WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE A BAT?
is what makes the mind-body problem
really intractable. Perhaps that is why current discussions
of the problem give it little attention or get it obviously wrong.
The recent wave of reductionist euphoria has produced several
analyses of mental phenomena and mental concepts designed to
explain the possibility of some variety of materialism, psychophys-
ical identification, or reduction.' But the problems dealt with are
those common to this type of reduction and other types, and what
makes the mind-body problem unique, and unlike the water-H20
problem or the Turing machine-IBM
machine problem or the
lightning-electrical discharge problem or the gene-DNA problem
or the oak tree-hydrocarbon problem, is ignored.
has his favorite
science. It is most unlikely that any of these unrelated examples
of successful reduction will shed light on the relation of mind to
brain. But philosophers share the general human weakness for
of what is incomprehensible
in terms suited for
what is familiar and well understood, though entirely different.
This has led to the acceptance
of implausible accounts of the
largely because they would permit familiar kinds of
reduction. I shall try to explain why the usual examples do not
are J. J. C. Smart,
Philosophy and Scientific Realism (London,
David K. Lewis, "An Argument
for the Identity Theory,"
reprinted with addenda
Materialism & the Mind-Body Problem (Englewood
Cliffs, N. J.,
and Merrill, Art, Mind, &
reprinted in Rosenthal, op. cit., as "The Nature of
Mental States"; D. M. Armstrong, A Materialist Theory of the Mind (London,
D. C. Dennett,
Content and Consciousness (London,
I have ex-
on the Mind,"
"Brain Bisection and the Unity of Consciousness,"
and a review of Dennett,
Journal of Philosophy, LXIX
See also Saul Kripke,
Semantics of Natural Language (Dordrecht,
and M. T. Thornton,
Terms and Materialism,"
The Monist, 56