This page contains a list of the best books on the philosophy of mind. Just to be clear, there is no single best book on the philosophy of mind. The best book for you will depend on your preferred learning style and the amount of time that you want to spend reading about the philosophy of mind. An 800-page scholarly overview is unlikely to be best for someone looking for a short beginner-friendly introduction, for example. This list aims to take this ambiguity into account by featuring books that will appeal to a variety of learning styles.
Secondly, this is not a list of personal recommendations. It was created by compiling recommendations from a variety of online sources including bibliographies, course syllabi, and community recommendations. You can find out more about this process here. Links to the sources used to create this list are at the end of the post. Following these links will help you quickly find a wider range of options if the listed books do not fit what you are looking for.
Here are the best books on the philosophy of mind in no particular order.
Mind: A Brief Introduction – John R. Searle
Publisher description: The philosophy of mind is unique among contemporary philosophical subjects,” writes John Searle, “in that all of the most famous and influential theories are false.” One of the world’s most eminent thinkers, Searle dismantles these theories as he presents a vividly written, comprehensive introduction to the mind. He begins with a look at the twelve problems of philosophy of mind–which he calls “Descartes and Other Disasters”–problems which he returns to throughout the volume, as he illuminates such topics as materialism, consciousness, the mind-body problem, intentionality, mental causation, free will, and the self. The book offers a refreshingly direct and engaging introduction to one of the most intriguing areas of philosophy.
Philosophy of Mind – Jaegwon Kim
Publisher description: The philosophy of mind has long been part of the core philosophy curriculum, and this book is the classic, comprehensive survey of the subject. Designed as an introduction to the field for upper-level undergraduates and graduate students, Philosophy of Mind focuses on the mind?body problem and related issues, some touching on the status of psychology and cognitive science.The third edition has been thoroughly updated throughout to reflect developments of the past decade, and it is the only text of its kind that provides a serious and respectful treatment of substance dualism. This edition also includes two new chapters on the nature of consciousness and the status of consciousness. Throughout the text, author Jaegwon Kim allows readers to come to their own terms with the central problems of the mind. At the same time, Kim’s emerging views are on display and serve to move the discussion forward. Comprehensive, clear, and fair, Philosophy of Mind is a model of philosophical exposition and a significant contribution to the field.
Philosophy of Mind: Classical and Contemporary Readings – David J. Chalmers
Publisher description: What is the mind? Is consciousness a process in the brain? How do our minds represent the world?
Philosophy of Mind: Classical and Contemporary Readings is a grand tour of writings on these and other perplexing questions about the nature of the mind. The most comprehensive collection of its kind, the book includes sixty-three selections that range from the classical contributions of Descartes to the leading edge of contemporary debates. Extensive sections cover foundational issues, the nature of consciousness, and the nature of mental content. Three of the selections are published here for the first time, while many other articles have been revised especially for this volume. Each section opens with an introduction by the editor. Philosophy of Mind is suitable for students at all levels and also for general readers.
The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Mind – McLaughlin, Beckermann, & Walter
Publisher description:The study of the mind has always been one of the main preoccupations of philosophers, and has been a booming area of research in recent decades, with remarkable advances in psychology and neuroscience. Oxford University Press now presents the most authoritative and comprehensive guide ever published to the philosophy of mind.
An outstanding international team of contributors offer 45 specially written critical surveys of a wide range of topics relating to the mind. The first two sections cover the place of the mind in the natural world: its ontological status, how it fits into the causal fabric of the universe, and the nature of consciousness. The third section focuses on the much-debated subjects of content and intentionality. The fourth section examines a variety of mental capacities, including memory, imagination, and emotion. The fifth section looks at epistemic issues, in particular regarding knowledge of one’s own and other minds. The volume concludes with a section on self, personhood, and agency.
The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Mind will be an invaluable resource for advanced students and scholars of philosophy, and also for researchers in neighbouring disciplines seeking a high-level survey of the state of the art in this flourishing field.
Meditations on First Philosophy – René Descartes
Descartes’s Meditations on First Philosophy, the fundamental and originating work of the modern era in Western philosophy, is presented here in Donald Cress’s completely revised edition of his well-established translation, bringing this version even closer to Descartes’s original, while maintaining its clear and accessible style.
The following sources were used to build this list:
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For more introductory philosophy resources and reading lists check out this collection of Resources and Reading Lists.