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An excellent introduction to the philosophy of mind.
on January 31, 2016
Philosophy of Mind, by Edward Feser, is an accessible introduction and intelligible overview of the central issues concerning -- you guessed it -- the philosophy of mind. In addition to an overview of the history of this area of philosophy, Feser argues that dualism as an answer to the so-called mind-body problem is as alive today as it's ever been. If anyone has an interest in the topic, this would be a great place to start. When discussing the philosophy of mind, you can't get too far from some difficult to understand terminology such as Epiphenomenalism or supervenience, but despite the occasional use of these kinds of terms and some difficult abstract concepts to deal with, the material is very readable. Feser provides simple examples and illustrations to keep the material approachable even for a new reader to the subject.
Feser begins by explaining the mind-body problem and providing some arguments for dualism as a means of explaining the problem. He then provides arguments against the position in order to advance through the subject matter. Specifically, each new chapter is another way monists have attempted to respond to the arguments for dualism. Feser explains how and why such attempts succeed or fail along the way, opening up opportunities for discussions of new topics.
As the subtitle suggests, this book is a beginner's guide. The flow of the prose is not interrupted by frequent references to other material and there aren't any footnotes for additional information as you progress. Although this approach makes it easier to read, it also takes some of the academic wind out of its sails. However, at the conclusion of each chapter a thorough list of resources is provided for further research. If a potential reader is interested in the philosophy of mind, I'd recommend picking up the book, finding a chapter covering an area on which you're particularly interested, and then looking up some of the additional resources referenced in these sections. Overall, the book is a fairly light read but some of that may depend upon you're existing understanding of the subject matter.
If you're curious as to how claims of dualism can possibly survive against the extensively materialistic worldviews of the Western world, give this book a whirl. It may not convince you, but it will almost certainly give you something to think about.