Experience and Structure: An Investigation in the History of Philosophy of Mind

Dissertation, University of California, Irvine (2002)

Paul Livingston
University of New Mexico
Historical investigation and analysis of the concepts of "consciousness," "experience," and "explanation" can clarify and sharpen contemporary discussion in philosophy of mind about the problem of explaining consciousness. I have investigated the difficulties of explaining consciousness at four historically important moments in the development of analytic philosophy of mind. In each chapter, I unearth and evaluate the arguments originally made for influential theories and doctrines, and analyze philosophical justifications for the positions of some of their most important adherents. I argue that theoretical innovations in the philosophy of mind have repeatedly taken the form of responses to various versions of a single underlying problem: the problem of the linguistic or logical analysis of the structure of immediate experience. ;The first chapter investigates the structuralist theory of the relationship of experience to meaning held by Schlick and the early Carnap, tracing to this theory some of the main tensions and problems that led to the protocol sentence debate and yielded the physicalism of Neurath. The second chapter analyzes the influential polemic between Schlick and Husserl on the nature of truths about the structure of experience. The third chapter investigates the methodology of analysis that underlies Ryle's influential project in The Concept of Mind, showing that Ryle was not at all a logical behaviorist and that a misunderstanding of his project played a decisive role in the origin of the Identity Theory of Place and Smart. Finally, the fourth chapter traces the development of Putnam and Fodor's functionalism in the 1960s as a corrective to the Identity Theory's inadequate treatment of the logic of first-personal psychological description. Collectively, the four case studies recommend a greater sensitivity to historical positions in the discussion of consciousness, and the reconnection of the current debate to an older discussion of the relationship of subjective experience to the world, objectively described
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