Volume 80, 2006
Intelligence and the Philosophy of Mind
The Metaphysics of Intellect(ion)
In the heyday of conceptual analysis philosophical psychology was practised without regard to the ontology of mind as that was associated with disputes between materialism and non-materialism. The rise of functionalism, however, led philosophical psychology in the direction of materialism, though with a residue deriving from phenomenal consciousness. This is now widely viewed as ‘the hard problem’ for physicalism and probably an insuperable one for it, raising the spectre of epiphenomenalism. I argue that in fact sensory consciousness is not the greatest challenge to materialism, for that lies with the conceptual intentionality of abstract thought. I make these points in connection with the views of Aquinas and consider two of his arguments (from ST, Ia, q. 75) for the immateriality of
intellectual acts. While finding one inadequate for reasons internal to the Thomist account of cognition, I defend the second against recent critics.