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Hardcover | Out of Print | 368 pp. | 6 x 9 in | June 1998 | ISBN: 9780262032544
Paperback | Out of Print | 368 pp. | 6 x 9 in | August 1999 | ISBN: 9780262531658
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On the Contrary

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.

About the Authors

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.

Patricia S. Churchland is President’s Professor of Philosophy Emerita at the University of California, San Diego, and Adjunct Professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences. She is the author of many books, including Neurophilosophy and Brain-Wise (both published by the MIT Press).


“Paul Feyerabend once wrote, 'the hardest task needs the lightest hand.' The Churchlands have the light hand, and put it to good use in On the Contrary. Ranging over some of the most controversial topics of the past decade, the book illustrates and elaborates their influential perspective on mind, knowledge, and science. It is written in the familiar Churchland style-feisty, but always gracious; fast-moving but without superficiality; ambitious, and yet modest.”
Tim van Gelder, Department of Philosophy, The University of Melbourne, Australia
“These provocative essays by the Churchlands herald the impact that advances in our understanding of the brain are having on science, society, and who we imagine ourselves to be.”
Terrence J. Sejnowski, Professor, Salk Institute for Biological Studies and Investigator, Hughes Medical Institute