Beyond scientism: Re-humanizing the mind

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Beyond scientism: Re-humanizing the mind

Dr. Giuseppina D’Oro 

Quote:Reductionism is no longer fashionable in philosophy of mind—the days when the idea that mental states are reducible to physical states was a given are over, and non-reductionism is the new orthodoxy. Yet, while many philosophers of mind would consider themselves card carrying non-reductionists, they also tend to think of psychology as a natural science of the mind. As a result, the defence of the autonomy of the mental one finds in most textbooks operates within a naturalistic framework which fails to acknowledge that humanistic explanations differ in kind from scientific ones.

There is however a neglected form of non-reductionism that has its roots in the idealist tradition and is genuinely pluralistic from an explanatory point of view. This form of non-reductionism is motivated by a defence of humanistic understanding and is found in the work of late British idealists, Michael Oakeshott and R.G. Collingwood. They espoused a version of idealism according to which the task of philosophy is not to determine the constitution of reality, whether it is material or immaterial, but to expose the presuppositions on which all knowledge, including scientific knowledge, rests.

They argued that the methodological assumptions of scientific inquiry are very different from those of humanistic inquiry and that it is therefore a mistake to think it possible to explain the mind in scientific terms. As a result, unlike most non-reductionists in twentieth century philosophy of mind, they were sceptical of the view that psychology could be legitimately described as the science of the mind and endeavoured to expose the conceptual confusions implicit in the very idea of a natural science of the mind...
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell

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