates College

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Trains of Thought Long Associated with Action.Trip Glazer - 2024 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 41 (1):1-22.

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A Treatise of Human Nature.David Hume & A. D. Lindsay - 1958 - Philosophical Quarterly 8 (33):379-380.
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