From Power to Mind: An Argument from the Power to Exert

Gideon Yaffe

in Manifest Activity

Published in print March 2004 | ISBN: 9780199268559
Published online August 2004 | e-ISBN: 9780191601415 | DOI:
From Power to Mind: An Argument from the Power to Exert

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This is the first of two chapters examining Reid's arguments for the claim that only a thing with a mind can be endowed with the power to bring an event about. The argument under discussion here proceeds, roughly, as follows: Anything that has a power also has the power to exert that power. The power to exert is the will, or the power to choose, or bring things about for a particular purpose. But since only a thing with a mind could possibly have a will, it follows that only a thing with a mind could have a power. The chapter looks at this argument in some detail and argues that, among other things, the argument depends on a conception of exertion – of choice or volition – under which exertions are events with respect to which someone is necessarily active, and a view about the limitations of our imaginative powers: we are not capable of imagining mental powers that differ in kind from those we find through introspection to possess.

Keywords: choice; event; exertion; introspection; mind; power; Reid; volition; will

Chapter.  11732 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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