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Matter and Consciousness: A Contemporary Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind Paperback – January 22, 1988

ISBN-13: 978-0262530743 ISBN-10: 0262530740 Edition: Revised

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 196 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; Revised edition (January 22, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262530740
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262530743
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.5 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #585,570 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Anyone interested in using a contemporary approach to philosophy of mind in an introductory course will find Paul Churchland's Matter and Consciousness a useful text.... Churchland has a wonderful talent for linking ideas together.

(Kathleen Gill Teaching Philosophy)

About the Author

Paul M. Churchland is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, San Diego. He is the author of The Engine of Reason, the Seat of the Soul, Matter and Consciousness: A Contemporary Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind (both published by the MIT Press), and other books.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 39 people found the following review helpful By whywong on May 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
It is quite ridiculous that someone should use Paul Churchland's Matter and Consciousness for a graduate class in philosophy of mind. Paul Churchland, for one, never intended it to be so, and certainly was not writing for such an audience. Having said that, Matter and Consciousness qualifies as one of the best brief introductions to pertinent issues in philosophy of mind. Do note, however, that Paul Churchland's focus is philosophical rather than psychological or cognitive. The book begins with a discussion of the mind-body problem and various standard proposed solutions, i.e. various forms of dualism, mind-brain identity theory, functionalism and the like. Each school of thought is presented in an orderly fashion, beginning with a brief outline of the general solution with a couple of examples, then proceeding to sections on the advantages and disadvantages of the school of thought in question.
Now, as with all truly introductory surveys of academic disciplines, the discussions in Matter and Consciousness are superficial from the perspective of more mature students. However, its brevity and clarity make it probably the best introductory text to philosophy of mind around. I read Matter and Consciousness in a single sitting over a cup of tea, and vouch for its accessibility.
Matter and Consciousness also has sections on the psychological, computational and neuroscientific side of things, and although much of the scientific material is dated, these sections still give the uninformed reader a general flavor of ongoing work in those areas, and much to contemplate.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Lee D. Carlson HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on November 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
The mind-body problem, as it is called in Western philosophy, still has the attention of philosophers, despite centuries of debate. It will no doubt occupy more of philosophers time in the upcoming decades due to the resurging interest (and advances) in artificial intelligence. But the goal of most research in A.I. is now geared towards computational algorithms that are able to learn and can discover new knowledge or data patterns. The "hard A.I." problem, that of creating conscious machines, is not top priority it seems.
But philosophers will continue with the analysis of the nature of conscious intelligence, and the author is one of these. Interestingly though, and correctly, he asserts that progress in this analysis has been made, and he notes that philosophy has joined hands with psychology, artificial intelligence, neuroscience, ethology, and evolutionary theory in making this progress. And this will no doubt continue as advances in these fields are made, and the 21st century will see the advent of the "industrial philosopher". Once thought to be a purely academic profession, the ethical considerations behind genetic engineering and the legal rights of thinking machines will require the presence of philosophers in the rank and file of engineers, technicians, and managers. And because of this, these philosophers, and their coworkers will themselves have considerable knowledge outside their own field.
Again, the refreshing feature of this book is that the author believes that philosophy has made considerable process on the nature of mind.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 26, 2007
Format: Paperback
"Matter and Consciousness" is a very accessible introduction to basic issues in the philosophy of mind. Paul Churchland divides the book into several sections, with each one serving to give a broad overview of the relevant issues, the main positions and controversies, as well as the major lines of research inquiry that have been developed in the past few decades as ways of approaching the study of brain/mind.

The first problem that Churchland addresses in the book is the ontological one - that is, what is the real nature of mental phenomena and in what relation do they stand to the physical world? He surveys the different types of dualism, including substance dualism, property dualism (a category which subsumes epiphenomenalism, interactionist property dualism and elemental property dualism). He also gives a flavor for the many different species of materialism such as reductive materialism/identity theory, functionalism (which currently serves as the main philosophical position for those involved in the fields of cognitive science and artificial intelligence) and eliminative materialism. Some really important questions are addressed in this first section, such as the feasibility of reducing mental states to neurobiological states. The history of science offers plenty of examples of successful intertheoretic reductions - for example, the theory of optics being reduced to the theory of electromagnetism. However, different arguments have been made (not just by dualists, but also by materialists) as to why mental states will not be capable of reduction to neurobiological states.
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