Mental Causes

  • C. H. Whiteley
Part of the Royal Institute of Philosophy Lectures book series (RIPL)


The question I shall consider is whether there are any mental causes, that is, whether there is anything which is both a state of mind and a cause of other mental or physical happenings. The obvious common-sense answer to this question is Yes. In ordinary discourse (that is, outside philosophy and psychology) we constantly refer to human actions and experiences in what appears to be causal language; we seem to be saying that some states of mind are causes of other states of mind, and of some bodily activities. Sometimes we do this by using the word ‘cause’ itself —‘His driving into the ditch was caused by his seeing a child run into the road’, ‘The cause of his silence was his wish to protect his friend’. More often we use expressions which in physical contexts are admittedly causal —‘A glimpse of the look on her face made him hesitate’, ‘Ambition was the driving force of his career’. Most philosophers have taken for granted the genuineness of these causal attributions. But recently it has been frequently denied that any state of mind can be properly described as the cause either of other states of mind or of physical occurrences, at any rate if by a state of mind one means a state of consciousness


Bodily Movement Causal Explanation Causal Attribution Logical Connection Causal Judgment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Copyright information

© The Royal Institute of Philosophy 1968

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. H. Whiteley

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations