Paul Churchland:

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(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

The book collects essays on "eliminative materialism", the doctrine, espoused in the 1960s by Richard Rorty and Paul Feyerabend, that mental states do not exist. It is only the vocabulary of our "folk psychology" that refers to beliefs and desires, sensations, emotions, thoughts, etc. We explain people's behavior by using this terminology, which ascribes mental states to people. In reality, only brain processes exist. We should replace the outdated language of folk psychology with the language of neurobiology, just like folk physics was replaced by the more precise language of Newton's Physics. According to Churchland, evidence that folk psychology is unscientific includes: 1.that it has remained the same since the ancient Greeks (but so does arithmetic, doesn't it?); 2. that it does not integrate with the natural sciences (but it has been integrated with computer science by computational functionalism); 3. that it is incomplete, as its vocabulary does not apply well to mental phenomena such as sleep and mental diseases (Newton's Physics was also incomplete, but that does not mean that the terminology of mass and energy should be abolished). Churchland denies any validity to "first person" mental life, to consciousness, the self, emotions, etc. He grounds his objection to the fact that there is nothing in the brain that resembles what folk psychology talks about: there are only patterns of activity ("activation vectors").

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