This is a book about sensory states and their apparent characteristics. It confronts a whole series of metaphysical and epistemological questions and presents an argument for type materialism: the view that sensory states are identical with the neural states with which they are correlated. According to type materialism, sensations are only possessed by human beings and members of related biological species; silicon-based androids cannot have sensations. The author rebuts several other rival theories, and explores a number of important (...) issues: the forms and limits of introspective awareness of sensations, the semantic properties of sensory concepts, knowledge of other minds, and unity of consciousness. The book is a significant contribution to the philosophy of mind, and has much to say to psychologists and cognitive scientists. (shrink)
The concept of self has preeminently been asserted (in its many versions) as a core component of anti-reductionist, antinaturalistic philosophical positions, from Descartes to Husserl and beyond, with the exception of some hybrid or intermediate positions which declare rather glibly that, since we are biological entities which fully belong to the natural world, and we are conscious of ourselves as 'selves', therefore the self belongs to the natural world (this is characteristic e.g. of embodied phenomenology and enactivism). Nevertheless, from Cudworth (...) and More’s attacks on materialism all the way through twentieth-century argument against naturalism, the gulf between selfhood and the world of Nature appears unbridgeable. In contrast, my goal in this paper is to show that early modern materialism could yield a theory of the self according to which (1) the self belongs to the world of external relations (Spinoza), such that no one fact, including supposedly private facts, is only accessible to a single person; (2) the self can be reconstructed as a sense of “organic unity” which could be a condition for biological individuality (a central text here is Diderot’s 1769 Rêve de D’Alembert); yet this should not lead us to espouse a Romantic concept of organism as foundational or even ineffable subjectivity (a dimension present in Leibniz and made explicit in German idealism); (3) what we call 'self' might simply be a dynamic process of interpretive activity undertaken by the brain. This materialist theory of the self should not neglect the nature of experience, but it should also not have to take at face value the recurring invocations of a better, deeper “first-person perspective” or “first-person science.”. (shrink)
In this study, we develop a theoretical model of monetary intelligence (MI), explore the extent to which individuals’ meaning of money is related to the pursuit of materialistic purposes, and test our model using the whole sample and across college major and gender. We select the 15-item love of money (LOM) construct—Factors Good, Evil (Affective), Budget (Behavioral), Achievement, and Power (Cognitive)—from the Money Ethic Scale and Factors Success and Centrality and two indicators—from the Materialism Scale. Based on our data (...) collected from 330 university students in Czech Republic, we provide the following findings. First, our formative models are superior to our reflective models. Second, for the reflective model, money represents Power, Good, Achievement, and not Evil, in the context of materialism. Our formative model suggests that those who pursuit materialism cherish Achievement (vanity) but Budget their money poorly. Third, multi-group analyses illustrate that humanities students (62.4 % female) consider money as Evil and Budget their money poorly, while those in natural sciences (37.6 % female) do not. Further, men are obsessed with Achievement, whereas women do not Budget their money properly, suggesting reflective temptation for males and impulsive temptation for females. Our novel discoveries shed new lights on the relationships between LOM and materialism and offer practical implications to the field of consumer behavior and business ethics. (shrink)
Although the ethical judgment of consumers in the United States and other industrialized countries has received considerable attention, consumer ethics in Asian-market settings have seldom been explored. The purchase and making of counterfeit products are considered common, but disreputable, attributes of Southeast Asian consumers. According to the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), Indonesia ranks third among the leading countries of counterfeit items in Asia. Retail revenue losses attributed to counterfeiting amounted to US $183 million in 2004. Therefore, elucidating the (...) ethical perspectives of Indonesian consumers is an effective means of clarifying an important cultural influence on consumer behavior. This exploratory study of 230 Indonesians has many meaningful findings. First, certain personal attitudes apparently affect the ethical judgments of Indonesian consumers. Second, Indonesian consumers who exhibited high ethical concern over actively benefiting from illegal actions had high levels of materialism and idealism, as well as low levels of relativism. Third, materialism, idealism, and relativism significantly influenced whether benefits were created from actively engaging in some questionable activities (DELEGAL). Analytical results indicated that Indonesians with high materialism and relativism were more likely to engage in actions that were questionable but legal. Finally, consumer ethics were compared by applying demographic variables such as gender, age, education, religion, and occupation, indicating that all variables significantly varied except for religion. (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)
