Philosophy of Mind Seminar (Friday - Week 7, HT23)

Philosophy of mind

Bertrand Russell famously abandons the sense-datum theory for a form of neutral monism. But what happens to Russell’s most serious objection to neutral monism concerning our understanding of ‘I’, ‘now’ and ‘this’, what he first calls ‘emphatic particulars’, and then later ‘eogcentric particulars’? In his manuscript notes from 1918, Russell indicates that he takes this, along with giving an account of the nature of belief to be the hardest task for neutral monism. But he doesn’t return to the topic of the indexicals until 1940 in An Inquiry into Meaning & Truth. When he does, the resulting theory looks much like the original sense-datum theory. This presents two puzzles: what is the real form of Russell’s original argument in 1913 against neutral monism? And what assumption about it changes between 1913 and 1940? Addressing these interpretive questions will aid us in putting context certain contemporary debates about consciousness and subjectivity.

Philosophy of Mind Seminar convenors: Mike Martin, Matthew Parrott, Will Davies and Anil Gomes