Breaking new ground in the debate about the relation of mind and body, David Armstrong's classic text - first published in 1968 - remains the most compelling and comprehensive statement of the view that the mind is material or physical. In the preface to this new edition, the author reflects on the book's impact and considers it in the light of subsequent developments. He also provides a bibliography of all the key writings to have appeared in the materialist debate.
Real Materialism is a collection of highly original essays on a set of related topics in philosophy of mind and metaphysics: consciousness and the mind-body problem; our knowledge of the world; the nature of the self or subject; free will and moral responsibility; the nature of thought and intentionality; causation and David Hume.
This article describes a theory of the computations underlying the selection of coordinated motion patterns, especially in reaching tasks. The central idea is that when a spatial target is selected as an object to be reached, stored postures are evaluated for the contributions they can make to the task. Weights are assigned to the stored postures, and a single target posture is found by taking a weighted sum of the stored postures. Movement is achieved by reducing the distance between the (...) starting angle and target angle of each joint. The model explains compensation for reduced joint mobility, tool use, practice effects, performance errors, and aspects of movement kinematics. Extensions of the model can account for anticipation and coarticulation effects, movement through via points, and hierarchical control of series of movements. References: 170. (shrink)
If you’re a materialist, you probably think that rabbits are conscious. And you ought to think that. After all, rabbits are a lot like us, biologically and neurophysiologically. If you’re a materialist, you probably also think that conscious experience would be present in a wide range of naturally-evolved alien beings behaviorally very similar to us even if they are physiologically very different. And you ought to think that. After all, to deny it seems insupportable Earthly chauvinism. But a materialist who (...) accepts consciousness in weirdly formed aliens ought also to accept consciousness in spatially distributed group entities. If she then also accepts rabbit consciousness, she ought to accept the possibility of consciousness even in rather dumb group entities. Finally, the United States would seem to be a rather dumb group entity of the relevant sort. If we set aside our morphological prejudices against spatially distributed group entities, we can see that the United States has all the types of properties that materialists tend to regard as characteristic of conscious beings. (shrink)
This appeared in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 59:473-93, as a response to four papers in a symposium on my book The Conscious Mind . Most of it should be comprehensible without having read the papers in question. This paper is for an audience of philosophers and so is relatively technical. It will probably also help to have read some of the book. The papers I’m responding to are: Chris Hill & Brian McLaughlin, There are fewer things in reality than are (...) dreamt of in Chalmers’ philosophy Brian Loar, David Chalmers’ The Conscious Mind Sydney Shoemaker, On David Chalmers’ The Conscious Mind Stephen Yablo, Concepts and consciousness Contents. (shrink)
ABSTRACTMaterialism is the view that everything that is real is material or is the product of material processes. It tends to take either a ‘cosmological’ form, as a claim about the ultimate nature of the world, or a more specific ‘psychological’ form, detailing how mental processes are brain processes. I focus on the second, psychological or cerebral form of materialism. In the mid-to-late eighteenth century, the French materialist philosopher Denis Diderot was one of the first to notice that any (...) self-respecting materialist had to address the question of the status and functional role of the brain, and its relation to our mental life. After this the topic grew stale, with knee-jerk reiterations of ‘psychophysical identity’ in the nineteenth-century, and equally rigid assertions of anti-materialism. In 1960s philosophy of mind, brain–mind materialism reemerged as ‘identity theory’, focusing on the identity between mental processes and cerebral processes. In contrast, Diderot’s cerebral materialism allows... (shrink)
We are material beings in a material world, but we are also beings who have experiences and feelings. How can these subjective states be just a matter of matter? To defend materialism, philosophical materialists have formulated what is sometimes called "the phenomenal-concept strategy," which holds that we possess a range of special concepts for classifying the subjective aspects of our experiences. In Consciousness Revisited, the philosopher Michael Tye, until now a proponent of the the phenomenal-concept strategy, argues that the (...) strategy is mistaken. A rejection of phenomenal concepts leaves the materialist with the task of finding some other strategy for defending materialism. Tye points to four major puzzles of consciousness that arise: How is it possible for Mary, in the famous thought experiment, to make a discovery when she leaves her black-and-white room? In what does the explanatory gap consist and how can it be bridged? How can the hard problem of consciousness be solved? How are zombies possible? Tye presents solutions to these puzzles -- solutions that relieve the pressure on the materialist created by the failure of the phenomenal-concept strategy. In doing so, he discusses and makes new proposals on a wide range of issues, including the nature of perceptual content, the conditions necessary for consciousness of a given object, the proper understanding of change blindness, the nature of phenomenal character and our awareness of it, whether we have privileged access to our own experiences, and, if we do, in what such access consists. (shrink)
