Structure and the Metaphysics of Mind: How Hylomorphism Solves the Mind-Body Problem

About the book:

Structure and the Metaphysics of Mind is the first book to show how hylomorphism can be used to solve mind-body problems--persistent problems understanding how thought, feeling, perception, and other mental phenomena fit into the physical world described by our best science. Hylomorphism claims that structure is a basic ontological and explanatory principle. Some individuals, paradigmatically living things, consist of materials that are structured or organized in various ways. Those structures are responsible for individuals being the kinds of things they are, and having the kinds of powers or capacities they have. From a hylomorphic perspective, mind-body problems are byproducts of a worldview that rejects structure. Hylomorphic structure carves out distinctive individuals from the otherwise undifferentiated sea of matter and energy described by our best physics, and it confers on those individuals distinctive powers, including the powers to think, feel, and perceive. A worldview that rejects hylomorphic structure lacks a basic principle which distinguishes the parts of the physical universe that can think, feel, and perceive from those that can't, and without such a principle, the existence of those powers in the physical world can start to look inexplicable and mysterious. But if mental phenomena are structural phenomena, as hylomorphism claims, then they are uncontroversially part of the physical world, for on the hylomorphic view, structure is uncontroversially part of the physical world. Hylomorphism thus provides an elegant way of solving mind-body problems.

About the author:

William Jaworski is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Fordham University. He is the author of Philosophy of Mind: A Comprehensive Introduction (Wiley-Blackwell) and a range of papers dealing with topics in metaphysics, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of religion.


Judge quote:

Outstanding rigorous scholarship, linking an old theme (hylomorphism, going back to Aristotle and Aquinas) to contemporary philosophy of mind issues.  It builds a new creative approach to hylomorphism.  It is a most impressive work in systematic (not historical) metaphysics and philosophy of mind.  It will have significant impact in contemporary philosophy of mind (which is really philosophy of person), and in the philosophical (and ethical) issues raised by neuroscience.