(Scroll down for available handouts and papers)
“Russellian monism without Structuralism and all that Jazz”
“Russell and Behaviorism”
Russell became increasingly interested in experimental psychology from the mid teens on, first in the psychology of perception in relation to his characterization of “hard” sense data. Subsequently, he was drawn to behaviorism and found that it did well in explaining some aspects of habit formation but that the behaviorist attack on introspection needed to be mitigated, a response he shared with the animal learning theorist Edward Thorndike. Although initially, in “On Propositions,” Russell found that Watsonian behaviorism can’t account for desire, because mental images, denied by behaviorists, mediate desire by portraying absent objects of desire, in Analysis he framed a behaviorist account of desire as a kind of behavior tendency that doesn’t require mental images or phenomenal mental states. He nonetheless retained mental images on empirical grounds as purely psychological states. Finally, Russell supported Thorndike’s account of trial and error learning in relation to Watson’s, finding a theoretical need for the apparently mentalistic notion of “satisfaction” over Watson’s radically physicalist behaviorism.
“Introspection: From Jamesean to Russellian Monism”
Bertrand Russell was in Brixton Prison when he first set down on paper his newfound commitment to neutral monism. The Brixton papers (reproduced in CPBR 8 as “Manuscript Notes ”) constitute an initial sketch of themes he would develop more completely in “On Propositions: What They Are and How They Mean” and, especially, in The Analysis of Mind. Two things are immediately evident in these notes. One is the centrality of considerations concerning introspection in Russell’s initial argument for neutral monism; and the other is the influence of William James. James had himself developed a sophisticated account of introspection in his 1890 Principles of Psychology, inspired by an old dispute between Auguste Comte and J. S. Mill. This account would prove central to James’s own neutral monist model of mind when it reached maturity around 1903. Or so I shall argue in the first part of my talk. But how much of James’s detailed theory of introspection—or the distinctive inflections that theory gave to his neutral monism—did Russell take onboard? In the second part of my talk, I examine the role introspection plays in Analysis of Mind with an eye to disentangling some ways in which Russell’s neutral monism during this era converged with James, and some ways in which it strikingly diverged as well.
“Truth-Tracking in Russell’s Analysis of Mind”
The paper explores Russell’s attempt to preserve a correspondence notion of Truth within the naturalist reconstruction set out in in his four-dimensionalist and behaviorist-sympathetic analysis of mind. Ideas from Principia’s Appendix C will be found to be helpful.
“The Analysis of Mind and Russell’s Rebellion against Moore”
Following G. E. Moore, Russell broke with Idealism towards the end of 1898; however, he writes that “the most important event” in “the most important year in my intellectual life” was his attending the Paris conference in August 1900 at which he encountered the mathematician Peano and his students. I argue that the philosophy of mathematics that Russell developed in the wake of the Paris Congress initiated a process whereby he came to reject a number of central features of the Moorean philosophy he had accepted in rejecting Idealism, a process that culminates in The Analysis of Mind, where he rejects the notion of acquaintance that, following Moore, he had regarded as fundamental both to epistemology and the characterization of the mind, and where he develops and account of the mind and an epistemology without that notion of acquaintance. I discuss some of ways that Russell’s post-Peano philosophy of mathematics is opposed to the Moorean philosophy and some of the steps whereby Russell is led from that philosophy of mathematics to rejecting that notion of acquaintance.
“How to Reject the Act-Object Distinction and Be a Russellian Monist”
In The Analysis of Matter and An Outline of Philosophy,Russell rejects the act-object distinction, arguing that perception and consciousness are not relations between us and items outside the head. He puts pressure on both terms in the putative relation, landing on a view on which all we have are internal mental events. This kind of non-relational view of perceptual and other mental states is alive and well today –– and, I think, true. Further, it combines nicely with contemporary versions of Russellian monist panpsychism, yielding a unified picture of consciousness and intentionality.
