The Heart of Matter

Bridging the Kantian Gap in How We Know Things

by Peter J. Mullan (Author)
©2023 Monographs 424 Pages


Few fields in philosophy are so seemingly distant from ordinary human experience as theories of knowledge. How much information do we draw in from bodies outside of us? And to what degree do our perceptual and mental processes subjectify that information to the point of becoming non-objective? The Heart of Matter: Bridging the Kantian Gap in How We Know Things presents both a back history of current theories of perception and a plausible theory to span the gap between subject and object.
This book begins with Sir Karl Popper’s theory of falsifiability, as a twentieth-century version of Kantian subjectivism. Before considering eighteenth-century transcendental philosophy, a look at both the empirical and rational theories that inspired Kant helps place his Critique of Pure Reason in context. This book highlights the developments in Kant’s thought, as he struggled to solve important problems within his Copernican revolution. How far does Kant’s theory coincide with our actual perceptual experience?
Twentieth-century experimentation in perception sheds important light on human knowing. The Heart of Matter follows Cornelio Fabro’s study of those psychological findings and especially his ability to incorporate those findings into a coherent description and explanation. Many current theories of knowledge dismiss any possibility of our objectively knowing bodies outside of us; this book takes a candid look at both the major dilemmas implied in such a dismissal, as well as our actual perception of things. On this account, a fruitful exchange does appear to take place between the mind and reality in perception.
"This book is a clear and brilliant contribution to the philosophy of knowledge. Through a detailed study of Cornelio Fabro’s theory of knowledge, involving modern advances in psychology of perception, the author convincingly bridges the problem of the gap between senses and thought. The key-point in this volume is the importance given to sensations integrated in perception and penetrated by the intellectual grasp of the world around us. I recommend this book both to scholars and students. They will enjoy the elegant and fresh style which makes its reading very pleasant."
—Juan Jose Sanguineti, Professor emeritus, Faculty of Philosophy, Holy Cross University (Rome)

Table Of Contents

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I wish to thank several important guides along the journey of writing this book. First and foremost, I thank my family: my father, Dermott, for his insatiable desire to know and understand, together with his prodigious scientific mind; my mother, Susan, for teaching me to write (and to laugh); and a long list of siblings each of whom has taught me cartloads of books, helping me since day one to grow and flourish.

I thank Prof. Alain Contat for his encouragement: from suggesting I study a doctorate, to co-directing my thesis, and advice in adapting it for publication. His deep insights and his dedication in revising this work have been an incredible support for me; I am humbled by the personal interest from such a brilliant professor.

I thank Prof. Christian Ferraro for his generous time while in Rome to explain Fabro’s thought to me. Prof. Leopoldo Prieto was the main instigator in publishing this book. I also thank Dr. Enrique Martinez and Martin Echavarria at the Abat Oliba CEU University for their support. The Anahuac University in Mexico City helped cover the costs for permissions to reproduce some of the texts; I am indebted to the research area on campus in this regard.

Although the publisher may come last, any author knows that without their support, our book would be stuck on some webpage. I thank Peter Lang ←ix | x→Publishing, and especially Philip Dunshea, for all the patience guiding me through the editing process; it is amazing how many questions someone with a doctorate can have, yet Phil fielded each one admirably.

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Permission Acknowledgements

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Allison, Henry E. “Things in Themselves, Noumena, and the Transcendental Object” in Dialectica, 32 (1978), 58; 63; 68. Reprinted with permission granted by John Wily & Sons Inc. through Copyright Clearance Center.

Anderson, Robert Fendel. “Hume’s Account of Knowledge of External Objects” in Journal of the History of Philosophy, 13:4 (1975), 477, 478. © 1975 Journal of the History of Philosophy, Inc. Reprinted with permission of Johns Hopkins University Press.

Anderson, Robert Fendel. “Locke on the Knowledge of Material Things” in Journal of the History of Philosophy, 3:2 (1965), 205–6; 208. © 1965 Journal of the History of Philosophy, Inc. Reprinted with permission of Johns Hopkins University Press.

