Human Mind, Mental Images Can’t Be Reduced to Matter Argues City Tech Professor in New Book

September 6, 2012 | New York City College of Technology

Brooklyn, NY — “My book proposes a pluralistic universe, in which the mind and mental images cannot be reduced to matter in the form of the brain,” says Hugh McDonald.

McDonald, a New York City College of Technology (City Tech) associate professor of philosophy, has authored “Speculative Evaluations: Essays on a Pluralistic Universe (Rodopi/Amsterdam 2012).

McDonald’s book responds critically to a current trend in philosophy that identifies the mind with the brain and therefore considers the mind and mental images as material. McDonald presents a view of a pluralistic universe, in which more than one kind of mental event (thoughts, desires, feelings, images etc.) succeed each other in a stream of consciousness.

Imagination is another kind of mental event that is different altogether from matter. “We create art, technology, crafts, etc. that we first imagined. We then transform the world in accordance with our images. Through technological and other types of creativity we transform ‘reality,’ based on our creative ideas,” he explains.

The creations can be copied and additional creations of the same kind made. This reveals the “principle” of the operation of the machine, the artistic technique and other creations. But the principle, although in the world, is not a material object. Rather, similar principles (also called “norms” by McDonald) regulate material objects as “laws of nature.”

“Space and time are principles, since we cannot imagine or experience anything outside of either space or time,” he notes.

McDonald, who has taught full-time at City Tech since 2003 and was named the College’s 2009 Scholar on Campus, has plans to author several more philosophy books. Speculative Evaluations is the fifth book he has authored. He is the editor of another. He is the co-founder the New York Pragmatist Forum, a group devoted to the application of philosophical pragmatism to contemporary issues.

New York City College of Technology (City Tech) of The City University of New York (CUNY) is the largest public college of technology in New York State. Located at 300 Jay Street in Downtown Brooklyn, the College enrolls 16,000 students in 62 baccalaureate, associate and specialized certificate programs. An additional 16,000 students annually enroll in continuing education and workforce development programs.