Recommend to your Librarian

Matters of the Mind

William Lyons

Paperback i (Printed to Order)
Hardback i (Printed to Order)

In Matters of the Mind, the distinguished philosopher William Lyons presents a popular and authoritative account of the dramatically different ways in which philosophers have thought about the mind over the last hundred years. He sets out the great debate about the nature of mind, focusing on the mind-body 'problem' and exploring the effect of the major turning points in recent western philosophy as well as the influence of the leading figures. In providing this account, the narrative draws also upon work in psychology, neurophysiology and computing.

Show more


List of figures
1. The Twilight of the 'Two Worlds' View
2. Observing the Human Animal
3. Nothing but the Brain
4. Computers to the Rescue
5. The Bogey of Consciousness
6. The Pit and the Pendulum

About the Author

William Lyons is Professor of Moral Philosophy and Fellow of Trinity College Dublin. He is also a Member of the Royal Irish Academy. He is the author of Approaches to Intentionality as well as Emotion, The Disappearance of Introspection and Gilbert Ryle: An Introduction to his Philosophy. He is also the editor of Modern Philosophy of Mind.


After scene-setting about the Cartesian dualist inheritance, it provides a very full account of the rich and varied tapestry of thinking in Philosophy of Mind from the late nineteenth century to the present, in a form which is highly readable and accessible to the intelligent but uninformed reader, livened with many illustrations, a great deal of biographical information and a chronology. All the main contributions to that tapestry are touched on at one point or other in the narrative, with appropriate substantial excursions into Psychology and Neurophysiology ... To me it seems to achieve its objective admirably ... The organisation into five chapters of exposition and discussion and a sixth of reflections is effective in marshalling the large body of material covered. The style is easy, and draws one naturally on. The book certainly deserves to succeed as a substantial popularising work which achieves accessibility without falsifying or doctoring. I believe Matters of the Mind could be used as a text book for an introductory course in Philosophy of Mind, to give students a basic background in preparation for blooding them in serious grappling at close quarters with some particular positions and arguments. It could also serve excellently to introduce psychology students to what the Philosophy of Mind is all about.
- Philosophical Books
This book ought to figure on the reading lists of courses introducing philosophy of mind. Students easily become lost in the technicalities of philosophical theorizing about the mind. By reading this book they will be enabled to see something of the wider picture into which the theories fit, and to understand how theories that might initially seem implausible came to be taken seriously.
- Philosophical Quarterly
A fascinating tale, told with authority and pace by William Lyons and copiously illustrated with diagrams and pictures.
- Times Literary Supplement
This is an excellent introductory philosophy of mind text. Lyons writes with great clarity and precision, making this book highly suitable for the philosophical beginner. It is extremely accessible, jargon-free, and covers a great deal of material. For a small book, the depth of exposition is exceptional.
- Australasian Journal of Philosophy
This is a highly attractive book which is also wholly authoritative.
- Dr Geoffrey Madell, Dept of Philosophy, University of Edinburgh