Paul Churchland is a Canadian philosopher who is Professor Emeritus at the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) as well as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Moscow Center for Consciousness Studies of Moscow State University, Russia. Churchland graduated from the University of British Columbia with a bachelor’s degree in 1964. He received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh in 1964. His advisor was the famous 20th century philosopher Wilfred Sellars.
Paul Churchland, like his wife Patricia Churchland, is an eliminative materialist, believing that concepts about the mind traditionally discussed in philosophy should be eliminated in favor of a better scientific account inspired by ongoing research in neuroscience and cognate fields. For instance, Churchland argues that “beliefs” as we ordinarily understand them are not actually real, and will someday get replaced by a scientific account of the brain. In his popular philosophical book, The Engine of Reason, The Seat of the Soul: A Philosophical Journey into the Brain , Churchland takes on the problem of consciousness, again arguing that consciousness is not “real” in the sense we think, but is rather a product of the purely naturalistic workings of the brain. Interestingly, with the resurgence of work with neural networks (an algorithm typically associated with machine learning in Artificial Intelligence research), Churchland has long argued that neural networks might account for the phenomenon of consciousness.
Churchland’s other notable publications include Matter and Consciousness, A Neurocomputational Perspective: The Nature of Mind and the Structure of Science, and On the Contrary: Critical Essays, 1987-1997, which he co-authored with Patricia Churchland, his wife.
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