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Mental Entities

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It seems with respect to mental entities that W.V.O. Quine was a reductionist, eliminativist, anti-mentalist and physicalist. He was a reductionist because he held that mental entities are physical phenomena in disguise. He was an eliminativist because he claimed that the scientific image of the world makes no room for such entities whose functioning is not connected with the use of energy. His philosophy was an anti-mentalist because he argued that mental phenomena are to be studies through behavior. He was a physicalist because in his opinion sciences should strive to present a uniform description of the world in all its aspects by referring to physical facts. If we take a closer look at his writings, however, all these assumptions are borne out only in part. The reductionist postulate is moderated by the opinion that theorems of different sciences are not fully intertranslatable. His eliminativism must cope with the argument that unmitigated physicalism obliterates the difference between human beings and zombies. Anti-mentalism is seriously undermined by the role he assigns to the process of language acquisition motivated by empathy. Physicalism is doubtful insofar as it has not been sufficiently distinguished by him from functionalism.
  • J. Holowka, Uniwersytet Warszawski, Instytut Filozofii, ul. Krakowskie Przedmiescie 3, 00-047 Warszawa, Poland
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