A Materialist Theory of the Mind

A Materialist Theory of the Mind

A Materialist Theory of the Mind

A Materialist Theory of the Mind

Synopsis

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.

Excerpt

The suggestion that this book be reissued in a paperback edition, after so many years, came as a pleasant surprise to me. Among other things, it gives me an opportunity in this new Preface to give my opinion on 'what is living and what is dead' in a work that was always rather too long. (One reviewer spoke a little plaintively of 'sheer bulk'.)

There have been philosophers who were materialists about the mind almost from the beginning. But in this century, the view that mental states, events and processes are purely physical states, events and processes in the brain did not win much favour among philosophers until the work done by Ullin Place (1956), Herbert Feigl (1958) and Jack Smart (1959). And Feigl, though he did much to help resurrect this view, did not put forward as pure a physicalism as the other two. Place and Smart were working at the University of Adelaide, South Australia, at the time, and the attitude of the great majority of the philosophical world at the time was perhaps summed up by an English philosopher who remarked 'A touch of the sun, I suppose'. (I have checked the truth of this story with the philosopher in question. He is quite impenitent.)

Place never quite got the credit that he should have had as the pioneer, although Smart always acknowledged his role. A tactical mistake was made. While Smart published his paper in the Philosophical Review, and Feigl had the ear of important American philosophers, including Wilfrid Sellars, Place's article appeared in the British Journal of Psychology, little read by philosophers.

My book was part of a second wave of contributions to the topic

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