Erik C. Banks


Wright State University

Mach and James on Neutral Monism and the Unity of Science

According to Ernst Mach (in the Analysis of Sensations of 1886 and Knowledge and Error in 1905) and William James (in his Essays in Radical Empiricism, published beginning in 1904 with “Does ‘Consciousness’ Exist”) sensations, such as colors or sounds, are to be treated as neither mental nor physical, in the conventional sense, but as neutral phenomena, events as real as any in the natural world. This was why Russell later called the movement “neutral monism,” even before his own conversion to the view in 1918.