Aquinas, Thomas. Aristotle’s De Anima in the Version of William of Moerbeke and the Commentary of St. Thomas Aquinas. Foster, K.- Humphries, S. (translation), Yale University Press, New Haven 1965. As published at The Collected Works of ←xi | xii→St. Thomas Aquinas. Electronic Edition, published by Intelex Corporation, http://pm.nlx.com, 1989-2020. Reprinted with permission of InteLex Corporation.

Aquinas, Thomas. Summa Theologiae. Fathers of the English Dominican Province (translation). As published at The Collected Works of St. Thomas Aquinas. Electronic Edition, published by Intelex Corporation, http://pm.nlx.com, 1989-2020. Reprinted with permission of InteLex Corporation.

De Haan, Daniel D. “Perception and the Vis Cogitativa: A Thomistic Analysis of Aspectual, Actional, and Affectional Percepts” in American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, 88: 3 (2014), 408; 411; 415; 428. https://doi.org/10.5840/acpq20147323. Reprinted with permission of the Philosophy Documentation Center.

De Muralt, André. “Kant, le dernier occamien. Une nouvelle définition de la philosophie moderne” in Revue de métaphysique et de morale, 80:1 (1975), 41–2. © 1975 Armand Colin.

Delbosco, Héctor. “El problema de la “acción intencional” en el conocimiento sensible” in Sapientia, 45:176 (1990), 120. Reprinted with permission from Sapientia journal.

Fabro, Cornelio. “Il nuovo problema dell’essere e la fondazione della metafisica” in Rivista di Filosofia Neo-Scolastica, 66:2 (1974), 491; 492; 499; 501. Reprinted with permission from Vita e Pensiero Publishing.

Fabro, Cornelio. “Il trascendentale moderno e il trascendentale tomistico” in Angelicum, 60:4 (1983), 543; 548; 549; 550; 553. https://www.angelicumjournal.com. Pontifical University St. Thomas Aquinas, Largo Angelicum 1, 00184 Rome, Italy. Reprinted with permission from Angelicum University Press.

Fabro, Cornelio. “Knowledge and Perception in Aristotelic-Thomistic Psychology” in The New Scholasticism, 12:4 (1938), 337; 341; 342; 346; 348; 352; 364. https://doi.org/10.5840/newscholas193812453. Reprinted with permission from the Philosophy Documentation Center.

Fabro, Cornelio. La Fenomenologia della Percezione. Ferraro, C. (ed.), Opere Complete volume 5, Edivi Press, Segni (Italy) 2006. Several parts. Reprinted with kind permission from Progetto Culturale Cornelio Fabro.

Fabro, Cornelio. Percezione e Pensiero. Ferraro, C. (ed.), Opere Complete volume 6, Edivi Press, Segni (Italy) 2008. Several parts. Reprinted with kind permission from Progetto Culturale Cornelio Fabro.

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Fabro, Cornelio. “The Transcendentality of Ens-Esse and the Ground of Metaphysics” in International Philosophical Quarterly, 6:3 (1966), 389; 390; 392–3; 394; 396–7; 400; 414; 417. https://doi.org/10.5840/ipq1966634. Reprinted with permission from the Philosophy Documentation Center.

Fincham, Richard Mark. “Reconciling Leibnizian Monadology and Kantian Criticism” in British Journal for the History of Philosophy, 23:6 (2015), 1038; 1053–4. Reprinted with permission by the publisher Taylor & Francis, Ltd.

Hall, Bryan. “A Dilemma for Kant’s Theory of Substance” in British Journal for the History of Philosophy, 19:1 (2011), 90; 102. Reprinted with permission by the publisher Taylor & Francis, Ltd.

Hume, David. A Treatise of Human Nature. Oxford University Press, New York 2007.;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Reprinted with permission from Oxford Publishing Limited through PLSclear.

Kant, Immanuel. Critique of Pure Reason: Unified Edition (with all variants from the 1781 and 1787 editions). Pluhar, Werner (translation), Hackett Publishing Company, Indianapolis 1996. © 1996 by Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. Reprinted by permission of Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.

Kant, Immanuel. Kant im Kontext II: Komplettausgabe 2003 Werke, Briefwechsel und Nachlass auf CD-ROM. InfoSoftWare - Akademie Ausgabe. Karsten Worm, 2007. Reprinted with permission from Karsten Worm.

