Mind and Nature

Anthony O'Hear

in Beyond Evolution

Published in print July 1999 | ISBN: 9780198250043
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598111 | DOI:
 Mind and Nature

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Despite being material beings, humans are unlike most material objects—we are conscious and able to express our thoughts in language. This book examines the possibility of giving a naturalistic explanation of these latter aspects of human activity. The last discourse of Socrates in Plato's Phaedo suggests that it is possible that some of our motivations are non‐Darwinian, i.e. not directly concerned with survival and reproduction and that our nature as conscious agents can make our goals and projects puzzling or inexplicable in physical or biological terms. If we are programmed for survival and reproduction, why, e.g. did Socrates choose that fate that he did? Kant and Wittgenstein represent modern philosophers who also circumscribe the role of naturalistic explanation and leave room for a philosophical account of our behaviour as rational, moral agents concerned with thinking and acting for the best.

Keywords: agency; consciousness; Darwinism; Kant; Phaedo; reproduction; scientific explanation; Socrates; survival; Wittgenstein

Chapter.  6011 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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