Hedda Hassel Mørch
“The Fusion View of Mental Combination (and How IIT Can Help)”
The fusion view (defended by Bill Seager and myself) offers a solution to the combination problem for emergent Russellian monism. In this talk, I explain and motivate the fusion view. I also show how it can be combined with Tononi’s Integrated Information Theory (IIT), and consider whether this can help answer some of the objections to the fusion view.
“Mnemic Phenomena: History, Physiology, and Perception in Russell’s Analysis of Mind“
In Lecture IV of Analysis of Mind, Russell argues for a version of the Semon-Hering theory: that organisms inherit prior responses to stimuli. This theory was developed by Richard Semon and Ewald Hering to account for a range of psychological and physiological phenomena. The view was central to the dispute between Hering and Hermann von Helmholtz, in a debate usually conceived as between empiricism (Helmholtz) and nativism (Hering). The true stakes of the debate, though, was about the influence of an organism’s history on its present experience. Helmholtz argued that organisms must learn from their environment starting with a comparatively blank slate, while Semon and Hering argued for inherited instinctual responses coded in an organism’s ancestral history: in other words, for an early version of the law that ‘ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny’. Russell’s account in Analysis of Mind is an interesting mixture of Helmholtzian empiricism and Semon-Hering nativism. This unlikely background informs several perplexing aspects of Russell’s account of perception in Lecture VII. The analysis of perception, imagination, sensation and the like in Lecture VII is clarified by understanding Russell’s position on how physics, physiology, and psychology – and the history of the perceiving subject – play a part in the analysis of perception.
“Propositional Attitudes in Russell’s Analysis of Mind“
In 1913 Russell famously abandoned his Theory of Knowledge manuscript due to Wittgenstein’s objections to Russell’s theory of judgment. In this paper I consider Russell’s account of belief in Analysis of Mind (1921) with these earlier objections in mind. I argue that the main features of Russell’s new account of belief can be motivated by tracing Russell’s reactions to Wittgenstein’s work from 1913 through 1921. In particular, Russell comes to endorse Wittgenstein’s claim that “ ‘A believes that p’ … [is] of the form ‘ “p” says p’: and this does not involve a correlation of a fact with an object, but rather the correlation of facts by means of the correlation of their objects” (Tractatus, 5.542). But, unlike Wittgenstein, Russell used empirical investigations to clarify how such correlations were achieved.
“‘The problem of the relation of mind and matter can be completely solved’”
Russell believed that he had solved the mind–body problem, in so far as it can be solved. This paper argues that he was right. He called himself a ‘neutral monist’, but it is important that he can be equally well seen as a physicalist, i.e. a real physicalist, i.e. a physicalist who is a full-on realist about consciousness. (You can’t seriously claim to be a real physicalist if, like many today who claim to be physicalists, you deny the existence of something that certainly exists: consciousness.) This paper argues aims for this view: that Russell’s (real) physicalism is entirely compatible with his neutral monism. It distinguishes three uses of the term ‘physicalism’ and suggests that an equivocation in Russell’s use of the word ‘physical’ has made his position unclear.
“Experience: Having It and Knowing It”
I look at how Russell handles experience (in the what-its-like sense) prior to The Analysis of Mind, in The Analysis of Mind, and after The Analysis of Mind. Take an experience of red, for example. I will ask three questions about it: (1) Do I learn where in the world the quality of redness is? (2) Do I learn what my experience of red is, what it consists of? (3) Do I learn how I attain immediate knowledge of my experience of red? Prior to the neutral monism of The Analysis of Mind, Russell had an elegant account of experience that answered all of these questions. Things are rather less clear in The Analysis of Mind. Russell himself saw fit to present an new account of experience in the Inquiry. I’ll suggest that (i) the account in The Analysis of Mind may be more promising than it seems; (ii) that the account of the Inquiry is too sketchy to be satisfactory; and (iii) that Russell’s early account—e.g., in The Problems of Philosophy—is perhaps not as explanatorily rich as one might have hoped.
“Mental Chemistry and Russell’s Analysis of Mind”