Thomas Reid on Consciousness and the Constitution of the Mental

Author/s Sebastiano Gino
Publishing Year 2017 Issue 2017/4 Language English
Pages 12 P. 585-596 File size 45 KB
DOI 10.3280/SF2017-004004
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This paper tackles the issue of consciousness as it features in Thomas Reid’s philosophy of mind. Section 1 shows that consciousness plays a pivotal role within what the Author calls a "faculty psychology", namely, Reid’s project of elaborating an empirical description of different mental operations. Section 2 highlights a conceptual difficulty which arises when some of Reid’s claims are taken together: if consciousness is a mental faculty standing on its own footing, but, at the same time, all mental operations are conscious, then a logical regress looms. Section 3 presents Reid’s account of natural powers, especially those relating to life phenomena. By advocating an animistic doctrine of vital functions, he seems to leave open the possibility that some mental activity is unconscious. Section 4 concludes by stressing that Reid’s problem with the regress reveals a deeper tension - a kind of failed synthesis - between a religious and a naturalistic conception of mind.

Keywords: Reid, consciousness, mind, psychology, animism, naturalism.

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Sebastiano Gino, Thomas Reid on Consciousness and the Constitution of the Mental in "RIVISTA DI STORIA DELLA FILOSOFIA" 4/2017, pp 585-596, DOI: 10.3280/SF2017-004004