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Philosophy of Mind: A Guide and Anthology


Author: John Heil

Publisher: Publisher


Publish Date: Publish Date

ISBN-10: 199253838

Pages: Pages

File Type: PDF

Language: English

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Book Preface

A s you hold this volume in your hand, you may be asking yourself whether the n. world really needs another anthology in the philosophy of mind. That will be for you to judge. In my experience, not all anthologies are created equal. This one includes, in addition to an extensive compilation of readings on particular topics, a dozen introductory essays designed expressly to encourage you, the reader, to think more deeply and critically about material you might be encountering for the first time. My hope is that these introductions, combined with the particular choice of readings, will yield a whole that is more than just a mereological sum of its parts.

The creation of a volume like this involves endless difficult choices. Inevitably, philosophers intending to use the book in courses in the philosophy of mind will be disappointed that I have omitted favorite pieces, even favorite topics. My original plan called for twice as many selections and half again as many topics. This would have resulted in a peerless, but gargantuan anthology. In scaling back, I have tried to include readings with broad appeal across the discipline. I have included as well a handful of readings less commonly anthologized. Some of these are variations on familiar themes. In other cases, as for instance in the case of selections in Part XII, readings concern topics that have tended to be forgotten or ignored in anthologies and in university courses on the philosophy of mind. The idea is to loosen the grip of convention. I will consider the book a success if it encourages a few philosophers teaching such courses to look a little more critically at the subject. To that end, introductory essays are designed, not merely to provide background information for readers, but, wherever possible, to nudge discussion of particular topics out of the usual ruts.

Many philosophers will take issue with matters addressed in the introductions. This is exactly the reaction sought. I would like those philosophers using the book in university courses to come clean-ontologically-with their students. With that in mind, I have taken care to avoid esoteric terminology and technical maneuvering of the sort that can make the philosophy of mind seem baffling to nonphilosophers. We philosophers have grown far too dependent on such devices, forgetting that they can obscure as well as illuminate. I believe that the really difficult issues in philosophy can, and should, be discussed in a way that could be appreciated by any intelligent reader.

I am grateful to Davidson College and Monash University for their support of this project. I have been influenced by more people than I could possibly name here. The volume would never have seen the light of day without Harrison Hagan Heil’s clarity of mind, good sense, and unwavering support and the support of Lilian, Gus, and Mark Heil. Ruth Anderson, my editor, has been saintly in her encouragement and patience. My colleague, David Robb, exercised a constant steadying influence on my occasionally unruly thoughts about the nature of mental states and properties. The influence of another David, David Armstrong, in forcing me to see that what seems obvious is not always obvious pervades everything I have written here. My thoughts on ontology in general and, in particular, the ontology of  mind, have been most profoundly influenced by C. B. Martin, the philosopher’s philosopher.

John Heil

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