David M. Armstrong
What is the nature of the mind?
Given these associations, what the nature of mind is has important consequences for epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, religion, science, etc.
Take a human. What is it? Is it just a body, a mechanism?
In 1770, an inventor presented the Mechanical Turk to the Empress of Austria. The mechanism appeared to be able to play a strong game of chess against a human opponent.
There were many accusations, failures, hoaxes, etc., discrediting more naturalistic accounts of the mind. Those suggested that something more was needed to pull the strings in mind0related processes.
Today, we look at the contribution of Australian philosopher David Armstrong. Armstrong was born a generation after Ryle.
Ryle attacked non-naturalistic accounts by logical analysis: -
He sought to diagnose category mistakes that lead to hypostasize oversimplified concepts. -
The mind, is not a mysterious internal arena (eg. Descartes’ spiritual substance) -
The mind is not something behind the behaviour of the body, it’s simply part of the physical behaviour
Modern sciences contribute new clues on mental processes:
Biology: evolution from simple unicellular organisms
Molecular Biology/Genetics: physical & chemical basis of life Neurophysiology: Electro-chemical account of brain functions Endocrinology: hormonal effects on behaviour
Why so much credit to science?
Shouldn’t sciences, philosophy, religion, etc. all be considered equally? For Armstrong, all the latter fail to lead to consensus; it’s constant bickering. Because science alone can lead to consensus, it must be preferred. True, it’s surely fallible, but there’s nothing better.
Can it decide the right kind of question for our issue?
Ryle achieved Physicalism through Behaviourism.
Remember: the mind is not an inward arena, it’s an outward act. This view fits...
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