Persons and Their Minds

A Philosophical Investigation


Elmer Sprague

First Edition • July 1, 1999 • 208 pages


Print ISBN: 9780813391281 • $41.00 USD$62.50 CAN

Ebook ISBN: 9780786742820 • $25.99 USD$28.99 CAN

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Persons and Their Minds compares the conflicting claims of mindism and personism and argues for placing persons at the center of philosophy of mind. Mindism stems from Descartes, takes the spectator stance, and makes the mind the subject of mental verbs such as know, think, and believe. Personism stems from Wittgenstein and Ryle, takes the agent stance, and restores persons to their proper place as subjects of mental verbs.

Employing lessons taught by Wittgenstein and Ryle, the book offers a running criticism of mindism as it appears in the work of Descartes, Locke, Davidson, Fodor, Hume, Parfit, Dennett, Searle, McGinn, Flanagan, Chalmers, and Baars, and demonstrates personism’s ability to resist various forms of mindism. Intended for upper-level or graduate students of philosophy, Persons and Their Minds should also interest psychologists, psychotherapists, and other professionals who use philosophy of mind in their work.


Elmer Sprague is professor emeritus at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, where he taught philosophy for 44 years. He has a B.A. from the University of Nebraska, and a B.A. and D.Phil. from Oxford. He was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford (1948–51), and was the Paul Robert and Jean Shuman Hanna Professor of Philosophy at Hamline University (1987). His previous publications include articles on Ryle and Hume, and the book, Metaphysical Thinking.

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