Elements of Mind - An Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind
Crane (Tim)
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Authors Citing this Book: Crane (Tim)


Back Cover Blurb

  1. What are mental phenomena? What do all mental things have in common? In answering questions such as these, this book introduces and explores the main problems and current debates in contemporary philosophy of mind.
  2. The central theme is that intentionality, or the mind's direction upon its objects - sometimes described as the mind's power to represent or be 'about' things - is the essential feature of all mental phenomena. Tim Crane opposes those currently popular conceptions of the mind which divide mental phenomena into two very different kinds - the intentional and the qualitative - proposing instead a unified theory of all the phenomena of mind. He gives a lucid account of the central debates about the mind-body problem, the problem of consciousness, the problem of perception, and the problem of intentionality itself.
  3. This book provides a fresh and engaging introduction to the philosophy of mind for all students of the subject.
  4. Tim Crane (then was) Reader in Philosophy at University College London, and Director of the Philosophy Programme at the School of Advanced Study, University of London.

Preface (Full Text, truncated)
  1. In this book I attempt to give an account of what I see to be the main problems of the philosophy of mind: the mind-body problem, the problem of intentionality (or mental representation), the problem of consciousness, and the problem of perception. I also attempt to give solutions to these problems. I do not, of course, pretend that these solutions are without problems of their own but it seems to me that a book with an opinionated approach to philosophical problems tends to be more interesting than a bland survey. Nor do I pretend, when talking about 'the' main problems of philosophy of mind, that these are the only problems, or that there is only one 'mind-body problem' or "problem of consciousness'. On the contrary, in my discussion of these problems I will often distinguish a number of things falling under these names, although some of them I do not discuss in any detail. Nonetheless, it seems to me that the traditional names for the problems provide, so to speak, the coordinates of a useful map of this field of study, and it is thus that I intend to use them.
  2. The central theme of the book is that intentionality, the mind's direction upon its objects, sometimes called the mind's power to represent or be "about' things, is the essential feature of all mental phenomena. This is Brentano's thesis, named in honour of Franz Brentano, the German philosopher and founder of the phenomenological movement. Although I take the name and the inspiration for the thesis from Brentano, the book is not in any sense a book about Brentano or the movement he founded, nor does it defend the thesis in the sense in which he meant it. I explain what I mean by intentionality in Chapter 1, and I give accounts of the intentionality of consciousness, thought, and perception in Chapters 3, 4, and 5. Chapter 2 takes up a subsidiary theme: the mind-body problem, and the extent to which a physicalist reductive account of mental phenomena is possible, or even necessary. One conclusion of Chapter 2 is that much of what is interesting about the mind is left open when the question of physicalism is settled. At its simplest, the point can be put like this:
    • Suppose physicalism is true, and mental properties are identical to physical properties. We still need to know which physical properties these are, what are the general characteristics of these properties, how we know about them, and so on.
    • Alternatively, suppose the sort of 'emergentism' I favour is true: mental properties are causally efficacious 'emergent' properties of human beings and other creatures. We still need to know which emergent properties these are, what are the general characteristics of these properties, and how we know about them.
  3. In general, my attitude to physicalism as an overall metaphysical thesis is a sceptical one; and I have a similar attitude towards physicalist explanations of consciousness and intentionality. I do not say that there is anything in principle wrong with the idea of a reductive explanation of mental phenomena; indeed, in Chapter 2, I argue that we should welcome such reduction when we can find it. But the accounts of consciousness and intentionality that have been offered in recent years have failed to command general agreement, and features of the accounts suggest that attention may be better spent looking elsewhere. What we need, I believe, is an understanding of the issues which is neutral on the question of reduction, in the sense that it explores the questions about these aspects of the mind without assuming that a reduction will or will not succeed. This assumes that such an understanding can be achieved, that there is more to the philosophy of mind than sketching reductive projects. I believe this, and I also think that some traditional questions in the philosophy of mind have been neglected through an over-concentration on the question of reduction. Here I have some sympathy with Hilary Putnam's complaint that 'the idea that science leaves no room for an independent philosophical enterprise has reached the point at which leading practitioners sometimes suggest that all that is left for philosophy is to try to anticipate what the presumed scientific solutions to all metaphysical problems will eventually look like' (Renewing Philosophy, p. x). The kind of project described here by Putnam is not one discussed in much detail in this book. I do discuss aspects of the reductive projects in my earlier introductory book, The Mechanical Mind. (The present book also corrects inadequacies in the description of intentionality given in that book.) Another thing missing from this book is anything by way of detailed discussion of many of the different varieties of physicalist and functionalist theories of mind. I recognize that there is much more to say about these matters than I say here; readers new to the philosophy of mind who are interested in functionalism and the varieties of physicalism may wish to consult "Kim (Jaegwon) - Philosophy of Mind", or "Braddon-Mitchell (David) & Jackson (Frank) - Philosophy of Mind and Cognition", each of which gives an excellent account of these matters.
  4. The idea for this book goes back to 1993, when Frank Jackson invited me to write "Crane (Tim) - Intentionality", the entry on intentionality for the new Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (under the general editorship of Edward Craig). While writing this piece, I became persuaded that many contemporary discussions of intentionality were incomplete or misguided in certain ways, and that Brentano's thesis was the way to repair the damage. Though he may not agree with what emerged, I am very grateful to Frank for setting me on this track.


