This article was last modified on November 27, 2006.


Elements of Mind Supplement

In January of 2003, I was taking a philosophy of mind course at the University of Green Bay, under the tutelage of Dr. Gilbert Null. One of the three texts required that semester was Professor Tim Crane’s overview of philosophy of mind, Elements of Mind.

I e-mailed Crane at the time, and asked him if he had any thoughts about how he would revise the book (which was barely two years old) and if there were any other texts in the philosophy of mind realm he would recommend. A response was received on January 29, 2003 and here it is for your consideration. (I have cropped the beginning and end where he addresses me personally.)

Tim Crane’s Thoughts on Elements of Mind

“I suppose, somewhat inevitably, I find myself dissatisfied with many parts of the book now, and wish that I had a chance to rewrite it. In general, I am quite satisfied with my discussions of physicalism in chapter 2, and the discussion of physicalism and consciousness in chapter 3. The chapter on perception (5) I am fairly pleased with, too (although it ends a bit abruptly). The two parts which I think are somewhat inadequate are the discussion of the notion of intentional content in chapter 1 (section 8, I think) and the discussion of the intentionality of bodily sensation in chapter 3. The latter in roughly on the right lines, I think, but it is TOO COMPLICATED, and could be expressed in a simpler way. The former needs more clarification, and is far too condensed and obscure. I am happy with the discussion of externalism in chapter 4.

“I also think what the book needs is a chapter on the emotions, and a chapter on the will. But my thinking on these things is at a very primitive stage and I think I need a few years before I can commit anything to paper.

“As for other readings, I have a high opinion of John Searle’s book, ‘Intentionality’ (Cambridge University Press, 1983) and also of the work of Hubert Dreyfus (‘What Computers Can’t Do’, MIT Press). I think Brentano’s ‘Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint’ is still worth reading, and not as difficult as you might expect. Look at the chapter on the distinction between mental and physical phenomena. Another interesting philosopher who writes on these things is Merleau-Ponty: his ‘Phenomenology of Perception’ is very interesting, though a hard read. The collection edited by Dreyfus, ‘Husserl, Intentionality and Cognitive Science’ has some interesting essays in it.

“There’s so much on this area, it is hard to know where to start! But I would recommend Searle if you haven’t read it yet.”

[Gavin notes: Professor Null’s background is in Husserl and Brentano, whereas I personally find Husserl to be the literary equivalent of sludge. I have not read Brentano.]

Also try another article under Philosophical
or another one of the writings of Gavin.

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