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)
Leibniz's mill argument in 'Monadology' 17 is a well-known but puzzling argument against materialism about the mind. I approach the mill argument by considering other places where Leibniz gave similar arguments, using the same example of the machinery of a mill and reaching the same anti-materialist conclusion. In a 1702 letter to Bayle, Leibniz gave a mill argument that moves from his definition of perception (as the expression of a multitude by a simple) to the anti-materialist conclusion. Soon afterwards, (...) in the Preface to the New Essays, Leibniz gave a different mill argument. That argument depends upon there being no arbitrary and inexplicable connections in nature, because God would not create such things. Later, in the 'Monadology', Leibniz again used the mill example in arguing against materialism. That passage too, I argue, uses an argument from inexplicability rather than from Leibniz's definition of perception. (shrink)
Twenty-three philosophers examine the doctrine of materialism find it wanting. The case against materialism comprises arguments from conscious experience, from the unity and identity of the person, from intentionality, mental causation, and knowledge. The contributors include leaders in the fields of philosophy of mind, metaphysics, ontology, and epistemology, who respond ably to the most recent versions and defences of materialism.
This powerful critique of Marx's historical materialism - as a theory of power, as an account of history, and as a political theory -has been revised to take note of the profound intellectual and political changes that have occurred since the first edition was published. Reviews from the first edition 'Giddens draws upon a formidable knowledge of anthropology, archaeology, geography, and philosophy to demonstrate the limitations of Marxism and to formulate his own interpretation of the history of societies ... (...) He does a masterful job of setting his theory within a historical and critical framework of writings on Marx. His clarity of thought and his deft and often humorous handling of the unavoidable jargon of sociology and Marxist political theory makes this book a critical work of the highest quality.' Journal of International Law and Politics 'By contrast with many practictioners in the rather murky area of social theory, Giddens clearly seeks to make himself understood, and he has the useful quality of provoking one to argument. He has let light into some dark places.' The Times Higher Education Supplement 'Although Marx, Durkheim, and Weber continue to fill more index space than any other authors, Critique is Giddens's most explicit and committed statement of his own conceptualization of social theory ... It is his most original and therefore most vulnerable book, at once a cause for celebration and an invitation to critical reappraisal of the author's entire theoretical project.' Environment and Planning. (shrink)
A survey was conducted to investigate the relationship of Australian consumers’ lived (experienced) spiritual well-being and materialism with the various dimensions of consumer ethics. Spiritual well-being is composed of four domains—personal, communal, transcendental and environmental well-being. All four domains were examined in relation to the various dimensions of consumers’ ethical beliefs (active/illegal dimension, passive dimension, active/legal dimension, ‘no harm, no foul’ dimension and ‘doing good’/recycling dimension). The results indicated that lived communal well-being was negatively related to perceptions of the (...) active/illegal dimension and the passive dimension and was positively related to perceptions of the ‘no harm, no foul’ dimension and the ‘doing good’/recycling dimension. Lived personal well-being was negatively related to perceptions of the active/illegal dimension and was positively related to perceptions of the ‘no harm, no foul’ dimension and the ‘doing good’/recycling dimension. Lived transcendental well-being was negatively related to perceptions of the passive dimension, the active/legal dimension and the ‘no harm, no foul’ dimension. Lived environmental well-being was negatively related to perceptions of the active/legal dimension and the ‘no harm, no foul’ dimension. The findings also indicated that materialism was positively associated with perceptions of actively benefiting from illegal actions, passively benefiting at the expense of the seller, actively benefiting from questionable but legal actions and benefiting from ‘no harm, no foul’ actions. Public policy implications of the findings and opportunities for future research are discussed. (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)
