Skip to main content
Humanities LibreTexts

2.4: Necessary Conditions for Having a Mind

  • Page ID
  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \) \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)\(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)\(\newcommand{\AA}{\unicode[.8,0]{x212B}}\)

    Many who argue (or have argued, in the case of historical figures) that animals don’t have minds often claim that there is (or are) necessary condition(s) for having a mind, animals lack that necessary condition, and therefore they are mindless. So, some have claimed that a being has a mind only if, e.g., that being has language, and argued that animals are mindless since they can’t speak. Critics tend to challenge these claims by either arguing that that (some) animals meet this necessary condition or by arguing that it’s false that this condition is a necessary one: a being can have a mind even if it lacks this condition. They also tend to point out that many such principles imply that human infants are mindless, which seems to be false (and perhaps must be false, since such infants do learn language, and that can happen only if they have minds already, before having language).

    These are a few central concepts to keep in mind while reading the interesting and informative readings for this Chapter.

    This page titled 2.4: Necessary Conditions for Having a Mind is shared under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Nathan Nobis (Open Philosophy Press) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.