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Paul M. Churchland

Paul M. Churchland is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, San Diego. He is the author of The Engine of Reason, The Seat of the Soul; Matter and Consciousness: A Contemporary Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind (both published by the MIT Press); and other books.

Titles by This Author

In Matter and Consciousness, Paul Churchland presents a concise and contemporary overview of the philosophical issues surrounding the mind and explains the main theories and philosophical positions that have been proposed to solve them. Making the case for the relevance of theoretical and experimental results in neuroscience, cognitive science, and artificial intelligence for the philosophy of mind, Churchland reviews current developments in the cognitive sciences and offers a clear and accessible account of the connections to philosophy of mind.

For this third edition, the text has been updated and revised throughout. The changes range from references to the iPhone's "Siri" to expanded discussions of the work of such contemporary philosophers as David Chalmers, John Searle, and Thomas Nagel. Churchland describes new research in evolution, genetics, and visual neuroscience, among other areas, arguing that the philosophical significance of these new findings lies in the support they tend to give to the reductive and eliminative versions of materialism.

Matter and Consciousness, written by the most distinguished theorist and commentator in the field, offers an authoritative summary and sourcebook for issues in philosophy of mind. It is suitable for use as an introductory undergraduate text.

How the Physical Brain Captures a Landscape of Abstract Universals

In Plato's Camera, eminent philosopher Paul Churchland offers a novel account of how the brain constructs a representation—or "takes a picture"—of the universe’s timeless categorical and dynamical structure. This construction process, which begins at birth, yields the enduring background conceptual framework with which we will interpret our sensory experience for the rest of our lives. But, as even Plato knew, to make singular perceptual judgments requires that we possess an antecedent framework of abstract categories to which any perceived particular can be relevantly assimilated. How that background framework is assembled in the first place is the motivating mystery, and the primary target, of Churchland's book.

Unexpectedly, this neurobiologically grounded account of human cognition also provides a systematic story of how such low-level epistemological activities are integrated within an enveloping framework of linguistic structures and regulatory mechanisms at the social level. As Churchland illustrates, this integration of cognitive mechanisms at several levels has launched the human race on an epistemological adventure denied to all other terrestrial creatures.

Critical Essays, 1987-1997

Paul M. and Patricia S. Churchland are towering figures in the fields of philosophy, neuroscience, and consciousness. This collection was prepared in the belief that the most useful and revealing of anyone's writings are often those shorter essays penned in conflict with or criticism of one's professional colleagues. The essays present the Churchlands' critical responses to a variety of philosophical positions advanced by some two dozen philosophical theorists. The book is divided into three parts: part I, Folk Psychology and Eliminative Materialism; part II, Meaning, Qualia, and Emotion: The Several Dimensions of Consciousness; and part III, the Philosophy of Science. V. S. Ramachandran and Rick Grush are coauthors on two of the essays.

The Nature of Mind and the Structure of Science

If we are to solve the central problems in the philosophy of science, Paul Churchland argues, we must draw heavily on the resources of the emerging sciences of the mind-brain. A Neurocomputationial Perspective illustrates the fertility of the concepts and data drawn from the study of the brain and of artificial networks that model the brain. These concepts bring unexpected coherence to scattered issues in the philosophy of science, new solutions to old philosophical problems, and new possibilities for the enterprise of science itself.

A Contemporary Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind

In Matter and Consciousness, Paul Churchland clearly presents the advantages and disadvantages of such difficult issues in philosophy of mind as behaviorism, reductive materialism, functionalism, and eliminative materialism. This new edition incorporates the striking developments that have taken place in neuroscience, cognitive science, and artificial intelligence and notes their expanding relevance to philosophical issues.

Churchland organizes and clarifies the new theoretical and experimental results of the natural sciences for a wider philosophical audience, observing that this research bears directly on questions concerning the basic elements of cognitive activity and their implementation in real physical systems. (How is it, he asks, that living creatures perform some cognitive tasks so swiftly and easily, where computers do them only badly or not at all?) Most significant for philosophy, Churchland asserts, is the support these results tend to give to the reductive and the eliminative versions of materialism.

A Bradford Book.

A BIT of Matter and Consciousness, third edition

This selection from a recently updated edition of a classic work by Paul Churchland considers such questions as the nature of mental states and processes, in what medium they take place, how they are related to the physical world, whether consciousness survives the disintegration of the physical body, and if a purely physical system such as a computer could enjoy real conscious experience. It proceeds by investigating which of the available theories of mind proves to be the most reasonable theory on the evidence and has the greatest explanatory power, predictive power, coherence, and simplicity.