PHIL: Eliminative Materialism

Eric Watt Forste (
Sat, 30 Aug 1997 13:50:37 -0700

Just a few thoughts on Mark Crosby's post:

Einstein's successful reduction of Newton's theory of gravitation
as a "special case zone" within the predictions of relativity theory
was mentioned as an example. However, I suspect that present-day
psychology is closer to Aristotle's physics than to Newton's.
Newton's physical theories did not reduce much of Aristotle's theory,
because he was building on the work of Galileo and Kepler and
other anti-Aristotelean polemicists. So I don't think this
particular analogy offers much support to the reductive
materialists. But I can see how it would be convincing to
someone who might have studied more present-day psychology than
I have, and who thinks it's about as good as Newton's stuff;
such a person might find this argument for reductive
materialism convincing.

Personally, I'm very interested in looking at some of the psychology
and philosophy of Buddhist scholars, and this stuff is not as
accessible to me (for various reasons) as the work of European
scholars, so I haven't yet done much of it. I do know there was
at least one materialist school of philosophy within early Indian
Buddhism, but I've forgotten the name. The ethical focus of most
Buddhist philosophy distracts from their insights into phenomenology
(which I find more impressive than anything I've seen by the European
school of phenomenology) and psychology, but I'd expect to find
some good stuff there, if you care about theory and not just about
what comes out of the lab.

Eric Watt Forste ++ ++ expectation foils perception -pcd