Knowledge and the Body-Mind Problem. Сhapter 5. Interaction and Consciousness


  • Oksana Panafidina



K. Popper, the mind-body problem, three worlds, mind-body interaction, emergent evolution, higher functions of language, full consciousness, the Self


The reader is offered a translation of the fifth chapter of the book "Knowledge and the Body-Mind Problem: In Defence of Interaction", which was published on the basis of the Kenan Lectures that Sir K. Popper delivered at Emory University in the spring of 1969. The lecture "Interaction and Consciousness" can be conventionally divided into three parts: (1) the formulation of the mind-body problem and consideration of existing approaches to its solution; (2) the substantiation of his own "tentative solution" of this problem – the pluralistic conception of the mind-body interaction; (3) the discussion that took place after the lecture. Popper carefully examines the essence and arguments of both monistic (behaviorism/physicalism and solipsism/idealism) and dualistic (parallelism and interactionism) approaches. He considers Cartesian dualism the most plausible approach but significantly expands and deepens it due to three ideas: emergent evolution, the evolution of human language, and three worlds. Popper turns to Darwinism as a methodological program for constructing a new conjectural theory of the human mind and the Self. Darwinism enables him to view the world (as well as consciousness, language, knowledge, etc.) as a dynamic and hierarchical structure. In particular, Popper substantiates the thesis that there are three autonomous worlds: (1) the world of physical states, (2) the world of mental states, or dispositions to behave, and (3) the world of theories and objective problems. According to the theory of emergent evolution, emerging structures always interact with, but do not reduce to, the basic structure of the physical states from which they arise. Similarly, ideas, problems, and theories are generated by the subject’s mental states but form an autonomous world. In addition, according to Popper, there is always a feedback loop between the regulating and regulated systems. In Popper's conception of interactionism, human consciousness is viewed as containing a great many residues of the lower forms of consciousness shared with animals, but what he calls the Self or full consciousness arises when people are thinking, especially when they use language in its higher functions (descriptive and argumentative).


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Popper K. Knowledge and the Body-Mind Problem: In Defence of Interaction, ed. M.A. Notturno. London: Routledge, 1994.



How to Cite

Panafidina О. (2022). Knowledge and the Body-Mind Problem. Сhapter 5. Interaction and Consciousness. Actual Problems of Mind, (23), 145–170.