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William James and Mind-Body Neutrality I

One traditional approach to the mind-body problem in philosophy is this: look for some neutral stuff. The interaction of an immaterial consciousness with a material body/brain would seem less mysterious were there some neutral stuff out of which both consciousness and physicality were themselves created.

The term "neutral" here means simply that the theorist at issue isn't trying to dissolve one half of the dichotomy into the other.

There are three broad types of neutralism, one of which is simply called "neutral monism." The other two that one can put into this category have different names and slightly different approaches: panpsychism, and double-aspect theory.

I will say a brief word now about how each of them relates to the philosopher who inspired the existence of this blog: William James. Tomorrow, I'll try to say something about how they are different.

Neutral Monism

William James is a and perhaps even the key figure in the development of neutral m…
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The Velocity of Time

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"On each January 1 the number designating the year just past looks less used up than its predecessor. By the time 1960 had arrived, my 1959 was worn out and its replacement overdue. When 2011 was announced, I was still not used to 2010 and even 2009 and 2008 looked scarcely touched. It is hardly surprising that I sometimes feel — as I imagine you, reader, do when yet another day, another week, another summer, another year has melted away — as if I were being swept, log-like, towards a cataract dropping into oblivion."


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The following observation arose in the course of a critique of philosopher Derek Parfit.  

"Even if the lower-level facts [that make up identity] do not in themselves matter, the higher-level fact may matter. If it does, the lower-level facts will have derived significance. They will matter, not in themselves, but because they constitute the higher level fact."

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Murphy is a professor of law at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Here is a link to the amazon page for her book.

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The constitution established in South Africa in 1993, with the success of negotiations to end apartheid, was specifically called the "Interim Constitution." Two years later the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act, passed by the parliament pursuant to that interim constitution, created a Truth and Reconciliation Commission which was both truth finding and amnesty granting.

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Physics, likewise, has its own philosophical controversies. Indeed, much that goes by the name "philosophy of science" seems actually to be a philosophy of physics.The nature of space and time. Statistical mechanics, etc.

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Other Minds and Autism

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It is a neat (meta-) theory, but it is worth mentioning now and then that it isn't established fact. 
Indeed, the more neurologists get to work trying to home in on this wired-in theory of mind, the more evasive it seems. And (assuming the paradigm) there are theory-of-mind deficits that one would not call autistic. 
OTOH, I'm sure there is something to it.