Leduc, Christian. “Leibniz and Sensible Qualities” in British Journal for the History of Philosophy, 18:5 (2010), 804; 805; 808; 814. Reprinted with permission by the publisher Taylor & Francis, Ltd.

Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm. Philosophical Essays. Ariew, R.-Garber, D. (translation), Hackett Publishing Company, Indianapolis 1989. © 1989 by Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. Reprinted by permission of Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.

Locke, John. An Essay concerning Human Understanding. The Clarendon Edition of the Works of John Locke. Nidditch, P.H. (ed.), Oxford at the Clarendon Press, Oxford 1975. Bk. 1, Ch. 1, §2; Bk. 2, Ch. 1, §23; Bk. 2, Ch. 2, §2; Bk. 2, Ch. 8, §9; Bk. 2, Ch. 8, §10; Bk. 2, Ch. 8, §11-12; Bk. 2, Ch. 8, §14-15; Bk. 2, Ch. 9, §1; Bk. 2, Ch. 21, §73; Bk. 2, Ch. 23, §29; Bk. 2, Ch. 23, §37; Bk. 2, Ch. 30, §2; ←xiii | xiv→Bk. 2, Ch. 31, §6; Bk. 2, Ch. 31, §8; Bk. 2, Ch. 32, §6; Bk. 3, Ch. 6, §3; Bk. 3, Ch. 9, §13; Bk. 4, Ch. 3, §11; Bk. 4, Ch. 3, §23; Bk. 4, Ch. 4, §3; Bk. 4, Ch. 4, §4; Bk. 4, Ch. 4, §12; Bk. 4, Ch. 12, §9. Reprinted with permission from Oxford Publishing Limited through PLSclear.

Mensch, Jennifer. “Material Unity and Natural Organism in Locke” in Idealistic Studies, 40:1/2 (2010), 150; 152. https://doi.org/10.5840/idstudies2010401/210. Reprinted with permission from the Philosophy Documentation Center.

Nachtomy, Ohad. “Leibniz and Kant on Possibility and Existence” in British Journal for the History of Philosophy, 20:5 (2012), 955; 958; 959; 963; 970. Reprinted with permission by the publisher Taylor & Francis, Ltd.

Oberst, Michael. “Kant über Substanzen in der Erscheinung” in Kant-Studien, 108:1 (2017), 8; 14. Republished with permission of Walter de Gruyter and Company, conveyed through Copyright Clearance Center, Inc.

Pimental, Stephen. “Formal Identity as Isomorphism in Thomistic Philosophy of Mind” in Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association, 80 (2006), 121. https://doi.org/10.5840/acpaproc20068023. Reprinted with permission from the Philosophy Documentation Center.

Prieto, Leopoldo. “El Opus postumum de Kant: la resolución de la física en filosofía transcendental” in Alpha Omega, 2:3 (1999), 456; 457; 470. Reprinted with permission from APRA Pubblicazioni.

Prieto, Leopoldo. “La Nueva Estética Transcendental del Opus Postumum de Kant” in Pensamiento, 65:243 (2009), 92–3; 109. Reprinted with permission from Universidad Pontificia Comillas.

Sanguineti, Juan José. “La cogitativa en Cornelio Fabro: Para una filosofía no dualista de la percepción” in Studium. Filosofía y Teología, 17:34 (2021), 443. Taken from the website https://revistas.unsta.edu.ar/index.php/Studium/article/view/395. Reprinted with permission from the journal Studium.

Tellkamp, Jörg Alejandro. “Aquinas on Intentions in the Medium and in the Mind” in Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association, 80 (2006), 279; 282. https://doi.org/10.5840/acpaproc2006808. Reprinted with permission from the Philosophy Documentation Center.

Tuschling, Burkhard. “Apperception and Ether: On the Idea of a Transcendental Deduction of Matter in Kant’s Opus Postumum.” Excerpted from: Kant’s Transcendental Deductions: The Three Critiques and the Opus Postumum, Forster, ←xiv | xv→E. (ed.), Stanford University Press, Stanford 1989, 193–9; 200–1; 208–9; 211–216. © 1989 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Jr. University. All rights reserved. Used by permission of the publisher, Stanford University Press.

