Aristotle Aquinas And Spinoza

We noted earlier that Aristotle was the first to propose a functionalist model of the mind, an approach that dominates contemporary cognitive science. William Lycan has said of functionalism that "it is the only positive doctrine in all of philosophy that I am prepared (if not licensed) to kill for" (1987, p. 78); who said that philosophers were quiet and unassuming! It is clear, then, that modern functionalism is a topic capable of arousing passionate feelings. These not only arise between its advocates and opponents but also within the functionalist camp, because modern functionalism comes in a variety of flavours: homuncular functionalism, machine functionalism, teleological functionalism, and so on. However, all of these myriad variations can be traced back to the initial ideas of Aristotle, and his work still provides one of the best illustrations of the essence of the functionalist approach.

The ideas that we develop in this book are embedded within a broadly functionalist framework and for this reason we shall spend some time now in a discussion of functionalism's Aristotelian roots, before considering Aristotle's application of functionalism to the emotions.

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