I’m very glad to be able to kick off this symposium on Paul M. Churchland’s Matter and Consciousness, recently reissued in a new (third) edition by the MIT Press.
Below the fold is a brief introduction to the symposium, followed by essays from our three contributors, Amy Kind (Claremont McKenna), William Ramsey (UNLV), and Pete Mandik (William Paterson).
Paul Churchland, as most of you know, is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of California, San Diego, and the author of a number of books, including Scientific Realism and the Plasticity of Mind (Cambridge, 1979) and Neurophilosophy at Work (Cambridge, 2007). But Matter and Consciousness, which was first published by MIT in 1984 and then reissued in 1988, is certainly his best-known work, as it continues to set the gold standard for introductory texts in the philosophy of mind despite the decades that have passed since its first publication.
The three contributions to this symposium discuss several different aspects of Churchland’s book. Amy Kind, Professor of Philosophy at Claremont McKenna College, begins by noting the time that has passed since Churchland’s book first appeared, and discusses some of the things that were (and weren’t) changed in revising his chapter on materialism and dualism. Pete Mandik, Professor of Philosophy at William Paterson University, discusses Churchland’s argument for the possibility of introspecting one’s brain states “as such”, suggesting a few possibilities for what this idea might come to. And Bill Ramsey, Associate Professor of Philosophy at UNLV, discusses his own use of Matter and Consciousness in his college classes, then focuses in on some questions concerning Churchland’s account of the “semantic problem”, which is (in Churchland’s hands) the problem of explaining how our mental vocabulary gets its public meaning.
What unites all of them, of course, is a shared conviction of the abiding importance of Churchland’s work, and its value to the philosophical community.
And with that, here are the essays:
- Amy Kind’s discussion of Churchland’s chapter on physicalism and dualism
- Pete Mandik’s discussion of Churchland’s chapter on introspection
- Bill Ramsey’s discussion of Churchland’s chapter on the “semantic problem”
The comments on this post will remain open until mid-September for discussion of issues raised in these essays, as well as other aspects of Churchland’s work that readers would like to bring up.