(1) Materialists hold that every real, concrete phenomenon in the universe is a wholly physical phenomenon. (2) Consciousness ('what-it's-likeness', etc.) is the most certainly existing real, concrete phenomenon there is. It follows that (3) all serious materialists must grant that consciousness is a wholly physical phenomenon. ‘How can consciousness possibly be physical, given what we know about the physical?’ To ask this question is already to have gone wrong. We have no good reason (as Priestley, Eddington, Russell and others observe) (...) to think that we know anything about the physical that gives us any reason to find any problem in the idea that consciousness is wholly physical. (shrink)
This paper discusses the materialist views of Margaret Cavendish, focusing on the relationships between her views and those of two of her contemporaries, Thomas Hobbes and Henry More. It argues for two main claims. First, Cavendish's views sit, often rather neatly, between those of Hobbes and More. She agreed with Hobbes on some issues and More on others, while carving out a distinctive alternative view. Secondly, the exchange between Hobbes, More, and Cavendish illustrates a more general puzzle about just what (...) divided materialists from their opponents. Seemingly straightforward disagreements about whether incorporeal substances exist turn out to be more complex ones in which the nature of those things is disputed at the same time as their existence. (shrink)
Short version of 'Real materialism', given at Tucson III Conference, 1998. (1) physicalism is true (2) the qualitative character of experience is real, as most naively understood ... so (3) the qualitative character of experience (considered specifically as such) is wholly physical. ‘How can consciousness possibly be physical, given what we know about the physical?’ To ask this question is already to have gone wrong. We have no good reason (as Priestley and Russell and others observe) to think that (...) we know anything about the physical that gives us any reason to find any problem in the idea that consciousness is wholly physical. (shrink)
Rosemary Hennessy confronts some of the impasses in materialist feminist work on rethinking `woman' as a discursively constructed subject. She argues for a theory of discourse as ideology taking into account the work of Kristeva, Foucault and Laclau.
The present framing of the cultural debate in terms of materialism versus religion has allowed materialism to go unchallenged as the only rationally-viable metaphysics. This book seeks to change this. It uncovers the absurd implications of materialism and then, uniquely, presents a hard-nosed non-materialist metaphysics substantiated by skepticism, hard empirical evidence, and clear logical argumentation. It lays out a coherent framework upon which one can interpret and make sense of every natural phenomenon and physical law, as well (...) as the modalities of human consciousness, without materialist assumptions. According to this framework, the brain is merely the image of a self-localization process of mind, analogously to how a whirlpool is the image of a self-localization process of water. The brain doesn’t generate mind in the same way that a whirlpool doesn’t generate water. It is the brain that is in mind, not mind in the brain. Physical death is merely a de-clenching of awareness. The book closes with a series of educated speculations regarding the afterlife, psychic phenomena, and other related subjects. (shrink)
The modern materialist approach to life has conspicuously failed to explain such central mind-related features of our world as consciousness, intentionality, meaning, and value. This failure to account for something so integral to nature as mind, argues philosopher Thomas Nagel, is a major problem, threatening to unravel the entire naturalistic world picture, extending to biology, evolutionary theory, and cosmology.Since minds are features of biological systems that have developed through evolution, the standard materialist vision of evolutionary biology is fundamentally incomplete. And (...) the cosmological history that led to the origin of life and the coming into existence of the conditions for evolution cannot be a merely materialist history, either. An adequate conception of nature would have to explain the appearance in the universe of materially irreducible conscious minds, as such.Nagel's skepticism is not based on religious belief or on a belief in any definite alternative. In Mind and Cosmos, he does suggest that if the materialist account is wrong, then principles of a different kind may also be at work in the history of nature, principles of the growth of order that are in their logical form theological rather than mechanic.In spite of the great achievements of the physical sciences, reductive materialism is a world view ripe for displacement. Nagel shows that to recognize its limits is the first step in looking for alternatives, or at least in being open to their possibility. (shrink)