Between Feminism and Materialism is a bold attempt to make sense of the relationship between feminist theory and capitalism. Addressing a number of philosophical problems that have engaged feminists over the last few decades--universals and reason, nature and essentialism, identity and non-identity, sex and gender, power and patriarchy, local and global--this innovative book breaks through feminist waves and explains the paradoxes of feminist theory by demonstrating the on-going relevance of dialectics and the concepts of exploitation, ideology, and reification. Drawing (...) on first, second, and third "waves" of feminist theory, this exciting combination of existentialism, phenomenology, and critical theory delivers a proactive feminism ready to respond to the challenges presented by our thoroughly modern times. (shrink)
This paper considers Locke’s discussions of materialism, focusing on Essay 4.10. Here Locke – after giving a cosmological argument for the existence of God – argues that God could not be material, that matter alone could never produce thought, and that there could not have been eternal matter. The paper addresses three main questions. The first is about targets. Who, if anyone, is Locke arguing against here? The second question is about reasons. Locke argues against several materialist views here. (...) Is there some central concern driving Locke's arguments, some connecting theme? The third question is about human minds. What connection is there between the discussions of Essay 4.10 and Locke’s discussion of the possibility that God might superadd thought to matter? (shrink)
Colin McGinn urged that while a brain state P explains consciousness, a conception P is cognitively inaccessible to us. This paper argues that McGinn's argument for his form of materialism is committed to P being epiphenomenal or causally inert relative to such things as the movements of our bodies. As a result, McGinn's materialism creates a duality in the brain and thereby faces the same problem of epiphenomenalism which plagues the Cartesian dualist.
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)
I consider Leibniz's thoughts about Hobbes's materialism, focusing on his less-discussed later thoughts about the topic. Leibniz understood Hobbes to have argued for his materialism from his imagistic theory of ideas. Leibniz offered several criticisms of this argument and the resulting materialism itself. Several of these criticisms occur in texts in which Leibniz was engaging with the generation of British philosophers after Hobbes. Of particular interest is Leibniz's correspondence with Damaris Masham. Leibniz may have been trying to (...) communicate with Locke, but ended up discussing Masham's version of the argument for materialism that Leibniz attributed to Hobbes. (shrink)
It is often thought that materialism about themind can be clarified using the concept of supervenience. But there is a difficulty. Amaterialist should admit the possibility ofghosts and thus should allow that a world mightduplicate the physical character of our worldand enjoy, in addition, immaterial beings withmental properties. So materialists can't claimthat every world that is physicallyindistinguishable from our world is alsomentally indistinguishable; and this is wellknown. What is less understood are thedifferent ways that immaterial add-ons can maketrouble for (...) supervenience-theoreticformulations of materialism. In this paper, Ishall present a problematic kind of add-on thathas been ignored and look at threesupervenience-theoretic attempts to formulatematerialism in that light. (shrink)
This paper investigates the effects of Buddhist ethics on consumers’ materialism, that is, the propensity to attach a fundamental role to possessions. The literature shows that religion and religiosity influence various attitudes and behaviors of consumers, including their ethical beliefs and ethical decisions. However, most studies focus on general religiosity rather than on the specific doctrinal ethical tenets of religions. The current research focuses on Buddhism and argues that it can tame materialism directly, similar to other religions, and (...) through the specific Buddhist ethical doctrines of the Four Immeasurables: compassion, loving kindness, empathetic joy, and equanimity. The empirical results show the following: (1) Buddhism reduces materialism directly and through some of the Four Immeasurables, and (2) despite the doctrine of non-existence of the self, positive emotions toward the self are still present, and the self absorbs the effects of Buddhist ethics on materialism. The latter finding suggests a “resistance of the self” that is coherent with the idea of a consumer who leverages the self to go beyond it. (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)
This paper considers Margaret Cavendish's distinctive anti-mechanist materialism, focusing on her 1664 Philosophical Letters, in which she discusses the views of Hobbes, Descartes, and More, among others. The paper examines Cavendish's views about natural, material souls: the soul of nature, the souls of finite individuals, and the relation between them. After briefly digressing to look at Cavendish's views about divine, supernatural souls, the paper then turns to the reasons for Cavendish's disagreement with mechanist accounts. There are disagreements over the (...) explanation of particular phenomena, but also a broader disagreement over what to take as one's most basic causal model. (shrink)
I argue that Hobbes isn't really a materialist in the early 1640s (in, e.g., the Third Objections to Descartes's Meditations). That is, he doesn't assert that bodies are the only substances. However, he does think that bodies are the only substances we can think about using imagistic ideas.