Oxford University Press, 2001

"Crane (Tim) - Mind"

Source: Crane - Elements of Mind - An Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind, 2001, Chapter 1
Write-up Note1

  1. Philosophy Of Mind And The Study Of Mental Phenomena – 1
  2. Perspectives And Points Of View – 4
  3. Perspectives And Their Objects – 6
  4. The Origin Of The Concepts Of Intentionality And Intension – 8
  5. Directedness And Intentional Objects – 13
  6. Aspectual Shape And Intentional Content – 18
  7. The Problem Of Intentionality – 22
  8. The Structure Of Intentionality – 28

Section Summaries
  1. Note2 – Philosophy of mind and the study of mental phenomena: We have a scientific view of ourselves and a non-scientific view; philosophy has preoccupied itself with the question of if (and how) these views are compatible; but there is a prior question: what is the content of the non-scientific view we have of ourselves?
  2. Note3 – Perspectives and points of view: The idea that having a mind is having a perspective on things, or on the world, introduced; the distinction between those creatures with a perspective and those without is vague, but it matches the vagueness in the concept of a mind.
  3. Note4 – Perspectives and their objects: Two features of a perspective introduced: objects are presented within perspectives, and perspectives are partial, they let in some things and leave out others. These correspond to the two defining features of intentionality: 'directedness' and 'aspectual shape'.
  4. Note5 – The origin of the concepts of intentionality and intension: The origin of the term 'intentionality' explained; intentionality as a mental feature should be distinguished from the logical feature, intensionality; the connection and difference between these ideas explained.
  5. Note6 – Directedness and intentional objects: All intentional phenomena have two essential features: directedness upon an object and aspectual shape; the idea of an intentional object introduced; intentional objects are not a kind of thing; an intentional object is what is thought about.
  6. Note7 – Aspectual shape and intentional content: Aspectual shape is the way in which something is apprehended in an intentional state or act; connections and differences are described between the idea of aspectual shape and Frege's idea of sense; for a state to have intentional content is for it to have an intentional object and a certain aspectual shape.
  7. Note8 – The problem of intentionality: Various things are called the problem of intentionality: the problem discussed here is the problem of how intentional states can concern things that do not exist; the best solution is to deny that intentional states are relations to genuinely existing objects; internalism and externalism introduced.
  8. Note9 – The structure of intentionality: All intentional states have intentional objects (something they are about) but they are not relations to these objects; rather, intentional states are relations to intentional contents; intentional contents need not be propositional; intentional modes introduced; the relational structure of an intentional state is subject—mode—content.

COMMENT: For a précis and analysis of the whole Book, see this Note10.

"Crane (Tim) - Body"

Source: Crane - Elements of Mind - An Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind, 2001, Chapter 2
Write-up Note1

  1. Interaction Between Mind and Body – 34
  2. Substance, Property, Event – 35
  3. The ‘Intelligibility’ Of Mental Causation2 – 40
  4. Physics And Physicalism – 43
  5. The Problem Of Mental Causation3 For Dualists – 48
  6. The Identity Theory – 51
  7. Reductionism4 – 54
  8. Against The Identity Theory : Anti-Reductionism5 – 55
  9. The Problem Of Mental Causation6 For Non-Reductive7 Physicalism – 59
  10. Emergence – 62
  11. Physicalism As The Source Of The Mind-Body Problem – 66
  12. What Does A Solution Of The Mind-Body Problem Tell Us About The Mind? – 68