Contemporary Materialism presents an important collection of recent work on materialism in connection with metaphysics, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind and theories of value. This anthology charts the contemporary problems, positions and themes on the topic of materialism. It illuminates materialism's complex intersection with related subjects such as cognition and psychology. By gathering a wide-range of philosophical interventions around the subject of materialism, this anthology provides a valuable discussion of how materialism can effectively (...) serve the purposes of philosophical assessment. To further assist the reader, it also contains an extensive bibliography on contemporary materialism. (shrink)
The consensus is that musical works and other ‘multiple’ artworks are abstract objects of some sort. According to the standard objections to musical materialism, multiple artworks cannot be identified with any concrete manifestation since concrete manifestations are many, and one thing cannot be identical to many. Multiple artworks are particularly good, while particular concrete manifestations are particularly bad, at surviving the destruction of particular concrete manifestations. Finally, multiple artworks cannot be identified with a particular sum of concrete manifestations since (...) sums and works differ modally. This paper aims to show that by appealing to recent work on the metaphysics of material objects, musical materialists avoid the standard objections. (shrink)
Eliminative materialism (or eliminativism) is the radical claim that our ordinary, common-sense understanding of the mind is deeply wrong and that some or all of the mental states posited by common-sense do not actually exist. Descartes famously challenged much of what we take for granted, but he insisted that, for the most part, we can be confident about the content of our own minds. Eliminative materialists go further than Descartes on this point, since they challenge of the existence of (...) various mental states that Descartes took for granted. (shrink)
Many Christians who argue against Christian materialism direct their arguments against what I call ‘Type-I materialism’, the thesis that I cannot exist without my organic body. I distinguish Type-I materialism from Type-II materialism, which entails only that I cannot exist without some body that supports certain mental functions. I set out a version of Type-II materialism, and argue for its superiority to Type-I materialism in an age of science. Moreover, I show that Type-II (...) class='Hi'>materialism can accommodate Christian doctrines like the Resurrection of the Body, the Incarnation, and the intermediate state (if there is one). (shrink)
First, The doctrine of naturalism, That reality is spatio-Temporal, Is defended. Second, The doctrine of materialism or physicalism, That this spatio-Temporal reality involves nothing but the entities of physics working according to the principles of physics, Is defended. Third, It is argued that these doctrines do not constitute a "first philosophy." a satisfactory first philosophy should recognize universals, In the form of instantiated properties and relations. Laws of nature are constituted by relations between universals. What universals there are, And (...) what relations hold between them, Must be discovered "a posteriori" by scientific investigation. (shrink)
MATERIALISTS claim that in principle mentality could be accounted for entirely by properties of matter. They must, of course, clarify, as far as possible, the precise scope of the concept "properties of matter." According to materialists there exists only one type of "substance" in the universe, namely matter. Sophisticated experimental and theoretical analyses have led contemporary physicists to interpret known material entities as being composed of two classes of elementary particles, namely quarks and leptons and constituents of interaction fields that (...) mediate interactions between some or all of the elementary particles and which comprise photons, gluons, intermediate bosons and gravitons. For instance, protons and neutrons are composed--by hypothesis--of quarks, while electrons are probably the most familiar leptons. Whether any analyzed and postulated elementary particles and constituents of interaction fields are "ultimate" components of matter can never be known. It remains always possible that more basic subcomponents of known components will be discovered. This has happened repeatedly throughout the history of physics. Hence, what physicists understand by the "physical properties" of the basic components of matter must always remain expressed in terms of usually intricate hypothetico-deductive theories which are tentative and fallible. Contemporary relativistic quantum mechanics of elementary particles and of interaction fields provide typical examples of such hypothetico-deductive theories relating to present known basic components of matter. (shrink)
This is a sustained critique of materialism. The contributors offer arguments from conscious experience, rational thought, the interaction of mind and body, and the unity and persisting identity of human persons, and develop a wide range of alternatives.