Various studies on the impact of religiousness on consumer ethics have produced mixed results and suggested further clarification on the issue. Therefore, this article examines the effect of religiousness, materialism, and long-term orientation on consumer ethics in Indonesia. The results from 356 respondents in Indonesia, the largest Muslim population in the world, showed that intrinsic religiousness positively affected consumer ethics, while extrinsic social religiousness negatively affected consumer ethics. However, extrinsic personal religiousness did not affect consumer ethical beliefs dimensions. Unlike (...) other studies in developed countries, materialism and long-term orientation influenced only a few of the consumer ethical beliefs dimensions in this study. To date, the study is one of the first empirical studies to explore the impact of religiousness on consumer ethics in Indonesia. The study contributes to the debate on the impact of religiousness on consumer ethics and can assist managers and public policymakers in their effort to mitigate unethical consumer activities in Indonesia. (shrink)
In a recent paper, Eric Schwitzgebel argues that if materialism about consciousness is true, then the United States is likely to have its own stream of phenomenal consciousness, distinct from the streams of conscious experience of the people who compose it. Indeed, most plausible forms of materialism have to grant that a certain degree of functional and behavioral complexity constitutes a sufficient condition for the ascription of phenomenal consciousness – and Schwitzgebel makes a case to show that the (...) United States as a whole fulfills this condition. One way to avoid this counter-intuitive consequence of materialism about consciousness is to adopt what Schwitzgebel calls an “anti-nesting principle”: a principle that states that there can be no nested forms of phenomenal consciousness and that therefore a conscious whole cannot have parts that are themselves conscious. However, Schwitzgebel then proceeds in his paper to draw up various objections, notably based on thought experiments, in order to dismiss these kinds of “anti-nesting” principles. My aim in this paper is to present a version of a sophisticated anti-nesting principle that avoids Schwitzgebel’s objections. This principle is reasonable, intuitive, and as non-arbitrary as possible. Moreover, it can resist the objections mounted by Schwitzgebel against simple anti-nesting principles. This principle helps materialists avoid the implication that the United States has its own stream of consciousness, while granting consciousness to some entities which, in many cases, are intuitive instantiators of phenomenal consciousness. This principle therefore constitutes a way out for a materialist who wants to deny that the United States is conscious. (shrink)
Life poses a threat to materialism. To understand the phenomena of animate nature, we make use of a teleological form of explanation that is peculiar to biology, of explanations in terms of what I call the ‘vital categories’ – and this holds even for accounts of underlying physico-chemical ‘mechanisms’. The materialist claims that this teleological form of explanation does not capture what is metaphysically fundamental, whereas her preferred physical form of explanation does. In this essay, I do three things. (...) (1) I argue that the ‘vital categories’, such as life form and life-process, do not reduce to the ‘physical categories’ and show that there are no grounds for the materialist's metaphysically limiting claim; (2) I sketch a positive view on how vital and physical explanations can both apply to a given phenomenon, and on how they interrelate; and (3) I show that this view meshes nicely with evolutionary theory, despite being committed to a form of ‘biological essentialism’. (shrink)
Materialism, as traditionally conceived, has a contingent side and a necessary side. The necessity of materialism is reflected by the metaphysics of realization, while its contingency is a matter of accepting the possibility of Cartesian worlds, worlds in which our minds are roughly as Descartes describes them. In this paper we argue that the necessity and the contingency of materialism are in conflict. In particular, we claim that if mental properties are realized by physical properties in the (...) actual world, Cartesian worlds are impossible. (shrink)
