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Manifest ActivityThomas Reid's Theory of Action$
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Gideon Yaffe

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199268559

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2004

DOI: 10.1093/019926855X.001.0001

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From Power to Mind: An Argument from the Power to Exert

From Power to Mind: An Argument from the Power to Exert

(p.14) 1 From Power to Mind: An Argument from the Power to Exert
Manifest Activity

Gideon Yaffe (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This is the first of two chapters examining Reid's arguments for the claim that only a thing with a mind can be endowed with the power to bring an event about. The argument under discussion here proceeds, roughly, as follows: Anything that has a power also has the power to exert that power. The power to exert is the will, or the power to choose, or bring things about for a particular purpose. But since only a thing with a mind could possibly have a will, it follows that only a thing with a mind could have a power. The chapter looks at this argument in some detail and argues that, among other things, the argument depends on a conception of exertion – of choice or volition – under which exertions are events with respect to which someone is necessarily active, and a view about the limitations of our imaginative powers: we are not capable of imagining mental powers that differ in kind from those we find through introspection to possess.

Keywords:   choice, event, exertion, introspection, mind, power, Reid, volition, will

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