The aim of this paper is to defend a version of nonreductive materialism against the epiphenomenalist objection to which Davidson's anomalous monism has often been held to be vulnerable. After considering a number of options for dealing with the objection, I argue that an appeal to the notion of strong supervenience (properly explicated) can both rebut a common form of the "property" ("type") epiphenomenalist objection and provide a grounding for the causal relevance ("efficacy") of mental properties.
ABSTRACTMaterialism is the view that everything that is real is material or is the product of material processes. It tends to take either a ‘cosmological’ form, as a claim about the ultimate nature of the world, or a more specific ‘psychological’ form, detailing how mental processes are brain processes. I focus on the second, psychological or cerebral form of materialism. In the mid-to-late eighteenth century, the French materialist philosopher Denis Diderot was one of the first to notice that any (...) self-respecting materialist had to address the question of the status and functional role of the brain, and its relation to our mental life. After this the topic grew stale, with knee-jerk reiterations of ‘psychophysical identity’ in the nineteenth-century, and equally rigid assertions of anti-materialism. In 1960s philosophy of mind, brain–mind materialism reemerged as ‘identity theory’, focusing on the identity between mental processes and cerebral processes. In contrast, Diderot’s cerebral materialism allows for a more culturally sedimented sense of the brain, which he described in his late Elements of Physiology as a ‘book – except it is a book which reads itself’. Diderot thus provides a lesson for materialism as it reflects on the status of the brain, science and culture. (shrink)
Much of contemporary philosophy of mind is marked by a dissatisfaction with the two main positions in the field, standard materialism and standard dualism, and hence with the search for alternatives. My concern in this paper is with two such alternatives. The first, which I will call non-standard materialism, is a position I have defended in a number of places, and which may take various forms. The second, panpsychism, has been defended and explored by a number of recent (...) writers. My main goals are: (a) to explain the differences between these positions; and (b) to suggest that non-standard materialism is more plausible than panpsychism. (shrink)
As the issue of marketing's social responsibility grows in significance, the topic of materialism surfaces. While many marketing efforts encourage materialism, the materialism that is encouraged may have negative societal effects. An understanding of the effects of materialism on individuals, families, society, etc., is important in evaluating whether or not it is socially irresponsible for marketers to encourage materialism. However, the adequate empirical work has not yet been done on the overall effects of materialism. (...) The current paper asks and addresses one important empirical question in this area. Do consumers who are more materialistic have different ethical standards than those who are not? Empirical evidence is presented which would indicate that materialism is negatively correlated with people's higher ethical standards as consumers. The implications for this in understanding social responsibility are discussed. (shrink)
Contemporary Materialism brings together the best recent work on materialism from many of our leading contemporary philosophers. This is the first comprehensive reader on the subject. The majority of philosophers and scientists today hold the view that all phenomena are physical, as a result materialism or 'physicalism' is now the dominant ontology in a wide range of fields. Surprisingly no single book, until now, has collected the key investigations into materialism, to reflect the impact it has (...) had on current thinking in metaphysics, philosophy of mind and the theory of value. The classic papers in this collection chart contemporary problems, positions and themes in materialism. At the invitation of the editors, many of the papers have been specially up-dated for this collection: follow-on pieces written by the contributors enable them to appraise the original paper and assess developments since the work was first published. The book's selections are largely non-technical and accessible to advanced undergraduates. The editors have provided a useful general introduction, outlining and contextualising this central system of thought, as well as a topical bibliography. Contemporary Materialism will be vital reading for anyone concerned to discover the ideas underlying contemporary philosophy. David Armstrong, University of Sydney; Jerry Fodor, Rutgers University, New Jersey; Tim Crane, University College, London; D. H. Mellor, Univeristy of Cambridge; J.J.C. (shrink)
The expression ‘nonreductive materialism’ refers to a variety of positions whose roots lie in attempts to solve the mind-body problem. Proponents of nonreductive materialism hold that the mental is ontologically part of the material world; yet, mental properties are causally efficacious without being reducible to physical properties.s After setting out a minimal schema for nonreductive materialism (NRM) as an ontological position, I’ll canvass some classical arguments in favor of (NRM).1 Then, I’ll discuss the major challenge facing any (...) construal of (NRM): the problem of mental causation, pressed by Jaegwon Kim. Finally, I’ll offer a new solution to the problem of mental causation. (shrink)
