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Persons and Bodies: A Constitution View (Cambridge Studies in Philosophy) Paperback – January 13, 2000

ISBN-13: 978-0521597197 ISBN-10: 0521597196 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Series: Cambridge Studies in Philosophy
  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1st edition (January 13, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521597196
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521597197
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,788,341 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Baker (Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst) develops a sustained argument defending view of persons. Her argument links the body to the mind by means of the constitution view..." Choice

"As usual, Ruddr-Baker provides an extremely clear and subtle defense of a provocative position that goes against much mainstream theorising." metapsychology@netscape.net Dec 2001

"I found it a fascinating read, and so will anyone who is interested in the metaphysics of material objects. Those who take seriously the idea that there might really be such thing as constitution, moreover, may well be convinced that Baker has presented the best, most convincing version of 'constitutionalism.'" The Philosophical Review

"...Persons and Bodies is a fine book, carefully argued throughout as well as elegantly and enjoyably written...the book should not be missed." Philosophical Christi

Book Description

What is a human person, and what is the relation between a person and his or her body? In her third book on the philosophy of mind, Lynne Rudder Baker investigates what she terms the person/body problem and offers a detailed account of the relation between human persons and their bodies. Baker's argument is based on the "Constitution View" of persons and bodies, which aims to show what distinguishes persons from all other beings and to show how we can be fully material beings without being identical to our bodies. This book will be of interest to professional philosophers and graduate students, and will also appeal to psychologists and cognitive scientists interested in the philosophy of mind.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 17, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book argues for the view that in the same place at the same time are two things -- the human animal that constitutes me and the person that is me. It's a very odd view given our common sense notions, but metaphysical study shows that no coherent view on these matters will entirely fit with common sense. That view is not entirely interesting, since it is not new, though some of her nuances and differences from earlier proponents of a constitution view are worth noting.
The best thing about this book is that Baker has broken some new ground in her attempt to come up with an analysis of the constitution relation. Since her book was published, some reviews in journals have raised serious problems about her actual proposal on mostly technical grounds, which might suggest to some that her work is useless. That's not so. Hardly anyone has even made attempts in this direction, and the process is worth engaging in. Her work on this problem is groundbreaking, even if her actual positive proposal turns out not to work.
One caveat - some stellar philosophers have complained that some of her arguments (e.g. for the neo-Cartesian sense that personhood involves something of my being conscious of my own consciousness) at times seem to be more rhetoric than philosophical argument. I'm more sympathetic to this line of thought myself, but lots of her arguments have seemed this way to some. When I heard this response to the book, I didn't immediately wonder if I'd read the same book they had. I do seem some of what they're saying, despite my attraction to what she's saying. So that's worth being aware of.
On the whole, there's lots of good exploration here of underexplored metaphysical terrain. For that reason, anyone interested in issues of material constitution and personal identity should look at this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A. Customer on May 24, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Persons and Bodies is an extended defense of the constitution view of human persons. (The view that holds that human persons aren't identical to their bodies, but constituted by them--in the same way that a statue is constituted by a piece of marble.) The book has three parts. In the first part, Baker provides an overview of her view and approach to metaphysics, provides a formulation of the constitution relationship, and gives an analysis of persons as beings with a `first-person perspective.' In the second part, Baker sets forth the constitution view of human persons, the persistence conditions for human persons, and explains the "importance of being a person." In the final section, Baker defends and argues for her view. She defends the coherence of constitution, and the constitution view of human persons, and provides argument for thinking the constitution view of human persons is true.

There are many things to like about Persons and Bodies. First, the book has a clear thesis that each chapter makes a clear contribution to, giving the entire book a sense of unity. But each chapter can also stand by itself, allowing one to focus simply on particular chapters. Second, Baker provides an instructive, indepth analysis of the constitution relationship (chapter 2) and the notion of a first-person perspective (chapter 3). Third, the constitution view of human persons itself is interesting, and Baker does a good job of explaining what she sees to be the benefits of the view (e.g. being a materialist view of human persons, yet having the positive aspects of an immaterialist view). Finally, the writing is not unnecessarily complicated. Although Baker does not shy away from difficult topics or symbolized arguments and definitions, the book is readily accessible.
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I would describe Baker's thesis as scientifically-responsible Cartesian dualism. Of course, many would consider this a contradiction in terms, myself included! However, if you're interested in that line of thinking this is a great place to start. For example, you can trace seminal ideas from Descartes to the existentialists (Sartre in particular) to Baker. From that perspective it's a recent development in a historically significant line of inquiry.
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Persons and Bodies: A Constitution View (Cambridge Studies in Philosophy)
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