There is an enduring story about empiricism, which runs as follows: from Locke onwards to Carnap, empiricism is the doctrine in which raw sense-data are received through the passive mechanism of perception; experience is the effect produced by external reality on the mind or ‘receptors’. Empiricism on this view is the ‘handmaiden’ of experimental natural science, seeking to redefine philosophy and its methods in conformity with the results of modern science. Secondly, there is a story about materialism, popularized initially (...) by Marx and Engels and later restated as standard, ‘textbook’ history of philosophy in the English-speaking world. It portrays materialism as explicitly mechanistic, seeking to reduce the world of qualities, sensations, and purposive behaviour to a quantitative, usually deterministic physical scheme. Building on some recent scholarship, I aim to articulate the contrarian view according to which neither of these stories is true. On the contrary, empiricism turns out to be less ‘science-friendly’ and more concerned with moral matters; materialism reveals itself to be, in at least a large number of cases, a ‘vital’, anti-mechanistic doctrine which focuses on the unique properties of organic beings. This revision of two key philosophical episodes should reveal that our history of early modern philosophy is dependent to a great extent on ‘special interests’, whether positivistic or Kantian, and by extension lead us to rethink the relation and distinction between ‘science’ and ‘philosophy’ in this period. (shrink)
This is a short (1,000 word) introduction to Hobbes's materialism, covering (briefly) such issues as what the relevant notion of materialism is, Hobbes's debate with Descartes, and what Hobbes's arguments for materialism were.
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)
My topic is the materialist appropriation of empiricism – as conveyed in the ‘minimal credo’ nihil est in intellectu quod non fuerit in sensu (which interestingly is not just a phrase repeated from Hobbes and Locke to Diderot, but is also a medical phrase, used by Harvey, Mandeville and others). That is, canonical empiricists like Locke go out of their way to state that their project to investigate and articulate the ‘logic of ideas’ is not a scientific project: “I shall (...) not at present meddle with the Physical consideration of the Mind” (Essay, I.i.2, in Locke 1975; which Kant gets exactly wrong in his reading of Locke, in the Preface to the A edition of the first Critique). Indeed, I have suggested elsewhere, contrary to a prevalent reading of Locke, that the Essay is not the extension to the study of the mind of the methods of natural philosophy; that he is actually not the “underlabourer” of Newton and Boyle he claims politely to be in the Epistle to the Reader (Wolfe and Salter 2009, Wolfe 2010). Rather, Locke says quite directly if we pay heed to such passages, “Our Business here is not to know all things, but those which concern our Conduct” (Essay, I.i.6). There would be more to say here about what this implies for our understanding of empiricism (see Norton 1981 and Gaukroger 2005), but instead I shall focus on a different aspect of this episode: how a non-naturalistic claim which falls under what we now call epistemology (a claim about the senses as the source of knowledge) becomes an ontology – materialism. That is, how an empiricist claim could shift from being about the sources of knowledge to being about the nature of reality (and/or the mind, in which case it needs, as David Hartley saw and Denis Diderot proclaimed more overtly, an account of the relation between mental processes and the brain). (David Armstrong, for one, denied that there could be an identification between empiricism and materialism on this point: eighteenth-century history of science seems to prove him wrong: see Armstrong 1968 and 1978.) Put differently, I want to examine the shift from the logic of ideas in the seventeenth century (Locke) to an eighteenth-century focus on what kind of ‘world’ the senses give us (Condillac), to an assertion that there is only one substance in the universe (Diderot, giving a materialist cast to Spinozism), and that we need an account of the material substrate of mental life. This is neither a ‘scientific empiricism’ nor a linear developmental process from philosophical empiricism to natural science, but something else again: the unpredictable emergence of an ontology on empiricist grounds. (shrink)
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.
