Phantoms and Movements, Or, Are We Really Just Our Brains?

Monica Meijsing



What kind of entity is it that we,-human beings, really are? This question is explicitly ontological. I will not here be concerned with the epistemological question of how we can be sure of what we are.'The classical Cartesian position in philosophy of mind states that we are essentially just our (non-material) minds. Against this position Gareth Evans (1982) has argued that we are just as much spatially extended, corporeal beings as mental beings. In his argument a crucial role is played by proprioception: it is proprioception that establishes us as, in contemporary parlance, embodied beings, embedded in the world. I call this argument the argument from proprioception. I will argue that mainstream philosophy of mind, though avowedly anti-Cartesian, is still standing very much in the Cartesian tradition. It is anti-Cartesian in that it is materialistic, and rejects the notion of a separate mind. But what is left as “the engine of reason, the seat of the soul” (Churchland, 1995) is not the material body, but the material brain. According to eliminativist philosophers Dennett and Churchland, but just as much, though less conspicuously, according to their adversaries McGinn, Nagel and Searle, we are really just disembodied brains.


phantoms; movements; proprioception; brain; body; philosophy of mind;

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