1. Categories and the Scientific Turn of Metaphysics: The Notion of World-Fundamentality What are the fundamental inhabitants of the world? This question, as old as it is new, is about the fundamental structure of our world. Is our world a world of Aristotle's ordinary substances, Locke's physical substances, Husserl's wholes, Wittgenstein's facts, Sellars's processes, or Quine's sets? In order to distinguish the sort of metaphysical fundamentality at stake in this discussion from other possible types of fundamentality, I shall call it (...) from now on "world-fundamentality." In this article I want to make a proposal in the context of this metaphysical dispute. The proposal is the addition of a new criterion of world-fundamentality to the existing catalog of independence and simplicity, among some other prominent classical examples. I call this criterion "the materialist criterion of world-fundamentality" because it states that metaphysicians should not decide the question of whether our world is a world of facts rather than a world of sets or other categories without considering the explanatory power of such categories to account for the relation between "the manifest image" and "the scientific image," to use the words of Wilfrid Sellars. (shrink)
Early modern debates about the nature of matter interacted with debates about whether matter could think. In particular, some philosophers (e.g., Cudworth and Leibniz) objected to materialism about the human mind on the grounds that matter is passive, thinking things are active, and one cannot make an active thing out of passive material. This paper begins by looking at two seventeenth-century materialist views (Hobbes’s, and one suggested but not endorsed by Locke) before considering that objection (which I call here (...) the Activity Argument). In discussion, I note that several philosophers of the time believed that matter was active. That view opens up a possible response to the Activity Argument. The paper concludes by looking at the views of two materialists of the time who also believed that matter was active, Toland and Cavendish. (shrink)
This book provides an overview of key features of (philosophical) materialism, in historical perspective. It is, thus, a study in the history and philosophy of materialism, with a particular focus on the early modern and Enlightenment periods, leading into the 19th and 20th centuries. For it was in the 18th century that the word was first used by a philosopher (La Mettrie) to refer to himself. Prior to that, ‘materialism’ was a pejorative term, used for wicked thinkers, (...) as a near-synonym to ‘atheist’, ‘Spinozist’ or the delightful ‘Hobbist’. The book provides the different forms of materialism, particularly distinguished into claims about the material nature of the world and about the material nature of the mind, and then focus on materialist approaches to body and embodiment, selfhood, ethics, laws of nature, reductionism and determinism, and overall, its relationship to science. For materialism is often understood as a kind of philosophical facilitator of the sciences, and the author want to suggest that is not always the case. Materialism takes on different forms and guises in different historical, ideological and scientific contexts as well, and the author wants to do justice to that diversity. Figures discussed include Lucretius, Hobbes, Gassendi, Spinoza, Toland, Collins, La Mettrie, Diderot, d’Holbach and Priestley; Büchner, Bergson, J.J.C. Smart and D.M. Armstrong. (shrink)
The materialist approach to the body is often, if not always understood in ‘mechanistic’ terms, as the view in which the properties unique to organic, living embodied agents are reduced to or described in terms of properties that characterize matter as a whole, which allow of mechanistic explanation. Indeed, from Hobbes and Descartes in the 17th century to the popularity of automata such as Vaucanson’s in the 18th century, this vision of things would seem to be correct. In this paper (...) I aim to correct this inaccurate vision of materialism. On the contrary, the materialist project on closer consideration reveals itself to be, significantly if not exclusively, (a) a body of theories specifically focused on the contribution that ‘biology’ or rather ‘natural history’ and physiology make to metaphysical debates, (b) much more intimately connected to what we now call ‘vitalism’ (a case in point is the presence of Théophile de Bordeu, a prominent Montpellier physician and theorist of vitalism, as a fictional character and spokesman of materialism, in Diderot’s novel D’Alembert’s Dream), and ultimately (c) an anti-mechanistic doctrine which focuses on the unique properties of organic beings. To establish this revised vision of materialism I examine philosophical texts such as La Mettrie’s Man a Machine and Diderot’s D’Alembert’s Dream; medical entries in the Encyclopédie by physicians such as Ménuret and Fouquet; and clandestine combinations of all such sources (Fontenelle, Gaultier and others). (shrink)