Individual Variation in Students’ Mind-body Ontologies, An Explorative Study


This paper reports on work in progress on student conceptions regarding the relation of the mind and matter. Explorative methods of data analysis and visualization were applied to uncover patterns of variation in student conceptions at the upper secondary and university undergraduate level. Our finding is that there is variety in commonsense ontological commitments and conceptualizations regarding the mind and the body going beyond the traditional division between materialistic and dualistic ontologies. We suggest that the variety is partially based on the fact that – at least when viewed from the perspective of a well-defined scientific or philosophical theory – many commonsense intuitions are not conceptually very well organized.

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