The Nature of Consciousness

Piero Scaruffi

(Copyright © 2013 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions )
Inquire about purchasing the book | Table of Contents | Annotated Bibliography | Class on Nature of Mind

These are excerpts and elaborations from my book "The Nature of Consciousness"


According to materialism, instead, mind and body are made of the same substance, which is matter, as defined by Physics; and the mental can be explained from the physical.

This position was first embraced enthusiastically in the 18th century by the French philosopher Julien Offroy de la Mettrie who envisioned the "Homme Machine", the mind as a machine made of matter, and thought as a material process. Unlike dualism, materialism, in all its variants, admits only one kind of substance, and one class of properties.

Materialism had its golden age following a paper published by the Austrian philosopher Herbert Feigl  ("The Mental and the Physical", 1958). It was his paper that established the "mind-body problem" at the center of 20th century philosophy, after so many decades of neglect.

Dualism and materialism have been the protagonist of the centuries-old mind-body debate.  They both have their pluses and minuses, and neither can overcome its minuses in a plausible way. Dualism's plus is that it does recognize the difference between conscious and non-conscious matter; its minus is that it cannot explain how the mind and the brain connect.  Materialism's main asset is that it does not need to explain that connection, since the mind "is" the brain; its drawback is that it cannot explain how consciousness arises from non-conscious matter.


Back to the beginning of the chapter "Mind and Matter" | Back to the index of all chapters