Aristotelian materialism

Philosophia 34 (3):253-266 (2006)
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I argue that a modern gloss on Aristotle’s notions of Form and Matter not only allows us to escape a dualism of the psychological and the physical, but also results in a plausible sort of materialism. This is because Aristotle held that the essential nature of any psychological state, including perception and human thought, is to be some physical property. I also show that Hilary Putnam and Martha Nussbaum are mistaken in saying that Aristotle was not a materialist, but a functionalist. His functionalism should instead be given a materialistic interpretation, since he holds that only the appropriate sort of matter can realize the human psyche. Aristotle’s functionalism is therefore best viewed as a “causal functionalism,” in which functional descriptions enable us to find the right sort of material embodiment. By sidestepping dualistic assumptions, Aristotle also avoids having to deal with any further notion of consciousness



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L. S. Carrier
University of Miami

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