chapter  3
22 Pages

ESP and the Materialist Theory of Mind

Materialism, it would be fair to say, has been the most flourishing of recent philosophies of mind. A host of philosophers-especially from the antipodes-actively embrace it;l and many others, if not actually committed to it, espouse a view of mind which is at least compatible with a materialist one, and which they expect to be converted into a materialist one in the light of further scientific discoveries. 2 Furthermore-and this is a sure sign of how a theory has flourished-writers in areas outside of philosophical psychology frequently presuppose a materialist account of mind, and take compatibility with such an account as a constraint on adequate analyses of whatever it is that occupies their interest.3 In this paper, I want to look at a question which materialist philosophers rarely mention and even more rarely discuss: the implications for their position of the claims of parapsychology. Cynics would say that materialists dare not discuss such a question. In particular, I shall assess the assumption-the nearuniversal assumption-that if the claims of parapsychology can be made out, materiaIism must be rejected. This assumption, I shall argue, is mistaken.