Jaegwon Kim : biography
Jaegwon Kim (born September 12, 1934) is a Korean American philosopher who works at Brown University. He is best known for his work on mental causation and the mind-body problem. Key themes in his work include: a rejection of Cartesian metaphysics, the limitations of strict psychophysical identity, supervenience, and the individuation of events. Kim's work on these and other contemporary metaphysical and epistemological issues is well represented by the papers collected in Supervenience and Mind: Selected Philosophical Essays (1993).
Kim took two years of college in Seoul, South Korea as a French literature major, before transferring to Dartmouth College in 1955. Soon after, at Dartmouth, he changed to a combined major in French, mathematics, and philosophy and received a B.A. degree. After Dartmouth, he went to Princeton University, where he earned his Ph.D. in philosophy., Fall 2000.
Kim is the William Herbert Perry Faunce Professor of Philosophy at Brown University (since 1987). He has also taught at Swarthmore College, Cornell University, the University of Notre Dame, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. From 1988–1989, he was president of the American Philosophical Association, Central Division. Since 1991, he has been a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. And, along with Ernest Sosa, he is a joint editor of the quarterly philosophical journal Noûs.Kim's profile at Brown: http://www.brown.edu/Departments/Philosophy/faculty/kim.html.
According to Kim, two of his major philosophical influences are Carl Hempel and Roderick Chisholm. Hempel, who sent him a letter encouraging him to go to Princeton, was a "formative influence"., Fall 2000. More specifically, Kim claims that he hopes he learned "a certain style of philosophy, one that emphasizes clarity, responsible argument, and aversion to studied obscurities and feigned profundities." From Chisholm he learned "not to fear metaphysics." This allowed him to go beyond the logical positivist approaches, that he had learned from Hempel, in his investigations in metaphysics and the philosophy of mind.
Kim's philosophical work focuses on the areas of philosophy of mind, metaphysics, action theory, epistemology, and philosophy of science.
Philosophy of mind
Kim has defended various mind-body theories during his career. He began defending a version of the identity theory in the early 1970s, and then moved to a non-reductive version of physicalism, which relied heavily on the supervenience relation.Kim, 1984.
More recently, he has rejected strict physicalism on the grounds that it is an insufficient basis for resolving the mind-body problem. In particular, he has concluded that the hard problem of consciousness--according to which a detailed and comprehensive neurophysical description of the brain would still not account for the fact of consciousness—is insurmountable in the context of a thoroughgoing physicalism. His arguments against physicalism can be found in his two latest monographs: Mind in a Physical World (1998) and Physicalism, or Something Near Enough (2005). Kim claims "that physicalism will not be able to survive intact and in its entirety."Kim, 2005, p. 31. This, according to Kim, is because qualia (the phenomenal or qualitative aspect of mental states) cannot be reduced to physical states or processes. Kim claims that "phenomenal mental properties are not functionally definable and hence functionally irreducible"Kim, 2005, p. 29. and "if functional reduction doesn't work for qualia, nothing will" Thus, there is an aspect of the mind that physicalism cannot capture.
Kim currently defends the thesis that intentional mental states (e.g., beliefs and desires) can be functionally reduced to their neurological realizers, but that the qualitative or phenomenal mental states (e.g., sensations) are irreducibly non-physical and epiphenomenal. He, thus, defends a version of dualism, although Kim argues that it is physicalism near enough. As of March, 2008, Kim still sees physicalism to be the most comprehensive world view that is irreplaceable with any other world view.Kim, Kihyeon, , Joongang Ilbo Newspaper article, March 8, 2008.
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