Adam Toon is an Associate Professor at the University of Exeter and Deputy Director of Egenis, the Centre for the Study of Life Sciences. He studied at King’s College, Cambridge and the London School of Economics. After his PhD, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Bielefeld and holder of a Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship. He works in philosophy of science and philosophy of mind and is also interested in the sociology of scientific knowledge. He is the author of Mind as Metaphor: A Defence of Mental Fictionalism (Oxford University Press, 2023) and Models as Make-Believe: Imagination, Fiction and Scientific Representation (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012). He is also co-editor (with Tamás Demeter and Ted Parent) of Mental Fictionalism: Philosophical Explorations (Routledge, 2022).
We often talk about the mind as an inner world. Cartesianism takes such talk seriously. Once, our inner world was taken to be a strange, immaterial substance. Today, we are told it will be found in the brain. Over the years, some have tried to do without this inner world, most notably behaviourists. But their efforts have largely been in vain. These lectures will propose a new approach to the mind, known as mental fictionalism. According to this approach, our concept of mind is a metaphorical one: we project the “outer world” of human culture, especially language, onto the “inner world” of the mind. This inner world is a useful fiction: it does not exist—and yet we cannot avoid talking about it. The lectures will introduce this idea and explore its implications for key questions concerning the origins, boundaries, and history of the mind. The lectures are based on Adam Toon’s recent book, Mind as Metaphor: A Defence of Mental Fictionalism (Oxford University Press, 2023).