Fundamental mentality in a physical world
Springer Science and Business Media B.V.
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Regardless of whatever else physicalism requires, nearly all philosophers agree that physicalism cannot be true in a world which contains fundamental mentality. I challenge this widely held attitude, and describe a world which is plausibly all-physical, yet which may contain fundamental mentality. This is a world in which priority monism is true—which is the view that the whole of the cosmos is fundamental, with dependence relations directed from the whole to the parts—and which contains only a single mental system, like a brain or computer. Because some properties of the whole are fundamental under priority monism, it follows that that the mental properties of a cosmos-encompassing brain or computer system may be fundamental in a priority monist world. Yet such a world need not contain anything physically unacceptable: the mental properties of the cosmos-encompassing brain or computer can be characterized in a physicalism-friendly functionalist or identity-theoretic way. Thus, as I see it, physicalism need not be false in such a world. This constitutes a challenge to those who hold the view that physicalism is inconsistent with the existence of fundamental mentality.