Radical Empiricism, Neutral Monism, and the Elements of Mind

The Monist 104 (1):125-151 (2021)
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Neutral monism is the view that both ‘mind’ and ‘matter’ are grounded in a more fundamental form of reality that is intrinsically neither mental nor material. It has often been treated as an odd fringe theory deserving of at most a footnote in the broader philosophical debates. Yet such attitudes do a grave disservice to its sophistications and significance for late nineteenth and early twentieth-century philosophy of mind and psychology. This paper sheds light on this neglected view by situating it within broader historical monist debates about the mind and bringing attention to one of its central internal disputes regarding ‘mental chemistry’. By taking a closer look at how Ernst Mach, William James, and Bertrand Russell address the question of whether and how our mental episodes are composed of more basic elements, it highlights deep differences among their conceptions of the fundamental ‘neutral stuff’ and its relations to ‘mind’ and ‘matter’.



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Donovan Wishon
University of Mississippi

Citations of this work

Neutral monism.Leopold Stubenberg - 2005 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Neutral Monism.Leopold Stubenberg & Donovan Wishon - 2023 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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References found in this work

The Problems of Philosophy.Bertrand Russell - 1912 - Mind 21 (84):556-564.
The Problems of Philosophy.Bertrand Russell - 1912 - Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 21 (1):22-28.
The refutation of idealism.G. E. Moore - 1903 - Mind 12 (48):433-453.
Psychologie vom empirischen Standpunkte.F. Brentano - 1876 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 1:209-213.
The Nature of the Physical World.A. Eddington - 1928 - Humana Mente 4 (14):252-255.

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