In reflecting on the relation between early empiricist conceptions of the mind and more experimentally motivated materialist philosophies of mind in the mid-18th century, I suggest that we take seriously the existence of what I shall call ‘phantom philosophical projects’. A canonical empiricist like Locke goes out of his way to state that their project to investigate and articulate the ‘logic of ideas’ is not a scientific project: “I shall not at present meddle with the Physical consideration of the Mind” (Essay, I.i.2). An equally prominent thinker, Immanuel Kant, seems to make an elementary mistake, given such a clear statement, when he claims that Locke’s project was a “physiology of the understanding,” in the Preface to the A edition of the first Critique). A first question, then, would be: what is this physiology of the understanding, if it was not Locke’s project? Did anyone undertake such a project? If not, what would it have resembled? My second and related case comes out of a remark the Hieronymus Gaub makes in a letter to Charles Bonnet of 1761: criticizing materialist accounts of mind and mind-body relations such as La Mettrie’s, Gaub suggests that what is needed is a thorough study of the “mechanics of the soul”, and that Bonnet could write such a study. What is the mechanics of the soul, especially given that it is presented as a non-materialist project? To what extent does it resemble the purported “physiology of the understanding”? And more generally, what do both of these phantom projects have to do with a process we might describe as a ‘naturalization of the soul’?

The ‘Physiology of the Understanding’ and the ‘Mechanics of the Soul’: Reflections on Some Phantom Philosophical Projects

Wolfe, Charles T.
2016

Abstract

In reflecting on the relation between early empiricist conceptions of the mind and more experimentally motivated materialist philosophies of mind in the mid-18th century, I suggest that we take seriously the existence of what I shall call ‘phantom philosophical projects’. A canonical empiricist like Locke goes out of his way to state that their project to investigate and articulate the ‘logic of ideas’ is not a scientific project: “I shall not at present meddle with the Physical consideration of the Mind” (Essay, I.i.2). An equally prominent thinker, Immanuel Kant, seems to make an elementary mistake, given such a clear statement, when he claims that Locke’s project was a “physiology of the understanding,” in the Preface to the A edition of the first Critique). A first question, then, would be: what is this physiology of the understanding, if it was not Locke’s project? Did anyone undertake such a project? If not, what would it have resembled? My second and related case comes out of a remark the Hieronymus Gaub makes in a letter to Charles Bonnet of 1761: criticizing materialist accounts of mind and mind-body relations such as La Mettrie’s, Gaub suggests that what is needed is a thorough study of the “mechanics of the soul”, and that Bonnet could write such a study. What is the mechanics of the soul, especially given that it is presented as a non-materialist project? To what extent does it resemble the purported “physiology of the understanding”? And more generally, what do both of these phantom projects have to do with a process we might describe as a ‘naturalization of the soul’?
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/10278/3719577
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