A History of the Mind

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A History of the Mind
A History of the Mind.jpg
Cover of the first edition
Author Nicholas Humphrey
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Subject Mind–body problem
Published 1992 (Chatto & Windus)
Media type Print (Hardcover and Paperback)
Pages 230
ISBN 978-0387987194

A History of the Mind is a 1992 book about the mind–body problem by Nicholas Humphrey. It has been called one of the most interesting attempts to solve the problem.


Humphrey attempts to solve the mind-body problem, and responds to philosopher Colin McGinn's argument that the problem cannot be solved.[1] Humphrey holds that consciousness is immediate sensory experience and that sensation-arousing stimuli define who we are, how we feel, and what we know.[2]


Author Richard Webster, writing in Why Freud Was Wrong (1995), called A History of the Mind one of the most interesting attempts to solve the mind/body problem. In Webster's view, Humphrey used the theory of natural selection to try to show that the problem of consciousness can be solved not through the philosophy of mind but though evolutionary biology, and thus saw the problem of "mind" as an illusion produced by the failure to understand evolutionary history and neurophysiology. Webster suggested that Humphrey thereby succeeds in eliminating mind-body dualism entirely, although he noted that some details of Humphrey's hypothesis remain highly speculative and open to criticism, and that it was rejected by McGinn.[1] Paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson noted that Humphrey's views on consciousness differ from those of Daniel Dennett in Consciousness Explained (1991).[2]



  1. ^ a b Webster 2005. p. 484.
  2. ^ a b Johanson 1996. p. 107.


  • Johanson, Donald; Edgar, Blake (1996). From Lucy to Language. New York: Simon & Schuster Editions. ISBN 0-684-81023-9. 
  • Webster, Richard (2005). Why Freud Was Wrong: Sin, Science and Psychoanalysis. Oxford: The Orwell Press. ISBN 0-9515922-5-4.