The mind-body problem: An overview

In Stephen P. Stich & Ted A. Warfield (eds.), The Blackwell Guide to Philosophy of Mind. Malden, MA, USA: Blackwell. pp. 1-46 (2002)
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My primary aim in this chapter is to explain in what the traditional mind–body problem consists, what its possible solutions are, and what obstacles lie in the way of a resolution. The discussion will develop in two phases. The first phase, sections 1.2–1.4, will be concerned to get clearer about the import of our initial question as a precondition of developing an account of possible responses to it. The second phase, sections 1.5–1.6, explains how a problem arises in our attempts to answer the question we have characterized, and surveys the various solutions that can be and have been offered. More specifically, sections 1.2–1.4 are concerned with how to understand the basic elements of our initial question – how we should identify the mental, on the one hand, and the physical, on the other – and with what sorts of relations between them we are concerned. Section 1.2 identifies and explains the two traditional marks of the mental, consciousness and intentionality, and discusses how they are related. Section 1.3 gives an account of how we should understand ‘physical’ in our initial question so as not to foreclose any of the traditional positions on the mind–body problem. Section 1.4 then addresses the third element in our initial question, mapping out the basic sorts of relations that may hold between mental and physical phenomena, and identifying some for special attention. Sections 1.5–1.6 are concerned with explaining the source of the difficulty in answering our initial question, and the kinds of solutions that have been offered to it. Section 1.5 explains why our initial question gives rise to a problem, and gives a precise form to the mind–body problem, which is presented as a set of four propositions, each of which, when presented independently, seems compelling, but which are jointly inconsistent. Section 1.6 classifies responses to the mind–body problem on the basis of which of the propositions in our inconsistent set they reject, and provides a brief overview of the main varieties in each category, together with some of the difficulties that arise for each. Section 1.7 is a brief conclusion about the source of our difficulties in understanding the place of mind in the natural world.

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Kirk Ludwig
Indiana University, Bloomington

References found in this work

Two Dogmas of Empiricism.W. Quine - 1951 - [Longmans, Green].
A Materialist Theory of the Mind.D. M. Armstrong - 1968 - New York: Routledge. Edited by Ted Honderich.
Minds, brains, and programs.John Searle - 1980 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 3 (3):417-57.

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