Mind -- on the Web
In contrast to the 15 hundred hits on 'immaterialism', 'mind' yields 26 million. Not surprising, really. But consider the uphill battle for those philosophers and scientists who wish to eliminate all reference to the mind as being scientifically illegitimate. They face a gargantuan job of censorship! Take the very first item: CIA Analyzes Mind of Iraqi Leader. What would be the scientifically correct rendition of this news item, I wonder? How about 'CIA Analyzes Cognitive Content of Saddam's Brain'? But does that not directly imply that Saddam's brain is in a vat in Langley? OK, so one could 'speculate about' the cognitive content of his brain, but there is still the implication that an analysis of the physical brain might, at some point, be relevant. How would we then make a distinction between Saddam as biological specimen and Saddam as political agent? Would that not be a necessary distinction for our government to make? If the brain scientists expect us to forego all thought (sic!) of agenthood, the ramifications multiply endlessly.
Conveniently there are on-line repositories for scholarly discussions of the nature of mind. Online papers on consciousness maintained by David Chalmers is the principle one of these. Numerous other relevant web resources have been compiled on the same site.
It is not difficult to get the impression that this topic has been picked over rather thoroughly in the last decade or so, and that after some initial progress the discussion has bogged down. One is hard put to find significant changes in the positions of the participants. If one side or the other were to win the debate at this point it would be the result of sudden professional attrition. There is no neutral party that is keeping score. Each side is adept at spinning the results in its own favor.
What seems to be the case is that the 'mentalists' have all the mental evidence while the materialists have all the material evidence. Each side imagines that its own evidence is conclusive. I do not see a prospect for the breaking of this intellectual logjam, other than by an external influence.
On the Web:
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