After a brief history of Brentano's thesis of intentionality, it is argued that intentionality presents a serious problem for materialism. First, it is shown that, if no general materialist analysis (or reduction) of intentionality is possible, then intentional phenomena would have in common at least one nonphysical property, namely, their intentionality. A general analysis of intentionality is then suggested. Finally, it is argued that any satisfactory general analysis of intentionality must share with this analysis a feature which entails the (...) existence of a nonphysical "level of organization". (shrink)
One of the principal tasks Dennett sets himself in Consciousness Explained is to demolish the Cartesian theater model of phenomenal consciousness, which in its contemporary garb takes the form of Cartesian materialism: the idea that conscious experience is a process of presentation realized in the physical materials of the brain. The now standard response to Dennett is that, in focusing on Cartesian materialism, he attacks an impossibly naive account of consciousness held by no one currently working in cognitive (...) science or the philosophy of mind. Our response is quite different. We believe that, once properly formulated, Cartesian materialism is no straw man. Rather, it is an attractive hypothesis about the relationship between the computational architecture of the brain and phenomenal consciousness, and hence one that is worthy of further exploration. Consequently, our primary aim in this paper is to defend Cartesian materialism from Dennett’s assault. We do this by showing that Dennett’s argument against this position is founded on an implicit assumption (about the relationship between phenomenal experience and information coding in the brain), which while valid in the context of classical cognitive science, is not forced on connectionism. (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)
From Hegel to Engels, Sartre and Ruyer (Ruyer, 1933), to name only a few, materialism is viewed as a necropolis, or the metaphysics befitting such an abode; many speak of matter’s crudeness, bruteness, coldness or stupidity. Science or scientism, on this view, reduces the living world to ‘dead matter’, ‘brutish’, ‘mechanical, lifeless matter’, thereby also stripping it of its freedom (Crocker, 1959). Materialism is often wrongly presented as ‘mechanistic materialism’ – with ‘Death of Nature’ echoes of de-humanization (...) and hostility to the Scientific Revolution (which knew nothing of materialism!), also a powerful Christian theme in Cudworth, Clarke and beyond (Overhoff, 2000). Here I challenge this view, building on some aspects of Israel’s Radical Enlightenment concept (Israel, 2001), which has been controversial but for my purposes is a useful claim about the dissemination of a home-grown Spinozism, sometimes reformulated as an ontology of the life sciences, an aspect Israel does not address (compare Secrétan et al., eds., 2007; Citton, 2006). First, I examine some ‘moments’ of radical Enlightenment materialism such as La Mettrie and Diderot (including his Encyclopédie entry “Spinosiste”), but also anonymous, clandestine texts such as L’Âme Matérielle, to emphasize their distinctive focus on the specific existence of organic beings. Second, I show how this ‘embodied’, non-mechanistic character of Enlightenment ‘vital materialism’ makes it different from other episodes, and perhaps more of an ethics than is usually thought (also via the figure of the materialist as ‘laughing philosopher’). Third, I reflect on what this implies for our image of the Enlightenment – no longer a Frankfurt School and/or Foucaldian vision of ‘discipline’, regimentation and order (as in Mayr, 1986) – but ‘vital’, without, conversely, being a kind of holist vitalism “at odds with the universalizing discourse of Encyclopedist materialism, with its insistence on the uniformity of nature and the universality of physical laws” (Williams, 2003): vital materialism is still materialism. Its ethics tends towards hedonism, but its most radical proponents (Diderot, La Mettrie and later Sade) disagree as to what this means. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: Hobbes belonged to philosophical and scientific circles grappling with the big question at the dawn of modern physics: materialism and its consequences for morality. ‘Matter in motion’ may be a core principle of this materialism but it is certainly inadequate to capture the whole project. In wave after wave of this debate the Epicurean view of a fully determined universe governed by natural laws, that nevertheless allows to humans a sphere of libertas, but does not require a (...) creator god or teleology to explain it, comes up against monotheism and its insistence on the incoherence of an ordered world in the absence of a God and his purposes. The following questions were central to this debate: Can we understand the universe as law-governed in the absence of a god? If so, what room is there in a fully determined mechanical universe for human freedom? If humans do enjoy freedom, does the same hold for other animals? Is this freedom compatible with standard views of morality? (shrink)
