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Matter and Consciousness

Paul M. Churchland

Publication Year: 2013

In <I>Matter and Consciousness</I>, Paul Churchland presents a concise and contemporary overview of the philosophical issues surrounding the mind and explains the main theories and philosophical positions that have been proposed to solve them. Making the case for the relevance of theoretical and experimental results in neuroscience, cognitive science, and artificial intelligence for the philosophy of mind, Churchland reviews current developments in the cognitive sciences and offers a clear and accessible account of the connections to philosophy of mind.For this third edition, the text has been updated and revised throughout. The changes range from references to the iPhone's "Siri" to expanded discussions of the work of such contemporary philosophers as David Chalmers, John Searle, and Thomas Nagel. Churchland describes new research in evolution, genetics, and visual neuroscience, among other areas, arguing that the philosophical significance of these new findings lies in the support they tend to give to the reductive and eliminative versions of materialism. <I>Matter and Consciousness</I>, written by the most distinguished theorist and commentator in the field, offers an authoritative summary and sourcebook for issues in philosophy of mind. It is suitable for use as an introductory undergraduate text.

Published by: The MIT Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

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Preface to the 2013 Edition

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pp. vii-viii

...Since the original edition of this text appeared, the several sciences that bear on the philosophical issues surrounding the mind have continued to make gratifying progress, as was only to be expected. In addition, the philosophical literature has become enriched by a number of arresting thought experiments that try to move the debate forward — but, perhaps...

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Preface to the 1988 Edition

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pp. ix-x

...I have been much gratifi ed by the kind reception given the fi rst edition of this small book, especially where it concerned the sections on neuroscience, cognitive science, and artifi cial intelligence. As it happens, these sections are the focus of most of the changes and additions in the revised edition. The motive for change is the dramatic progress that continues to be made in these disciplines and their expanding...

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Preface to the 1984 Edition

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pp. xi-xii

...Philosophers usually write their books for other philosophers, and express parenthetical hopes that the book will prove useful to students and lay readers as well. Such hopes are usually vain. In hopeful contrast, I have written this book primarily and explicitly for people who are not professionals in philosophy, or in artifi cial intelligence, or in the neurosciences. It is the imagination of the general reader, and...

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1 What Is This Book About?

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pp. 1-10

...The curiosity of Man, and the cunning of his Reason, have revealed much of what Nature held hidden. The structure of spacetime, the constitution of matter, the many forms of energy, the nature of life itself; all of these mysteries have become open books to us. To be sure, deep questions remain unanswered and revolutions await us still, but...

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2 The Ontological Problem (the Mind–Body Problem)

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pp. 11-86

...What is the real nature of mental states and processes? In what medium do they take place, and how are they related to the physical world? Will my consciousness survive the disintegration of my physical body? Or will it disappear forever as my brain ceases to function? Is it possible that a purely physical system such as a computer could be constructed...

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3 The Semantical Problem

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pp. 87-110

...Where do the terms of our common-sense psychological vocabulary get their meanings? This apparently innocent question is important for at least three reasons. First, psychological terms form a crucial test case for theories of meaning in general. Second, the semantical problem is closely bound up with the ontological problem, as we saw...

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4 The Epistemological Problem

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pp. 111-134

...whether something other than oneself — an alien creature, a sophisticated robot, a socially active computer, or even another human — is really a thinking, feeling, conscious being, rather than, for example, an unconscious automaton whose behavior arises from something other than genuine mental states? How can one tell? The second problem...

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5 The Methodological Problem

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pp. 135-156

...It is plain that the familiar conceptual framework of folk psychology gives one a nontrivial understanding of many aspects of human mentality. Equally plain, however, are the many aspects of conscious intelligence it leaves largely in the dark: learning, memory, language use, intelligence...

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6 Artificial Intelligence

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pp. 157-190

...Hopeful stabs in the direction of artifi cial intelligent behavior have a long history. In the second half of Descartes ’ century, the German mathematician and philosopher Gottfried Leibniz built a device that could add and subtract by interconnected rotating cylinders. He also argued for the possibility of a perfectly logical language in which all thinking would...

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7 Neuroscience

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pp. 191-260

...From the molecular bits and pieces in their immediate environment, these complex molecules could catalyze a sequence of bonding reactions that eventually yielded exact copies of themselves. With respect to achieving large populations, the capacity for self-replication is plainly an explosive advantage. Population growth will be limited, however, by the availability of the right bits and pieces in the molecular...

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8 Expanding Our Perspective

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pp. 261-282

...The weight of the evidence, as surveyed in the preceding chapters, indicates that conscious intelligence is a wholly natural phenomenon. According to a broad and growing consensus among philosophers and scientists, conscious intelligence is the activity of suitably organized matter, and the sophisticated organization responsible for...


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pp. 283-288

E-ISBN-13: 9780262316569
E-ISBN-10: 0262316560
Print-ISBN-13: 9780262519588

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: Third Edition