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Episteme

Abstract

In this article, the author criticizes the materialist theory of mind but salvages the causal insights put forth by neurophysiology’s linkage of the mind and the brain. P. M. S. Hacker’s exegesis of Wittgenstein argues that materialist philosophers and neuroscientists make grammatical contradictions when accounting for the mental. To begin to pinpoint the error of physicalism, the author provides examples that elaborate on Norman Malcolm’s two distinct senses of the term “consciousness.” Materialism’s (and neurophysiology’s) causal nature accounts for intransitive consciousness, but neither are especially promising when it comes to transitive consciousness. In the background, there is a major problem: it is persons, not brains (which are just parts of persons), which are said to instantiate the psychological predicates that correspond to the various types of intransitive consciousness. Even still, the “brain story,” if viewed as a part of the greater “person story,” can lead us to a better theory of personhood.

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