New book by professor Juhani Yli-Vakkuri
Juhani Yli-Vakkuri, Professor of Philosophy of Language at the University of Tartu, and John Hawthorne, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southern California and formerly Waynflete Professor of Metaphysical Philosophy at Oxford, have co-authored a book titled “Narrow Content” that has just been published by Oxford University Press. The publisher describes the book as a “compelling defence of an externalist view of the mind”.
Jeffrey Speaks (University of Notre Dame), a leading philosopher of mind, writes:
“[Narrow Content] is one of the most convincing philosophy books I have read in a long time. It takes a widely held constellation of views, lays them out with admirable clarity, and patiently reduces them to rubble.”
In another indication of the book’s game-changing potential, celebrity philosopher David Chalmers (University Professor and Director of the Center for Mind, Brain and Consciousness at New York University) has agreed to write a review of it for Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. Narrow Content will be the first book ever reviewed by Chalmers.
A short description of the book by Oxford University Press:
“It is natural to distinguish, for any thinking creature, those events and states that are internal to the creature — its brain states, for example — from those that are not. Narrow mental content, if there is such a thing, is content that is entirely determined by the goings-on inside the head of the thinker. A central question in the philosophy of mind since the mid-1970s has been whether there is a kind of mental content that is narrow in this sense. One important line of thought — by ‘externalists’ — has been that so-called intentional states, such as wishing that they sky were blue and believing that the sky is blue, are, perhaps surprisingly, not internal: there could be twins who are exactly alike on the inside but differ with respect to such intentional states. In the face of this wave of externalism, many philosophers have argued that there must be some good sense in which our intentional states are internal after all, and that such narrow content can play various key explanatory roles relating, inter alia, to epistemology and the explanation of action. This book argues that this is a forlorn hope, and defends a thoroughgoing externalism. The entanglement of our minds with the external world runs so deep that no internal component of mentality can easily be cordoned off.”
Yli-Vakkuri and Hawthorne are now working on a second co-authored book, with the working title “Vagueness and Ignorance”.