Preface to the Second Edition
- For you will do me much greater good by putting an end to ignorance of my psyche than if you put an end to an affliction of my body.
… Plato, Hippias Minor
- This is a book to begin with: to begin the philosophy of mind. It tries to make the main ideas of the subject available to readers with little or no previous exposure to philosophy. It is primarily intended for undergraduate students and the inquisitive general reader.
- The first edition appeared in 1993. This is the second edition. What changes have been made?
- The most visible change is that the book is longer. A chapter on epiphenomenalism about consciousness has been added. The discussions of personal identity, materialism, freedom of will, and conscious experience have been substantially revised. The chapter on computer belief and the mind of God has been split into two chapters. Both discussions have been expanded, the first with consideration of functionalism. Paragraphs prompted by philosophic interest in psychopathology1, neuroscience, and cognitive science have found their way into different chapters. Sections of various chapters have been rewritten, either because they contained mistakes or because the quality or clarity of argumentation wanted improvement. In all, about a third of the book is new or different.
- The structure is the same. Each chapter addresses topics which are distinguishable from topics addressed in other chapters. So someone who is interested in whether persons can survive bodily death could read the second chapter without reading the first, whereas someone who is curious about freedom of will could turn immediately to the ninth chapter for a self-enclosed guide to the rudiments of that concept. While the chapters stand alone, however, the book can be read from front to back. When read in order a narrative unfolds (with some redundancies as seem unavoidable). A cautious and, no doubt, incautious train of my own thoughts, indeed, there is.
- The first chapter provides, to begin with, a working definition of philosophy of mind as well as representative discussion of a topic within the subject. This is the question of whether knowledge of conscious experience is essentially subjective or first-personal. The book is then divided into ten main chapters, each of which deals with a specific family of topics central to the subject. Both the choice of topics and their treatment is influenced by current philosophic research and activity. The current influence is perhaps most clearly shown in the organization of the second through sixth chapters, which directly mirrors contemporary concern with the attribution of mind to others: the disembodied2, other human beings, nonhuman animals, computers, and God. This is folIowed by discussions of rational action, materialism about Intentionality and supervenience3, freedom and personhood, and the issues and debates which these topics have inspired. The tenth chapter applies philosophy of mind to ethical debate over animal liberation. It employs theses about animal consciousness to support critical moves in the debate. It also addresses the question of whether conscious experience is a brain process. The eleventh and final chapter locates debate about the causal power of consciousness within the broad confines of contemporary psychopathology4 and neuroscience.
- Several important figures in past and present philosophy of mind are discussed, although this is not an intellectual history text. My own convictions and preferences are present, sometimes visibly in certain remarks, always invisibly in underlying editorial decisions, but this is not a personal philosophy of mind. I try to let positions and arguments speak for themselves. I also try to maintain contact with puzzlement and perplexity about the mind. The mind/body problem, for example, may be made genuinely interesting to novices when bound up with questions of survival of bodily death (as attempted in the second chapter) and of mental illness and suicidal depression (as attempted in the eighth). It is less interesting, perhaps even uninteresting, if people simply walk through the Philosopher's Museum of Mind/Body ‘Isms' (materialism, etc.) without the partner of perplexity.
- A long paragraph about footnotes, endnotes, citations, and reading lists: To offer a visually uncluttered text, there are no footnotes. When a particular reference is part of the narrative progression or development of an idea, I offer citation in the main text. Otherwise references are in endnotes. Endnotes, as the name suggests, are relegated to the backs of chapters, where they help the author to acknowledge sources and the curious reader to track down references and suggested readings. In this book they also function as notes. They add information to the text, which seems useful to a student, who otherwise may wonder why various authors or works are mentioned. Readers eager to read more philosophy of mind may consult ‘A philosophy of mind bookshelf' at the back of the book. By examining citations, endnotes, and the philosophy of mind bookshelf, students should find ample bibliographic orientation for term papers and other academic projects.
- Although the book is written in a non-technical style, I include a glossary.
… George Graham University of Alabama at Birmingham
Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2019
- Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)