Westphal, Kenneth R. “Hume, Empiricism and the Generality of Thought” in Dialogue, 52:2 (2013), 236; 237; 242; 256; 263. Reproduced with permission from Cambridge University Press via Copyright Clearance Center.

Wilson, Aaron Bruce. “Locke’s Externalism about ‘Sensitive Knowledge’” in British Journal for the History of Philosophy, 22 (2014), 440–2. Reprinted with permission by the publisher Taylor & Francis, Ltd.

Yolton, John W. “The Concept of Experience in Locke and Hume” in Journal of the History of Philosophy, 1:1 (1963), 54; 55; 60; 63; 69; 70–1. © 1963 Journal of the History of Philosophy, Inc. Reprinted with permission of Johns Hopkins University Press.

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To what degree do we attain knowledge of the world and things around us? For all its progress, the scientific community today can be reluctant to assert certain, sure knowledge regarding the material world. For non-scientists, we take the findings of the scientific community to be stated with full certainty and authority; yet among scientists there is much less certainty. “Theories are nets cast to catch what we call ‘the world’: to rationalize, to explain, and to master it.”1 Philosopher of science, Sir Karl Popper, sees apparent scientific certainty as a probing search for structure in the world; probing that can only ever hope to get closer to that truth, without obtaining it. This is arguably the current status of scientific theory and knowledge at large among philosophers; a skeptical humility regarding our knowledge of the real world permeates both scientific theory and our everyday knowledge.

I certainly do not suppose that we have a perfect, quasi-divine intellect; yet I do believe we know much about the world around us, to a considerable amount of certainty. How did we come to see our minds as groping rather than knowing? An important element in understanding current theories of knowledge is ←1 | 2→Immanuel Kant’s transcendental idealism. Kantian idealism was important in overcoming a naive sense of objectivity in human knowing, but unwittingly went too far in the opposite direction. If we overly stress the role that the subject plays in knowing the world around him, then information received from things through our senses becomes unimportant. In his attempt to save knowing from David Hume’s critique, Kant overdid his revolution and left us knowing only our thoughts and mental images. This Kantian revolution in the eighteenth century set the stage for today’s epistemological dilemmas.

Much of modern philosophy and epistemology, including Kant’s transcendental philosophy, is a reaction against modern Scholastic philosophy. Scholasticism derives from medieval philosophy, including Aquinas, Duns Scotus, and the nominalists, but their Scholastic followers did not always distinguish the different positions properly. I believe that an in-depth study of Thomas Aquinas’s philosophy will allow us to grasp our intentional knowledge better. Since our knowledge of the senses and perception has developed greatly since Aquinas, Cornelio Fabro’s work is an important contribution towards properly adapting Thomas’s theory to twentieth-century experimentation. Fabro draws especially on the psychological experimentation of the Gestalt school on the one hand, and Jean Piaget and G. Revault d’Allonnes on the other, as supporting evidence for Aquinas’s theory of knowledge. Such experimentation finds a coherent basis in Aristotelian and Thomistic philosophy, which would appear to provide more objective grounding for human knowing than transcendental philosophy.

As a comparison of two major theories of knowledge, I divide this work into two parts. The first part aims to present the main points of Kant’s cognitive theory. In order to grasp the influence Kant continues to have 200 years after his death, I first present Karl Popper’s view of scientific theory and knowledge. Once we have a better grasp of Popper’s philosophy, we go back in time to discover the eighteenth-century basis for twentieth-century theories of knowledge. While we will focus mainly on Kant’s theory of knowledge, we can only understand him properly in the context of those philosophers who influenced his transcendental philosophy; in Chapter 2 I present the theories of knowing put forth by John Locke, Gottfried W. Leibniz, and David Hume. This will allow us to clarify several problems that arise within Kant’s transcendental philosophy.

Given the continual publication of profound studies and heated debates regarding Kant’s philosophy, I give preference to his original works, above all during his critical period ranging from the 1781 publication of Kritik der reinen Vernunft to his Opus postumum. It is important to note that the Kritik der reinen Vernunft received such heavy criticism from its first publication that for the rest ←2 | 3→of his career Kant was forced to defend and adapt his position. Despite Kant’s own wavering with regard to key aspects of transcendental philosophy, his work has become part of the intellectual humus of science and general culture today.

