Broadly speaking, theories in the philosophy of mind are of two sorts: dualist and materialist. Dualist theories, such as the one associated with French philospher René Descartes, claim that there are two fundamentally different kinds of substances in the world: physical substances such as the body and mental substances such as the mind. In contrast, materialist theories claim that there are only physical substances; hence, on a materialist view, mental states are standardly understood to be physical states of the brain.
Patricia Smith Churchland falls squarely in the materialist camp, believing that the mind should be identified with the brain. In fact, she approaches her study in terms of neither the “mind” nor the “brain” but rather in terms of the “mind-brain.” As its subtitle suggests, Neurophilosophy lays the groundwork for a theory of the mind-brain and, according to Churchland, this theory must be informed not only by philosophical work but also by neuroscientific research. Toward this end, Churchland’s primary aim in the book is to bridge the gap between neuroscience and philosophy, acquainting researchers in these fields with one another.