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Epistemology & Philosophy of Science

Volume 55, Issue 3, 2018

Karim Zahidi
Pages 91-105

How to Leave Descartes Behind
On the Relevance of Marxism for Post-Cartesian Philosophy of Mind

Both mainstream cognitive science and analytic philosophy of mind remain wedded to the Cartesian picture of the mind as an isolated, self-sufficient, and constitutively individual phenomenon. However, recently approaches to the mind (e.g. extended mind thesis, enactivism) that depart from the standard view have emerged. Aunifying thread that runs through these approaches can be summed up in the slogan: “to understand mental phenomena one cannot do away with the environment”. Differences between these related views pertain to the strength of the modal operator “cannot”. On the strongest reading the slogan implies that the mind is constituted by the environment. While this interpretation is akin to Marx view on the constitution of consciousness, this link is overlooked in the literature. In this paper, I will argue that Marxists philosophical thinking about the mind, as exemplified by the activity approach, offers a sound philosophical basis for the further development of post-Cartesian views in cognitive science and philosophy of mind. Furthermore, I will argue that the materialistic method proposed by these thinkers is the most promising approach to the problem of naturalizing the mind.

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