Section Summaries
  1. Note8 – Interaction between mind and body: Descartes's view that he is not lodged in his body like a pilot in a ship endorsed; the mind and the body do interact causally; this is taken as a starting point for debate, not something which is in need of defence.
  2. Note9 – Substance, property, event: Some basic metaphysical categories introduced; substance distinguished from attribute or property; a state is a thing having a property at a time; states are distinguished from events on the grounds that events are particulars with temporal parts; mental phenomena comprise both mental states and mental events (or 'acts').
  3. Note10 – The 'intelligibility' of mental causation11: Mental-physical causation12 may be considered problematic because of something about causation13 or something about the mental, or something about the physical; the first two of these dismissed; the problem of mental causation14 is a result of 'physicalist' assumptions about the physical world.
  4. Note15 – Physics and physicalism: Physicalism distinguished from monism in general and from materialism; physicalism gives a special role to physics; the 'generality of physics' distinguished from the 'completeness of physics' and the 'explanatory adequacy of physics'.
  5. Note16 – The problem of mental causation17 for dualists: The problem arises from the apparent conflict between mental causation18 and the completeness of physics; overdetermination of mental and physical causes ruled out.
  6. Note19 – The identity theory: The identity theory solves the problem of mental causation20 by identifying mental and physical causes; which version of the identity theory is accepted depends on what the relata of causation21 are (events or properties).
  7. Note22Reductionism23: The identity theory is an ontologically reductionist theory; ontological reduction distinguished from explanatory reduction, a relation between theories; the two types of reduction are independent.
  8. Note24 – Against the identity theory; anti-reductionism25: The identity theory is implausible because of Putnam's variable or multiple realization argument; ontological reduction should therefore be rejected.
  9. Note26 – The problem of mental causation27 for non-reductive28 physicalism: If ontological reduction is denied, then the problem of mental causation29 returns for non-reductive physicalism; the non-reductive physicalist response is to hold that the mental is necessarily determined by the physical; the difficulties with this view discussed.
  10. Note30 – Emergence: An alternative non-physicalist position introduced: mental properties are 'emergent' properties with their own causal powers; this position denies the completeness of physics.
  11. Note31 – Physicalism as the source of the mind-body problem: Some see physicalism as the source of the mind-body problem, not its solution; the problem here is how to explain the place of consciousness in the physical world; the contemporary mind-body problem as a dilemma: if the mind is not physical, then how can it have physical effects? But if the mind is physical, how can we understand consciousness?
  12. Note32 – What does a solution to the mind-body problem tell us about the mind?: Whether the identity theory, non-reductive physicalism, or emergentism are true does not tell us much of interest about the nature of mental properties themselves.

COMMENT: For a précis and analysis of the whole Book, see this Note33.

"Crane (Tim) - Consciousness"

Source: Crane - Elements of Mind - An Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind, 2001, Chapter 3
Write-up Note1

  1. The Conscious And The Unconscious – 70
  2. The Distinction Between The Intentional And The Qualitative – 74
  3. Qualia – 76
  4. The Intentionality Of Bodily Sensation – 78
  5. Strong Intentionalism And Weak Intentionalism – 83
  6. Physicalism, Consciousness And Qualia – 88
  7. The Explanatory Gap – 91
  8. The Knowledge Argument Examined – 93
  9. Zombies – 99
  10. The Prospects For Explaining Consciousness – 101

Section Summaries
  1. Note2 – The conscious and the unconscious: Different senses of 'conscious' and 'unconscious' distinguished; Block's distinction between phenomenal and access consciousness discussed; our concern is with phenomenal consciousness; a state is phenomenally conscious when there is something it is like to be in that state.
  2. Note3 – The distinction between the intentional and the qualitative: Mental phenomena are often divided into intentional and qualitative phenomena; this distinction is not very clear; many intentional states are phenomenally conscious; qualitative states are a variety of phenomenally conscious states, those having a sensory character.
  3. Note4 – Qualia: The term 'qualia' defined: qualia are non-intentional conscious mental properties; it is a substantial thesis that qualitative character is explicable in terms of qualia.
  4. Note5 – The intentionality of bodily sensation: Bodily sensation examined as the apparently best case for a non-intentionalist view of the mind; a proper conception of bodily sensation shows it to be intentional in the sense of §8; bodily sensations are ways of being aware of one's body.
  5. Note6 – Strong intentionallsm and weak intentionallsm: Intentionalists believe that all mental states or acts are intentional; weak intentionalists hold that some intentional states or acts also have qualia which account for their phenomenal character; strong intentionalists deny this; strong intentionalism defended.
  6. Note7 – Physicalism, consciousness, and qualia: The problems of consciousness for physicalism revisited; these problems do not depend on the existence of qualia; three arguments distinguished: the explanatory gap, the knowledge argument, and the zombie argument.
  7. Note8 – The explanatory gap: The explanatory gap argument claims that consciousness remains beyond the explanatory reach of physicalism; this argument is shown to rest either on excessively strong understandings of physicalism and explanation, or on the zombie hypothesis.
  8. Note9 – The knowledge argument examined: The knowledge argument is a sound argument against the view that all facts are physical facts; but physicalism should not define itself in that way.
  9. Note10 – Zombies: The zombie argument is effective against the forms of physicalism discussed in §§14 and 17; if it is accepted, it provides a further motivation for emergence.
  10. Note11 – The prospects for explaining consciousness: The prospects for a reductive account of consciousness summarized.