Materialism is nearly universally assumed by cognitive scientists. Intuitively, materialism says that a person’s mental states are nothing over and above his or her material states, while dualism denies this. Philosophers have introduced concepts (e.g., realization, supervenience) to assist in formulating the theses of materialism and dualism with more precision, and distinguished among importantly different versions of each view (e.g., eliminative materialism, substance dualism, emergentism). They have also clarified the logic of arguments that use empirical findings (...) to support materialism. Finally, they have devised various objections to materialism, objections that therefore serve also as arguments for dualism. These objections typically center around two features of mental states that materialism has had trouble in accommodating. The first feature is intentionality, the property of representing, or being about, objects, properties, and states of affairs external to the mental states. The second feature is phenomenal consciousness, the property possessed by many mental states of there being something it is like for the subject of the mental state to be in that mental state. (shrink)
In 19651 Richard Rorty defended a theory of mind which has since come to be called' eliminative materialism'. The theory has attained some status as a distinct, autonomous brand of materialism; and it has been criticized at length in the literature, ... \n.
partial review of Thomas Nagel’s book, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False is used to articulate some systems-theoretic ideas about the challenge of understanding subjective experience. The article accepts Nagel’s view that reductionist materialism fails as an approach to this challenge, but argues that seeking an explanation of mind based on emergence is more plausible than seeking one based on pan-psychism, which Nagel favors. However, the article proposes something similar to Nagel’s (...) neutral monism by positing a hierarchy of information processes that spans the domains of matter, life, and mind. As depicted in this hierarchy, subjective experience is emergent, but also continuous with informational phenomena at lower levels. (shrink)
Orthodox neural materialists think mental states are neural events or orthodox material properties of neutral events. Orthodox material properties are defining properties of the “physical”. A “defining property” of the physical is a type of property that provides a necessary condition for something’s being correctly termed “physical”. In this paper I give an argument against orthodox neural materialism. If successful, the argument would show at least some properties of some mental states are not orthodox material properties of neural events. (...) Opposing philosophical orthodoxy, I show there are no posteriori identities -- identities that cannot be known of a priori. (shrink)
ABSTRACTDiscussions of the reception of materialist thought in Germany in the first half of the eighteenth century tend to focus, naturally enough, upon the homegrown freethinkers who advanced the cause of Lucretius, Hobbes, and Spinoza in clandestine publications and frequently courted the ire of the state for doing so. If the philosophers belonging to the mainstream of German intellectual life in that period are accorded a place in the story, it is only insofar as they actively set themselves against the (...) materialist threat and, in the course of working to undermine it, actually only succeeded in inadvertently drawing more popular attention to it. By contrast, in this paper I will show that it was not just insofar as the thinkers of the early eighteenth century played the role of the diligent critic and unwittingly propagated the views of their opponents that materialism can be said to have penetrated into the very mainstream of the German Enlightenment. Rather, as I will argue, there was a striking degr... (shrink)
The phenomenal properties of conscious mental states happen to be exclusively accessible from the first-person perspective. Consequently, some philosophers consider their existence to be incompatible with materialist metaphysics. In this paper I criticise one particular argument that is based on the idea that for something to be real it must (at least in principle) be accessible from an intersubjective perspective. I argue that the exclusively subjective access to phenomenal contents can be explained by the very particular nature of the epistemological (...) relation holding between a subject and his own mental states. Accordingly, this subjectivity does not compel us to deny the possibility that phenomenal contents are ontologically objective properties. First, I present the general form of the argument that I will discuss. Second, I show that this argument makes use of a criterion of reality that is not applicable to the case of subjective experience. Third, I discuss a plausible objection and give an argument for rejecting observation models of self-knowledge of phenomenal contents. These models fall prey to the homunculus illusion. (shrink)
