David Malet Armstrong:
THE MIND-BODY PROBLEM (Westview, 1999)

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The Austrialian philosopher David Malet Armstrong has compiled his lectures into a text book for students of philosophy with an interest in Materialism. The book reviews how anglosaxon philosophy reacted to Descartes' dualism. The review is limited to anglosaxon philosophers, and then to some of them only. Hume in included (a bizarre inclusion in a book on theories of mind), but vastly more interesting Bishop Berkeley is not. None of the modern ones are, except for a passing reference to Chalmers. As an introduction to the strictly philosophical mind-body debate, the book may be useful. But caution should be exercised in taking this an introduction to "theories of mind". Armstrong ignores most modern theories of mind altogether and deals only with the anglosaxon tradition (a rather minor one, until very recently). He ignores his own colleagues in continental Europe (the ones who have ruled over philosophy) and he ignores every other discipline, from neurobiology to physics. The latter fact may explain why he shows so little interest in anything that is not materialist. What it deals with, he deals with competence and clarity. But a student who reads this textbook will be misled into thinking that nothing else happened besides the six anglosaxon philosphers he mentions. Which is like describing the history of classical music as, say, Purcell and Ives, while ignoring Bach, Mozart, Schubert and Beethoven.

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