Russell on mind and matter

A stone at the top of a hill may start rolling, but it shows no pertinacity in trying to get to the bottom. Any ledge or obstacle will stop it, and it will exhibit no signs of discontent if this happens. It is not attracted by the pleasantness of the valley, as the sheep or cow might be, but propelled by the steepness of the hill at the place where it is. In all this we have characteristic differences between the behaviour of animals and the behaviour of matter as studied by physics.

B. Russell, The Analysis of Mind, p. 14.

I think Russell’s point is important to remember when doing consciousness studies: no matter what your view of ultimate or foundational reality is, there is a prima facie difference between brains that act for reasons and the brute mechanics of dumb matter. This either needs to be explained or explained away, but either way it needs to be accounted for.

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