Article

Metaphysics of Mind

Darragh Byrne

in Philosophy

ISBN: 9780195396577
Published online May 2010 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195396577-0076
Metaphysics of Mind

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Philosophy of mind addresses fundamental questions about mental or psychological phenomena. The question held by many to be most fundamental of all is a metaphysical one, often labeled the “mind-body problem,” which concerns the relation between minds and material or physical phenomena. Physicalists (and/or materialists) contend that mental phenomena are physical, or at least that they may be accounted for in terms of physical phenomena (brains, for example). Dualists deny this, maintaining that mental phenomena have fundamentally nonphysical natures, so that to account for minds we must assume the existence of nonphysical substances or properties. Nowadays physicalism is more widely espoused than dualism, but physicalists differ over which physical states/properties should be considered relevant, and over the precise nature of the relation between physical and mental phenomena. This is one of four bibliography entries on the philosophy of mind, and this particular entry concentrates on this metaphysical issue of the relation between mental and physical/material phenomena. Inevitably, there is a good deal of overlap between this and topics covered in the other three entries. For example, this entry includes authors who attack physicalism by arguing that it cannot account for the distinctive phenomenal qualities of conscious experiences; but that line of antiphysicalist argument features even more prominently in the entry on consciousness. Moreover, the other entries feature various issues that might perfectly properly be categorized as concerning the metaphysics of mind: for example, the debate between internalists—philosophers who hold that propositional attitudes (mental states such as beliefs and desires, which have representational contents) are intrinsic properties of minds/brains—and externalists, who think of certain attitudes as extrinsic or relational, is surely a question about the metaphysics of mind: but this is discussed in the entry on intentionality instead of here.

Article.  6996 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art ; Epistemology ; Feminist Philosophy ; History of Western Philosophy ; Metaphysics ; Moral Philosophy ; Non-Western Philosophy ; Philosophy of Language ; Philosophy of Law ; Philosophy of Mathematics and Logic ; Philosophy of Mind ; Philosophy of Religion ; Philosophy of Science ; Social and Political Philosophy

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