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Simple Mindedness

Simple Mindedness

In Defense of Naive Naturalism in the Philosophy of Mind

Jennifer Hornsby

ISBN 9780674005631

Publication date: 05/15/2001

How is our conception of what there is affected by our counting ourselves as inhabitants of the natural world? How do our actions fit into a world that is altered through our agency? And how do we accommodate our understanding of one another as fellow subjects of experience--as beings with thoughts and wants and hopes and fears? These questions provide the impetus for the detailed discussions of ontology, human agency, and everyday psychological explanation presented in this book. The answers offer a distinctive view of questions about "the mind's place in nature," and they argue for a particular position in philosophy of mind: naive naturalism.

This position opposes the whole drift of the last thirty or forty years' philosophy of mind in the English-speaking world. Jennifer Hornsby sets naive naturalism against dualism, but without advancing the claims of "materialism," "physicalism," or "naturalism" as these have come to be known. She shows how we can, and why we should, abandon the view that thoughts and actions, to be seen as real, must be subject to scientific explanation.


  • Jennifer Hornsby [has written] a series of careful and insightful papers...over the past twenty years. In Simple Mindedness, she does us the great service of collecting twelve of these papers together in a single volume...Her overall picture of the mind is filled out in a helpful introduction, and in a series of useful postscripts...Hornsby disagrees with both Descartes and materialists...She denies that people are composed of a material and an immaterial substance...[but also] denies that mental properties reduce to physical properties...Materialists who put in the time and effort to [weigh Hornsby's views] will be richly rewarded. There is much an orthodox materialist can learn from the heretical Hornsby.

    —Michael Smith, Times Literary Supplement


  • Jennifer Hornsby is Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London.

Book Details

  • 5-11/16 x 8-15/16 inches
  • Harvard University Press