What is Matter?
BARBARA GAIL MONTERO • Associate Professor of Philosophy, City University of New York
|NOVEMBER 16 @ 6 P.M. | Daniel Family Commons, Usdan University Center, Wesleyan University
What is Matter? The seventeenth century mathematician and philosopher René Descartes had an elegant answer to this question: the essence of matter, or of body, is extension-extension in length, breadth, and depth. And since Descartes also held that the mind is indivisible while everything extended is divisible, the classic mind-body problem was born: How are we to find a place for the mind in a material world. But the material world has undergone quite a few changes since the seventeenth century, or at least our conception of it has, and we no longer have an elegant answer to the question of what is matter, if we have an answer to it at all. In my talk, I shall grapple with some of the difficulties of understanding the concept of matter and ponder the question of what implications “the thinning of matter” might have for our philosophical theorizing about the mind-body problem
As part of the Wesleyan Center for the Humanities Lecture Series, Matters that Matter, I gave a talk on what else but, What is Matter? Slides and video for those who don’t mind some rough edges. As I’d like to smooth things out eventually, comments are very welcome.