Tearing the Fabric: A critique of Materialism in Philosophy of Mind




Pandora, Passia

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One of the long-standing questions in the field of philosophy of mind is called the mind-body problem. The problem is this: given that minds and mental properties appear to be vastly different than physical objects and physical properties, how can the mind and body relate to and interact with each other? Most contemporary philosophers of mind accept a materialist perspective with respect to the nature of reality, i.e., there is one reality and it is physical. Therefore, materialism requires that mental phenomena be explained solely by physical reality. In response to the mind-body problem, materialists argue that mental properties reduce necessarily and completely to physical properties. In my analysis, I will offer a brief overview of the contemporary responses to the mind-body problem and discuss the development of some of the most prominent materialist theories. Next, I will present problems with the arguments offered in support of the materialist stance. Finally, I will argue that philosophers have failed to satisfactorily defend the materialist stance, specifically, they have been unable to explain how the mental reduces to the physical. The failure of materialist perspectives to explain mind and consciousness is our invitation to take a fresh look at the alternatives.



materialism, physicalism, mind-body problem, philosophy of mind, Ned Block, John Searle, Thomas Nagel, David Chalmers, Frank Jackson and Kurt Gödel, the Chinese Nation, the Chinese Room, the hard problem, the knowledge argument, what is it like to be a bat, weak eliminativism