COMMENT: For a précis and analysis of the whole Book, see this Note12.

"Crane (Tim) - Thought"

Source: Crane - Elements of Mind - An Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind, 2001, Chapter 4
Write-up Note1

  1. Thoughts And Beliefs – 102
  2. Consciousness And Belief – 105
  3. Propositional Attitudes – 108
  4. The Propositional Attitude Thesis – 112
  5. De Re And De Dicto Attitudes – 114
  6. Internalism And Externalism – 117
  7. The Argument For Externalism – 121
  8. Demonstrative Thought – 126
  9. The Prospects For Explaining Thought – 128

Section Summaries
  1. Note2 – Thoughts and beliefs: The term 'thought' will be used for a kind of mental state or act, not for the content of such states or acts.
  2. Note3 – Consciousness and belief: Belief, properly so-called, is never conscious; belief is a mental state, not a mental act; what philosophers call 'conscious belief is really the event of becoming conscious of what one believes.
  3. Note4 – Propositional attitudes: Russell's term 'propositional attitude' picks out those intentional states whose intentional content is evaluable as true or false; the nature of propositional content discussed; Fregean and neo-Russellian accounts compared.
  4. Note5 – The propositional attitude thesis: The thesis that all intentional states are propositional attitudes introduced and rejected; the thesis is unmotivated and it has obvious counter-examples.
  5. Note6 – De re and de dicto attitudes: Thoughts and attitudes can be described in a 'de re' or relational style as well as in the more usual 'de dicto' style; the fact that there are such de re ascriptions does not imply that there is a category of de re thoughts or attitudes; the nature of intentional states can be separated from the conditions for their ascription.
  6. Note7 – Internalism and externalism: Externalists about intentionality believe that some intentional states or acts constitutively depend on the existence of their objects, while the strongest form of internalism denies this; it is argued that internalist intentionality is coherent, and that there is no prima facie intuitive case in favour of externalism.
  7. Note8 – The argument for externalism: Externalists employ the influential 'Twin Earth' argument in favour of their position; internalists may challenge this argument in two ways; the most plausible way is to deny the externalist's claim that content determines reference; no positive argument for internalism is provided, though.
  8. Note9 – Demonstrative thought: Demonstrative thoughts ('that F is G') have been claimed to be another source of externalist arguments; much of what externalists claim about demonstrative thought can be accepted by internalists.
  9. Note10 – The prospects for explaining thought: The prospects for a reductive account of thought or intentionality briefly considered.

COMMENT: For a précis and analysis of the whole Book, see this Note11.

"Crane (Tim) - Perception"

Source: Crane - Elements of Mind - An Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind, 2001, Chapter 5
Write-up Note1

  1. The Problem Of Perception – 130
  2. The Argument From Illusion – 132
  3. Perception As A Form Of Intentionality – 137
  4. The Phenomenal Character Of Perceptual Experience – 140
  5. Inverted Spectrum, Inverted Earth – 145
  6. Perception As Non-Conceptual – 150

Section Summaries
  1. Note2 – The problem of perception: The phenomenological problem of perception distinguished from the epistemological and psychological problems; the phenomenological problem is a result of the conflict between the immediacy of perception and the 'Phenomenal Principle', once one allows the possibility of perfect hallucination.
  2. Note3 – The argument from Illusion: The argument outlined, and its most plausible version defended; the argument is shown to rest on the 'Phenomenal Principle'.
  3. Note4 – Perception as a form of intentionality: The way to solve the problem of perception is to give a correct account of the intentionality of perception; the 'Phenomenal Principle' rejected; the nature of perceptual contents and modes examined.
  4. Note5 – The phenomenal character of perceptual experience: It is sometimes said that an intentionalist view of perception cannot account for the phenomenal character of perception; two kinds of evidence for this claim considered: introspective evidence and inverted spectrum/earth thought-experiments6; introspective evidence shown to be inconclusive, once we understand intentionality in the proper way.
  5. Note7 – Inverted spectrum, Inverted Earth: The inverted spectrum possibility (if it is one) presents no knock-down argument against intentionalism; Inverted Earth only presents a problem for a purely externalist version of intentionalism; if narrow perceptual content is coherent, then the inverted earth argument is unsuccessful.
  6. Note8 – Perception as non-conceptual: A further aspect of the phenomenal character of perception introduced: its distinctness from belief and judgement; this is expressed by saying that perceptions have non-conceptual contents; this idea is clarified, motivated, and defended against its critics.

COMMENT: For a précis and analysis of the whole Book, see this Note9.

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