Neutral monism

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Neutral monism, in philosophy, is the metaphysical 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. 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. These neutral elements might have the properties of color and shape, just as we experience those properties. But these shaped and colored elements do not exist in a mind (considered as a substantial entity, whether dualistically or physicalistically); they exist on their own.

Contents

History

Some of the first views of the mind-body relationship in philosophy can be attributed to C.D. Broad who in one of his early works known simply as Broad's famous list of 1925 stated the basis of what this theory was to become, no less than nine of seventeen of his mind-body relationship theories are now classified as falling under the category of Neutral monism. There are considerably 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 (1632-77), David Hume (1711-1776), Ernst Mach (1838-1916), Richard Avenarius (1843-96) and Joseph Petzoldt (1862-1929)

William James

James propounded the notion in his essay "Does Consciousness Exist?" in 1904 (reprinted in Essays in Radical Empiricism in 1912).[1]

Bertrand Russell

Bertrand Russell 1921 later adopted a similar position to that of William James.[2] 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)".[5] 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 Chalmers[8] considers the consciousness of rocks as well as thermostats, although he eschews the notion that rocks are conscious: "I do not think it is strictly accurate to say that rocks (for example) have experiences . . . although rocks may have experiences associated with them. ... Personally, I am much more confident of naturalistic dualism than I am of panpsychism. The latter issue seems to be very much open. But I hope to have said enough to show that we ought to take the possibility of some sort of panpsychism seriously: there are seem to be no knockdown arguments against the view, and there are various positive reasons why one might embrace it." (Chalmers 1996:299)

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