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Meditation on a Prisoner: Towards Understanding Action and Mind

Pols, Edward

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ISBN 10: 0809306794 / ISBN 13: 9780809306794
Verlag: Southern Illinois University Press, Illinois, 1975
Gebraucht Zustand: Very Good Hardcover
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Hardcover. Price-clipped jacket shows a few superficial scores and several areas of colour loss, with a few grubby marks elsewhere. Large abrasion on rear of jacket, continuing onto spine foot. Edges and leading corners worn, with minor loss on the latter. Nicks on either side of spine head, and on front lower edge. Chip on rear upper edge. Spine ends of jacket and hardcover bumped. Leading corners and lower edges of hardcover slightly worn. Pages within remain clean and sound throughout - all text is clear. TS. Buchnummer des Verkäufers 277906

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Bibliografische Details

Titel: Meditation on a Prisoner: Towards ...

Verlag: Southern Illinois University Press, Illinois

Erscheinungsdatum: 1975

Einband: hardcover

Zustand: Very Good

Zustand des Schutzumschlags: Good

Art des Buches: Used

Über diesen Titel


In this brilliant analysis of mind-body problems Edward Pols adds new dimen­sions to the discussion of basic issues.


The prisoner is Socrates, who, in a se­ries of actions involving moral decisions, finds himself under sentence of death, and who has now decided to undergo the sentence rather than accept the opportuni­ty to escape provided by powerful friends. Pols takes as his point of departure Socrates’ naïve statement of the contrast be­tween a scientific analysis of a moral action and the point of view taken by the agent himself, and his rejection of the adequacy of the scientific analysis.

From the Inside Flap:

When we break up the unity of any human action into a number of physical components or events bound together by the relation of cause and effect under the governance of the laws of nature, the reality and importance of the act escapes us. At least it escapes us, Pols claims, if we accept a common misreading of science and take it for granted that analysis of that kind is the only rational way to understand action. What from the point of view of this book seems to be the unifying power of the agent, a power that expresses itself in and through the multiplicity of physical events ingredient in the act, loses its authority when we are committed to this kind of analysis. We are simply unable to take the act seriously as a genuine power-unit. Consequently, we cannot take seriously the power exercised by the agent's mind and by the principles and values he holds and the truths he sees, since these aspects of the "action" are subject to the same analytic dissolution.

The prisoner of the title is Socrates, who, after a series of actions involving moral decisions, finds himself under sentence of death, and who has now decided to undergo the sentence rather than accept the opportunity to escape that has been provided by powerful friends. Pols takes as his point of departure Socrates' naive statement of the contrast between the view of action in terms of scientific analysis and the view of it taken by the agent himself. Socrates rejects the scientific analysis, and Pols contends that we have not yet managed to come to grips with the point Socrates was making, and that, inadequate as his way of formulating the issue may have been, the point is fundamentally sound. This book is an attempt to give the issue an adequate formulation and solution in contemporary terms. The controlling idea is that of the originative act, although the originative act is understood to be but one example of actlike powers that are to be found at all levels of nature. The idea is developed in terms of a quantum-view of time called act- temporality, and in this setting the author is able to treat the views of causality prevalent in science and common sense as less fundamental than the power expressed in originative acts. By this move a causal analysis of action is deprived of much of the threat it is usually understood to pose to the autonomy of human action. The theme of the prisoner is recurrent throughout the book, and Socrates' own acts are used as examples of originative acts in a discussion that ranges through such matters as the status of the laws of nature, the dispute between reductionist and anti-reductionist science, the use of the computer model in studying the brain,the views on the mind-body problem of leading contemporary neurophysiologists and philosophers, and various other features of the contemporary debate about the adequacy of materialism as a philosophy.

Lessons learned from the consideration of originative acts are eventually applied to the mind-body problem. In fact, the intelligent, conscious, and articulate activity of mind, together with moral activity, which is so dependent upon mind, is understood to be among the highest examples of originative acts available to us. A treatment of the activity of the brain as an important part of the infrastructure of originative action is one of the more illuminating features of the latter part of this volume. But in many ways the key to the cogency of the book is its reexamination of the most crucial feature of any originative act that has an aspect of mentality in it: the capacity of an activity that is in some sense "subjective" to attain an apprehension of the real that is in some sense "objective." it is this theme that warrants the books final return to the nature of the agent out of whose "ontic power" originative acts spring.

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