This paper argues that the reading of Althusser which finds a pronounced continuity in his conception of the relations among science, philosophy, and politics is the correct one, this essay will begin with an examination of Althusser’s “scientism.” The meaning of this term (one that differs slightly from contemporary usages) will be specified before showing how and in what way Althusser’s political philosophy between 1960 and 1980 can be described as “scientistic.” The next section details the important political role Althusser (...) assigned to the sciences and particularly to the science of historical materialism during this period. This accomplished, the arguments of interpreters who emphasize the apparent difference in Althusser’s attitude towards science before and after 1980 will be considered. Here, possible reasons for such a reading will be rehearsed. Next, with the support of recently published and archival documents, this essay will engage in a close and comparative reading of Althusser’s texts from the 1970s and 1980s that have as their subject the relations among philosophy, science, and politics. This survey will show the continuity in Althusser’s position vis-à-vis the sciences: namely, that if we want good (i.e. desired) socio-politico-economic changes to result from our political actions, then it is necessary to engage in social scientific research or, at the very least, to consult such research and to use this knowledge in our political decision making. All this serves to support the conclusion that Althusser’s “new” political philosophy from the 1980s is not really so new. On the contrary, his writings on the materialism of the encounter and aleatory materialism represent prolongations and elaborations of positions and ideas already developed in the 1960s and 1970s and that include a mostly consistent understanding of the relations between scientific knowledge and political action. This is true even if the rhetorical and philosophical style in which these ideas are put forth in the 1980s differs from the ways in which these ideas were introduced during the prior two decades. (shrink)
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.
Management scholars, practitioners, and policy makers alike have sought to develop a deeper understanding of recent business crises—including corporate scandals, the collapse of financial institutions, and deep recession—in order to prevent their recurrence. Among the “culprits” that have been identified is Conventional management theory based upon a moral-point-of-view founded on assumptions of materialism and individualism. There have been calls to move beyond the dominant profit maximization paradigm and think about other, potentially more compelling, corporate objectives (Hamel, 2009 ). In (...) this article, we respond to those calls, and seek to develop what we call Radical resource-based theory (RBT), which draws from and contrasts with the highly-influential Conventional RBT. Radical RBT defines the value of resources more broadly than profit maximization, rarity as an occasion for stewardship, inimitability as an opportunity for teaching, and non-substitutability as an opportunity to meet a panoply of human needs. This augmentation of RBT promises to help managers and scholars address a myriad of problems that are insoluble under Conventional assumptions. More generally, it shows the value of broadening management theory to a radical perspective by relaxing assumptions of self-interest and materialism. (shrink)
In their recent book Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience, Max Bennett and Peter Hacker attack neural materialism (NM), the view, roughly, that mental states (events, processes, etc.) are identical with neural states or material properties of neural states (events, processes, etc.). Specifically, in the penultimate chapter entitled “Reductionism,” they argue that NM is unintelligible, that “there is no sense to literally identifying neural states and configurations with psychological attributes.” This is a provocative claim indeed. If Bennett and Hacker are right, (...) then a sizeable number of philosophers, cognitive scientists, neuroscientists, etc., subscribe to a view that is not merely false, but strictly meaningless. In this article I show that Bennett and Hacker's arguments against NM, whether construed as arguments for the meaninglessness of or the falsity of the thesis, cannot withstand scrutiny: when laid bare they are found to rest upon highly dubious assumptions that either seriously mischaracterize or underestimate the resources of the thesis. (shrink)
How should the metaphysical hypothesis of materialism be formulated? What strategies look promising for defending this hypothesis? How good are the prospects for its successful defense, especially in light of the infamous “hard problem” of phenomenal consciousness? I will say something about each of these questions.
A philosophy might take its general inspiration from (1) commonsense; (2) careful observation; (3) philosophical argumentation; (4) the sciences; (5) "higher" sources of illumination. It is argued in this paper that it is bedrock commonsense, and the sciences, which are the most reliable foundations for a philosophy. This result is applied to the discussion and defense of a materialist theory of the mind.