Mitchell gave two courses of Gifford Lectures, the first examining ‘The Place of Minds in the World’, and the second offering a treatise on their power. The published volume, however, incorporates material from the second course into the first. He begins his enquiry into the place of minds by noting their three places and the tension between them. Minds are in the world around us, and they are in the ‘cavity of the skull. They are also in a third place that is neither of these: the mind’s own place. There are gulfs between thoughts in the head and minds, between phenomena and nature and between knowledge and its objects. Mitchell examines such gulfs, their hold over us and how they might be overcome. The evolution of mental life, he concludes, advances nature to a world of objects and their power. Yet nature does not simply exist in the mind; rather, he ends with the thought that a growing thing is known from what it grows to.
- William Mitchell