neutral monism

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neutral monism
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In the philosophy of mind, neutral monism is the view that the mental and the physical are two ways of organizing or describing the same elements, which are themselves "neutral", that is, neither physical nor mental.Craig, Edward. (1998). Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Routledge. p. 816. {{ISBN|0415-07310-3}} This view denies that the mental and the physical are two fundamentally different things. Rather, neutral monism claims the universe consists of only one kind of stuff, in the form of neutral elements that are in themselves neither mental nor physical.


(File:Dualism-vs-Monism.png|thumb|right|A diagram with neutral monism compared to Cartesian dualism, physicalism and idealism.)Neutral monism about the mind–body relationship is described by C. D. Broad in one of his earlier works, The Mind and Its Place in Nature. Broad's list of possible views about the mind-body problem, which became known simply as "Broad's famous list of 1925" (see chapter XIV of'),Broad, C. D. (1925) The Mind and Its Place in Nature. London: Kegan Paul. states the basis of what this theory had been and was to become. There are few self-proclaimed neutral monists; most of the philosophers who are seen to have this view were classified after their deaths. Some examples of this are Baruch Spinoza, David Hume, Ernst Mach, Richard Avenarius, Kenneth Sayre and Joseph Petzoldt and Jonathan Westphal.Earlier, William James had propounded the notion in his essay "Does Consciousness Exist?" in 1904 (reprinted in Essays in Radical Empiricism in 1912).James, William. (1912). Essays in Radical Empiricism. New York: Longmans, Green, and Co. Whately Carington in his book Matter, Mind, and Meaning (1949) advocated a form of neutral monism. He held that mind and matter both consist of the same kind of components known as "cognita" or sense data.Broad, C. D. (1950). Matter, Mind, and Meaning by W. Whately Carington. Philosophy. Vol. 25, No. 94. pp. 275–277.Grenell, R. G. (1953). Matter, Mind and Meaning by Whately Carington. The Quarterly Review of Biology. Vol. 28, No. 4. pp. 404–405.Oakeshott, Michael; O'Sullivan, Luke. (2007). The Concept of a Philosophical Jurisprudence: Essays and Reviews 1926–51''. Imprint Academic. p. 286. {{ISBN|978-1845401801}} "The doctrine that Mr Carington comes to favour is a form of Neutral Monism: the common constituents of mind and matter are sense-data or cognita. In themselves these cognita are neither mental nor material."According to Stephen Stich and Ted Warfield, neutral monism has not been a popular view in philosophy as it is difficult to develop or understand the nature of the neutral elements.Stich, Stephen; Warfield, Ted. (2003). The Blackwell Guide to Philosophy of Mind. Blackwell Publishing. pp. 20-21. {{ISBN|0-631-21774-6}}

Bertrand Russell

In 1921, Bertrand Russell adopted a similar position to that of William James.Russell, Bertrand. (1921). The Analysis of Mind. London, G. Allen & Unwin; New York, Macmillan. Russell quotes from James's essay "Does 'consciousness' exist?" as follows:Russell summarizes this notion as follows:Russell observes that the same view of "consciousness" is set forth in James's succeeding essay, "A World of Pure Experience" (ib., pp. 39–91).Russell 1921:10. The ibid refers to footnote #5 on Russell 1921:9 with regards to the quotes from James derived from Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods{{'}}s," vol. i, 1904. Reprinted in "Essays in Radical Empiricism" (Longmans, Green & Co., 1912), pp. 1–38.In addition to the role of James, Russell observes the role of two American Realists:Russell goes on to agree with James and in part with the "American realists":

David Chalmers

David ChalmersChalmers 1996: 293-301 "Is Experience Ubiquitous?" which includes subsections What is it like to be a thermostat?, Whither pansychism?, and Constraining the double-aspect principle. considers the consciousness of rocks as well as thermostats, although he eschews the notion that rocks are conscious:In his 2002 "Consciousness and its Place in Nature", Chalmers carefully considers neutral monism and panpsychism, variants of what he calls "Type-F Monism".Chalmers 2002: 264-267 He admits that:

See also

References and notes



  • ENCYCLOPEDIA, Columbia Encyclopedia, Monism,weblink 2008-09-23, 2008, Columbia University Press,
  • Erik C. Banks. (2014). The Realistic Empiricism of Mach, James, and Russell: Neutral Monism Reconceived. Cambridge University Press.
  • Erik C. Banks. (2010). Neutral Monism Reconsidered. Philosophical Psychology 23: 173-187.
  • David Chalmers (1996) The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory, Oxford University Press, New York, {{ISBN|0-19-511789-1}} (Pbk.)
  • David Chalmers ed. (2002) Philosophy of Mind: Classical and Contemporary Readings, Oxford University Press, New York, {{ISBN|0-19-514581-X}} (pbk. : alk. paper).
  • Andrew Gluck (2007) Damasio's Error and Descartes' Truth: An Inquiry into Epistemology, Metaphysics, and Consciousness, University of Scranton Press, Scranton PA, {{ISBN|978-1-58966-127-1}} ((pb)).
  • Bertrand Russell (1921) The Analysis of Mind, republished 2005 by Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, NY, {{ISBN|0-486-44551-8}} (pbk.)

External links

{{analytic philosophy}}{{philosophy of mind}}

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