In the second part of this book, we will follow Fabro’s presentation of the Aristotelian and Thomistic theory regarding sensed perception. By confronting experimentation from the Gestalt school with the theory of associationism, Fabro concludes that the structure in sensed objects is given, not made by us. Perception on the level of the cogitative faculty explains how we build up knowledge through our experience of material reality. Kantian apriorism comes up short, since the understanding is supposed to create such an order in objects that we require a supra-human intelligence. In comparing Kant’s system with Fabro’s and Aquinas’s, the method I propose to follow is to use scientific observation and personal experience. I argue that Aristotle, Aquinas, and Fabro describe and explain human knowing to a degree that is sufficiently confirmed both in experimentation, and above all in our own experience.

As a final caveat, more for myself than anything else, I realize that questioning Kant is no small matter; I hardly feel comparable to Henry Allison, Paul Guyer, or Peter Strawson. I am sure that there are points and subtleties in the Critique of Pure Reason that I miss. I am equally aware that my own philosophical education leans me towards Aristotle and Aquinas. This book simply seeks to find points of dialogue between these two important currents in philosophy, by including Fabro’s important work in this discussion. I can only hope that some dialogue is sparked by this work, as patchy as it may be in certain parts. As in any dialogue, I expect and invite replications and objections to my position, while also humbly requesting to be heard out. If anything, may this book help us to appreciate the intricate and complex beauties of human perception and thought.

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1 Popper, K., The Logic of Scientific Discovery, Taylor & Francis e-Library (Routledge), 2005, 37-8.

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Part I

The Problem of How We Know Things Outside of Us

In the history of philosophy of knowing, Immanuel Kant has influenced contemporary philosophy and science like no other philosopher. If we wish to understand Kant’s transcendental philosophy, a problem immediately becomes apparent. Aside from the 200 years of accumulated literature on Kant, his published works alone are widespread enough for extensive commentary. As is clear from the literature, Kant’s own position on several key elements of his philosophy changes over time. For the purposes of this study, I will focus on his Critique of Pure Reason and the parts of his Opus postumum that relate to our knowledge of the world. Following the lead of Burkhard Tuschling, Jeffrey Edwards, and Leopoldo Prieto López, I hold that Kant’s main teaching as presented in the Critique shows enough incongruencies that he was forced to revisit it in the final years of his thought. Some philosophers such as Kuno Fischer hold Kant’s Opus postumum as senile and ill-argued.1 However, his deduction of material ether in the Opus is sufficiently coherent with his Critique, however far-fetched those consequences may seem to today’s Kantians. By not grounding our knowledge of things outside ourselves, Kant’s transcendental idealism is a dubious epistemic foundation for ←5 | 6→modern scientific theory. While I must argue against Kant’s theory in the second part of this book, in this first part I wish to acknowledge the depth and earnest that appear in his works. His is an admirable attempt to explain how we know things.

As we present Popper, Locke, Leibniz, Hume, and Kant, two recurring problems become apparent. If we propose to understand the world around us through our ideas, we must determine what relationship those ideas have with things in reality. Since a theory of knowledge wishes to understand how our mind relates to external things, any such theory should also include a vision of what those things are in themselves. Theories of knowledge contain some sort of metaphysics, as an understanding of the structure of things or beings. This implicit dependence between epistemology and metaphysics means a somewhat circular relationship, since our metaphysics of how things exist must necessarily pass through our ideas of those things. This interdependence will be a constant source of trouble for philosophers, as will become apparent.

1 Cf. Förster, E., «Introduction», in Kant, I., Opus Postumum, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1993, xvi-xx.

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Karl Popper’s Theory of Falsifiability and Propensities

Karl R. Popper (1902–94) was an influential thinker active in many twentieth-century debates. As philosophy splintered into such diverging branches as analytical logic and existentialism, Popper strove to continue an intellectual, rational debate regarding empirical science and its method. Given his background in psychology at Vienna during the 1920s, Popper was interested in human knowledge regarding the material world. Within the same period, a watershed moment occurred within the scientific community, specifically in the area of physics: Both Einstein’s special and general laws of relativity together with the Heisenberg’s principle of indeterminism rocked the foundations of three centuries of Newtonian physics. A seemingly fixed and regular world system appeared to crumble, even as scientific theories sprang up to supplant and broaden the natural laws of the physical universe. Popper contributed throughout his career to the ongoing debate regarding the epistemological status of scientific theory and discovery, as it came of age, so to speak, regarding what science knows about the world around us.

