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Joseph Levine (philosopher)

Joseph Levine
Born (1952-01-17) 17 January 1952
Era Contemporary philosophy
Region Western philosophy
School Analytic
Main interests
Philosophy of mind
Philosophy of Language
Notable ideas
Explanatory gap

Joseph Levine (born January 17, 1952) is an American philosopher at the University of Massachusetts Amherst who received his PhD from Harvard University in 1981.

He works on philosophy of mind and is best known for inventing the Explanatory gap argument [1] (cited over 1000 times on Google Scholar) and author of popular and academic philosophy books.[2][3][4] The idea is that an unbridgeable gap exists when trying to comprehend Consciousness from the perspective of natural science as a scientific explanation of mental states would require a reduction from a physical process to phenomenal experience. The property of mental states to be experienced from a subjective point of view (see Qualia) might not be reducible from the objective, i.e. outside perspective of science. In this sense there would be a gap between the outside perspective of science and the internal perspective of phenomenal experience.

Joseph Levine is, however, not advocating a dualist perspective but remains a materialist.


  1. ^ Joseph Levine (1983), Materialism and Qualia: The Explanatory Gap, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 64(4), October 1983, pp. 354–361
  2. ^ Joseph Levine (2001), Purple Haze. The Puzzle of Consciousness. Oxford University Press, 2001
  3. ^ Joseph Levine (2006), In Kenneth Williford & Uriah Kriegel (eds.), Self-Representational Approaches to Consciousness. The Mit Press. 173--198 (2006)
  4. ^ Joseph Levine (1993), On Leaving Out What It's Like. In: G. Humphreys und M. Davies (Eds.): Consciousness. Psychological and Philosophical Essays. Basil Blackwell, Oxford 1993, pp. 121–136. Reprint in: N.J. Block, O. Flanagan, and G. Güzeledere (Eds.): The Nature of Consciousness. Philosophical Debates. MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts 1997.


  • Homepage of Joseph Levine, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, with bibliography
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