Persons and Their Minds: A Philosophical Investigation

Persons and Their Minds: A Philosophical Investigation

Persons and Their Minds: A Philosophical Investigation

Persons and Their Minds: A Philosophical Investigation

Synopsis

Persons and Their Minds compares the conflicting claims of mindism and personism and argues for placing persons at the center of philosophy of mind. Mindism stems from Descartes, takes the spectator stance, and makes the mind the subject of mental verbs such as "know," "think," and "believe." Personism stems from Wittgenstein and Ryle, takes the agent stance, and restores persons to their proper place as subjects of mental verbs. Employing lessons taught by Wittgenstein and Ryle, the book offers a running criticism of mindism as it appears in the work of Descartes, Locke, Davidson, Fodor, Hume, Parfit, Dennett, Searle, McGinn, Flanagan, Chalmers, and Baars, and demonstrates personism's ability to resist various forms of mindism. Intended for upper-level or graduate students of philosophy, Persons and Their Minds should also interest psychologists, psychotherapists, and other professionals who use philosophy of mind in their work.

Excerpt

I wrote this book because I wanted to read it. I wanted an answer to the question "What would philosophy of mind be like if Wittgenstein and Ryle were taken seriously?"

The short answer, of course, is that philosophers of mind would give up their allegiance to mind-body dualism and their attempts to solve the mind-body problem. They would instead turn to persons and look for mind in the ways that people conduct their doings and in the intertwined lessons in doing and saying that infants and youngsters learn in becoming full-blown persons. Philosophers, however, want a longer answer than that; they want an argument. My argument has become this book.

I examine two opposed lines of development in the philosophy of mind: mindism and personism. Mindism, the older line, stems from Descartes. Mindists work from the spectator stance and make the mind the subject of the so-called "mental verbs" such as know, believe, mean, understand, and feel. Personism, a philosophical reaction to mindism, stems from Wittgenstein and Ryle. Personists work from the agent stance and make a person the subject of the mental verbs. I offer a friendly, account of personism and a running criticism of mindism as it appears in the works of Descartes, Locke, Davidson, Fodor, Hume, Parfit, Dennett, Searle, and other mindists.

In Part I, Mindism and Personism, Chapter 1 compares the mindist philosophy of mind done from the spectator stance with the personist philosophy of mind done from the agent stance. Chapter 2 examines Descartes's program to distinguish mind and body and make the mind a thing that is private to each of us. Chapter 3 examines Locke's elaboration of Descartes's picture of the mind in which he seeks to make the mind each person's private, internal experience. Particular attention is paid to Locke's elaborate and varied use of metaphor to create his account of the mind, an example that continues to inspire the metaphorical inventiveness of his mindist successors.

Chapter 4 presents the elements of Wittgenstein's philosophy of mind. I do not aim to be original here. I stick close to Wittgenstein to show how his teachings correct the errors of mindism. Chapter 5 examines Ryle's arguments for directing philosophers of mind to persons and to the ways persons conduct their doings. Chapter 6 considers the question of Ryle's . . .

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