Popper calls himself a realist, and a metaphysical one at that.1 The exact meaning of this self-description is elusive, since Popper is not systematic in ←7 | 8→presenting his philosophical views. We can assume from his interest in empirical science that his realism regards physical reality existing independently of ourselves, outside of our minds. Bodies and events exist outside of ourselves and form the ultimate standard for our scientific theory. How exactly does reality form the standard for our knowledge? Do we know it thoroughly enough so as to build our scientific knowledge from our experience of reality? How do we arrive at scientific laws that involve statements regarding the world around us?

How do we distinguish when our theories and everyday statements speak about the real world, from when we are speculating in our imagination about how things might be, or simply fantasizing? Popper calls this problem regarding the validity of our knowledge “the problem of demarcation”: We seek to find the “criterion by which we can distinguish between assertions (statements, systems of statements) which belong to the empirical sciences, and assertions which may be described as ‘metaphysical.’”2 The metaphysical part plays an explanatory purpose, but Popper separates it clearly from empirical science. He sees a need for such demarcation between the empirical and metaphysical, based on his experience with psychology and political theory. He compares theories such as Freud’s and Adler’s psychoanalysis and Marx’s political theory, with Einstein’s theory of relativity.3 He notices that while theories such as Freud’s can justify and explain practically all given cases, Einstein’s theory seeks to come up with an empirical experiment that would disprove his theory. This capacity of being disproven by observed experiments is the demarcation criterion between the empirical sciences and nonempirical theories. Nonempirical theories have an apparent advantage: “If all conceivable observations agree with my theory, then I cannot be entitled to claim of any particular observation that it gives empirical support to my theory.”4 Psychoanalysis’ apparent advantage of agreement in all cases ends up being its downfall as nonempirical science, however: Its theories cannot “clash with experience,” in that they cannot be refuted through experiments. This clash is only possible for the empirical sciences. How does a scientist guarantee that his theory is empirical, and so scientific? By answering the question regarding his theory: “Can I describe any possible results of observation or experiment which, ←8 | 9→if actually reached, would refute my theory? If not, then my theory is clearly not an empirical theory.”5

We can appreciate Popper’s earnest pursuit of discovering what grants the empirical science the ability to speak about reality beyond us. How do we come to form scientific theory about the world, and how certain is such theory? What allows us certain knowledge regarding the physical world, and not merely metaphysical knowledge that would adapt all reality to itself?

The Possible Path of Induction

In his search for the problem of demarcation between empirical science and metaphysics, Popper first addresses the main candidates for how we arrive at scientific theory regarding external reality, such as hypothesis and experimentation; he adamantly rejects them as insufficient and proposes his theory of falsifiability.

Francis Bacon set the tone for the modern scientific method in the sixteenth and seventeenth century. According to Bacon, scientists begin with observation of individual phenomena, repeatedly observed as occurring, from which scientists gradually build their theory that covers all individual phenomena. “Science is an inductive process: it proceeds by the inference of general scientific laws, governing a range of behaviors and properties, from specific observations of specific events.”6 Once the general theory has been formulated, it is tested and corroborated through experimentation. This would appear to suffice as a principle of demarcation between empirical science and metaphysical philosophy and psychology: We go from empirical observation to general scientific theory, and then back to reality through experimentation.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2022 (November)
Immanuel Kant transcendental philosophy Cornelio Fabro Thomas Aquinas Sensation Perception Perceptual schemas Universal concepts Participation Emerging The Heart of Matter Bridging the Kantian Gap in How We Know Things Peter J. Mullan
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2023. XVI, 424 pp.

Biographical notes

Peter J. Mullan (Author)

Peter J. Mullan hails from north-eastern Maryland. He received his doctoral degree in philosophy from Abat Oliba University in Barcelona, Spain, in 2020, with highest honors. He currently serves as campus ministry director at the Anahuac University in Mexico City, where he also participates in neuroethics studies.


Title: The Heart of Matter