Digging in the brain terrain

Mind's Landscape

June 1, 2001

First appearances are against this book: it is at least 100 pages longer than one hopes for an introductory textbook and its title is a slightly clumsy metaphor that likens the mind to terrain that presents a surface appearance below which one can dig. This is not a very exciting way of presenting and organising a book and much of the writing lacks excitement too.

The first part "The mental landscape", aims to describe the surface, our everyday conception of the mind. It does so in a leisurely way, and the wit and radical rethinking with which this kind of work is done best, the prime example being that of J. L. Austin, is notably absent.

"Digging deeper", the second part, introduces a number of topics in a preliminary way: content, experience, action, "folk" psychological explanation, personal identity, marks of the mental. In the third part, "Bedrock", the standard responses to the mind-body problem are presented. In both these parts, various orthodox positions are set out and certain standard objections to them are raised in a balanced and measured way. But the chapter notes are often inadequate and the reader is not always directed to the source of the view or objection being presented, which is essential. In short, the book is a reliable up-to-date introductory survey of contemporary discussion in the field, but it shows little original insight or excitement.

Michael Morris is reader in philosophy, University of Sussex.

Mind's Landscape: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind. First Edition

Author - Samuel Guttenplan
ISBN - 0 631 20217 X and 20218 8
Publisher - Blackwell
Price - £55.00 and £16.99
Pages - 358

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