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Consciousness and its Objects$
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Colin McGinn

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199267606

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2005

DOI: 10.1093/019926760X.001.0001

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Consciousness, Atomism, and the Ancient Greeks

Consciousness, Atomism, and the Ancient Greeks

Chapter:
(p.115) 6 Consciousness, Atomism, and the Ancient Greeks
Source:
Consciousness and its Objects
Author(s):

Colin McGinn (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/019926760X.003.0007

Physical atomism, as proposed by Democritus, was a speculative theory, without much empirical support or explanatory success, which much later received serious confirmation. Comparisons are drawn between some ancient Greek responses to puzzling phenomena and modern reductionist responses to the mind-body problem. It is conjectured that atomism with regard to the mental is true in advance of there being any particular evidence for it. According to this theory, conscious states consist of unobserved underlying states, which combine to produce the states that we do observe. If such a theory could be produced, it is argued that it might contribute to a solution to the mind-body problem.

Keywords:   atomism, consciousness, Democritus, speculative theories

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