Donald Davidson
March 6, 2011 7:53 PM   Subscribe

Exactly 94 years ago today the American philosopher Donald Davidson (1917-2003) was born.

His contributions include an argument that the mental, while ultimately physical, cannot be sufficiently reduced to the physical: a view he called anomalous monism.

In addition, Davidson made influential arguments in the field of semantics and opened up new avenues of thinking about familiar philosophical themes and puzzles about the nature of such topics as the analyticity of truth, the relation of language to philosophy, the problem of meaning, and ontology.
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream (7 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
And for added bonus: The Rorty Discussion with Donald Davidson
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 8:16 PM on March 6, 2011 [3 favorites]

Anomalous monism is odd. Anything that depends on a lack of relational laws for related things seems doomed to be superseded.
posted by Wyatt at 9:02 PM on March 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

One of my favorites. Thanks for the nice FPP.
posted by painquale at 11:20 PM on March 6, 2011

I decide to type "fgdksf" - Mental action maps to physical

"fgdksf" appears on the screen, there is no way of knowing if this is the result of a mental action or my accidentally hitting the keyboard while shooing the cat - Physical action does not map to mental

I must be missing something
posted by fallingbadgers at 11:27 PM on March 6, 2011

Mental actions don't map to physical events, they are physical events. Your decision to type that was nothing other than some physical event in your brain (it was identical with some brain event, in other words). That's the monism part.

There's a science of mental events which sets out laws for how they work. Let's call that psychology.

There's also a science of physical events in the brain which sets out how those work. We can call that neuroscience.

But, and this is the "anomalous" part, there can be no set of laws or even rules which set out the relationships between classes of mental events and classes of brain events.
posted by GeckoDundee at 12:12 AM on March 7, 2011

> Mental actions don't map to physical events, they are physical events.

Oh. So he's just a boring physicalist then?
posted by goethean at 5:30 AM on March 7, 2011

He's not a boring physicalist, no.
posted by creasy boy at 6:18 AM on March 7, 2011

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