Thomas Aquinas and Nonreductive Physicalism

Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 79:217-227 (2005)
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Eleonore Stump has recently argued that Thomas Aquinas’s philosophy of mind is consistent with a nonreductive physicalist approach to human psychology. Iargue that by examining Aquinas’s account of the subsistence of the rational soul we can see that Thomistic dualism is inconsistent with physicalism of every variety. Specifically, his reliance on the claim that the mind has an operation per se spells trouble for any physicalist interpretation. After offering Stump’s reading of Aquinas and her case for the supposed consistency with nonreductive physicalism, I use Aquinas’s discussion of the mind’s operation per se to argue that the human mind is incapable of being physically realized. To support this general argument, I offer a detailed examination of Stump’s use of two criteria of physicalism drawn from contemporary functional analyses of the mind and argue that both are inconsistent with Aquinas’s theory.



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Kevin Sharpe
St. Cloud State University

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