Chapter

Consciousness, Atomism, and the Ancient Greeks

Colin McGinn

in Consciousness and its Objects

Published in print March 2004 | ISBN: 9780199267606
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191601798 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/019926760X.003.0007
Consciousness, Atomism, and the Ancient Greeks

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Physical atomism, as proposed by Democritus, was a speculative theory, without much empirical support or explanatory success, which much later received serious confirmation. Comparisons are drawn between some ancient Greek responses to puzzling phenomena and modern reductionist responses to the mind-body problem. It is conjectured that atomism with regard to the mental is true in advance of there being any particular evidence for it. According to this theory, conscious states consist of unobserved underlying states, which combine to produce the states that we do observe. If such a theory could be produced, it is argued that it might contribute to a solution to the mind-body problem.

Keywords: atomism; consciousness; Democritus; speculative theories

Chapter.  7537 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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