The Mechanical Mind
A Philosophical Introduction to Minds, Machines and Mental Representation
How can the human mind represent the external world? What is thought, and can it be studied scientifically? Should we think of the mind as a kind of machine? Is the mind a computer? Can a computer think? Tim Crane sets out to answer these questions and more in a lively and straightforward way, presuming no prior knowledge of philosophy or related disciplines.
Since its first publication, The Mechanical Mind has introduced thousands of people to some of the most important ideas in contemporary philosophy of mind. Crane explains the fundamental ideas that cut across philosophy of mind, artificial intelligence and cognitive science: what the mind–body problem is; what a computer is and how it works; what thoughts are and how computers and minds might have them. He examines different theories of the mind from dualist to eliminativist, and questions whether there can be thought without language and whether the mind is subject to the same causal laws as natural phenomena. The result is a fascinating exploration of the theories and arguments surrounding the notions of thought and representation.
This third edition has been fully revised and updated, and includes a wholly new chapter on externalism about mental content and the extended and embodied mind. There is a stronger emphasis on the environmental and bodily context in which thought occurs. Many chapters have been reorganised to make the reader’s passage through the book easier. The book now contains a much more detailed guide to further reading, and the chronology and the glossary of technical terms have also been updated.
The Mechanical Mind is accessible to anyone interested in the mechanisms of our minds, and essential reading for those studying philosophy of mind, philosophy of psychology, or cognitive psychology.
Table of Contents
Preface to the third edition 1. Introducing the mechanical mind 2. The puzzle of representation 3. Mental representation 4. Understanding thinkers and their thoughts 5. Common-sense psychology and science 6. Computation and representation 7. Can a computer think? 8. Mechanisms of thought 9. Explaining mental representation 10. The mechanical mind and its biological basis 11. The extent of the mind 12. A non-reductive approach 13. Consciousness and the mechanical mind. Index
Tim Crane is Knightbridge Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of Peterhouse, Cambridge. He is the author of The Objects of Thought, Aspects of Psychologism, Elements of Mind, the editor of The Contents of Experience, General Editor of the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and the Philosophy Consultant Editor of the Times Literary Supplement.
"Is mind a natural machine or mechanism of some kind? The interested reader could do no better than consult this masterful work. Now in its third edition, The Mechanical Mind remains, without a doubt, the best reader-friendly introduction to core philosophical issues concerning the nature of mind and mental representation, and the role of computation and representation in the sciences of mind. It is the perfect book for all those intrigued by mind and its place in nature." - Andy Clark, University of Edinburgh, UK
Praise for previous editions:
"Terrifically useful ... It gives the best simple introduction that I know to the computational theory of the mind." - John Searle, University of California at Berkeley, USA
"Crane deploys his knowledge of the field with a deft touch. ... The writing style is refreshingly vernacular and relaxed, but not to the extent of avoiding technical discussions where these are required for understanding." - Jonathan Knowles, Minds and Machines
"Wonderful and intellectually extremely accessible ... It is the best treatment of the intentionality of the mental that I have yet come across." - David Armstrong, Pysche
"Terrific: both good philosophy and a very useful text ... Wonderful!" - Ned Block, New York University, USA