Some would say that philosophy can contribute more to the occurrence of mental disorder than to the study of it. Thinking too much does have its risks, but so do willful ignorance and selective inattention. Well, what can philosophy contribute? It is not equipped to enumerate the symptoms and varieties of disorder or to identify their diverse causes, much less offer cures (maybe it can do that-personal philosophical therapy is now available in the Netherlands). On the other hand, the scientific (...) study of mental disorder has a long way to go. There is much disagreement and uncertainty about the nature, causes, and treatment of many specific disorders, as is evident from DSM's classification of them in predominantly symptomatic terms. And even if what is reflected in DSM were a consensus rather than a compromise, still this shifts periodically with each new edition. Moreover, it is a notorious fact that many patients who clearly have psychiatric abnormalities do not fit any of the recognized diagnostic categories.1. (shrink)
On Kant's view, the feeling of respect is the mark of moral agency, and is peculiar to us, animals endowed with reason. Unlike any other feeling, respect originates in the contemplation of the moral law, that is, the idea of lawful activity. This idea works as a constraint on our deliberation by discounting the pretenses of our natural desires and demoting our selfish maxims. We experience its workings in the guise of respect. Respect shows that from the agent's subjective perspective, (...) morality is the experience of being bound and necessitated, but also of being free and emancipated from inclinations. (shrink)
Abstract: The perceptual model of emotions maintains that emotions involve, or are at least analogous to, perceptions of value. On this account, emotions purport to tell us about the evaluative realm, in much the same way that sensory perceptions inform us about the sensible world. An important development of this position, prominent in recent work by Peter Goldie amongst others, concerns the essential role that virtuous habits of attention play in enabling us to gain perceptual and evaluative knowledge. I think (...) that there are good reasons to be sceptical about this picture of virtue. In this essay I set out these reasons, and explain the consequences this scepticism has for our understanding of the relation between virtue, emotion, and attention. In particular, I argue that our primary capacity for recognizing value is in fact a non-emotional capacity. (shrink)
Patients may show a more-or-less complete deviation of the head and eyes towards the right (ipsilesional) side [that is, to the same side of egocentric space as the brain lesion responsible for their disorder]. If addressed by the examiner from the left (contralesional) side [the opposite side to their lesion], patients with severe extrapersonal neglect may fail to respond or may look for the speaker in the right side of the room, turning head and eyes more and more to the (...) right. Frequently these patients will not pick up food from the left half of the plate. Given a crossword puzzle, they may complete only the squares to the right. If walking is not prevented by hemiparesis, neglect patients may lose their bearings, since they do not make use of left sided cues. (shrink)
The objects of attention can be located anywhere along the causal link from the source of stimuli to the final output of the vision system. As causes, they attract and control attention, and as products, they constitute targets of analysis and explicit comments. Stimulus-driven indexing creates pointers that support fast and frugal cognition.
(in press, under contract with MIT Press, accepted on June 30th, 2006). Attention, Information and Epistemic Perception. In Terzis, G. & Arp, R. (Eds) Information and the Living Systems: Essays in the Philosophy of Biology. The MIT Press. (14,000 words).
John Campbell investigates how consciousness of the world explains our ability to think about the world; how our ability to think about objects we can see depends on our capacity for conscious visual attention to those things. He illuminates classical problems about thought, reference, and experience by looking at the underlying psychological mechanisms on which conscious attention depends.
This report highlights and explores five questions that arose from the workshop on mind and attention in Indian philosophy at Harvard University, September 21st to 22nd, 2013: 1. How does the understanding of attention in Indian philosophy bear on contemporary western debates? 2. How can we train our attention, and what are the benefits of doing so? 3. Can meditation give us moral knowledge? 4. What can Indian philosophy tell us about how we perceive the world? 5. Are there cross-cultural (...) philosophical themes? (shrink)
This is an excerpt from a report on the workshop on mind and attention in Indian philosophy at Harvard University, on September 21st and 22nd, 2013, written by Kevin Connolly, Jennifer Corns, Nilanjan Das, Zachary Irving, and Lu Teng, and available at http://networksensoryresearch.utoronto.ca/Events_%26_Discussion.html This part of the report explores the question: How does the understanding of attention in Indian philosophy bear on contemporary western debates?
This is an excerpt from a report on the workshop on mind and attention in Indian philosophy at Harvard University, on September 21st and 22nd, 2013, written by Kevin Connolly, Jennifer Corns, Nilanjan Das, Zachary Irving, and Lu Teng, and available at http://networksensoryresearch.utoronto.ca/Events_%26_Discussion.html This portion of the report explores the question: How can we train our attention, and what are the benefits of doing so?
Reflection on cases involving the occurrence of various types of perceptual activity suggests that the phenomenal character of perceptual experience can be partly determined by agential factors. I discuss the significance of these kinds of case for the dispute about phenomenal character that is at the core of recent philosophy of perception. I then go on to sketch an account of how active and passive elements of phenomenal character are related to one another in activities like watching and looking at (...) things. (shrink)
In the sixth Logical Investigation, Husserl thematizes the surplus (Überschuß) of the perceptual intention whereby the intending goes beyond the partial givenness of a perceptual object to the object as a whole. This surplus is an apperceptive surplus that transcends the purely perceptual substance (Gehalt) or sensed content (empfundene Inhalt) available to a perceiver at any one time. This surplus can be described on the one hand as a synthetic link to future, possible, active experience; to intend an object is (...) to intend it as it would appear if we were to have an exhaustively synthetic explication of it. This perceptual apperceptive surplus is, on the other hand, distinguished from the surplus that categorial form represents over the perceptual sense data. In this paper I show how the apperceptive surplus can also be understood as a synthetic link to past experience that is passively operative in any present perception. The synthetic link to both past and possible experience is a link to non-actual perceptions. Links to non-actual experience are despite their non-actuality nevertheless genuinely intentional in that they enter into the sense of any actively constituted object understood as a unity of sense. Key to this interpretation is an explanation of how Husserl appropriated the key concepts of attention and apperception from psychologists of his day, such as Stumpf and Wundt. (shrink)
Philosophers have not been very preoccupied by the link between emotions and attention. The few that did (de Sousa, 1987) never really specified the relation between the two phenomena. Using empirical data from the study of the emotion of fear, we provide a description (and an explanation) of the links between emotion and attention. We also discuss the nature (empirical or conceptual) of these links.
A number of authors, Including Thomas Schelling and David Lewis, have envisaged a model of the generation of action in coordination problems in which salience plays a crucial role. Empirical studies suggest that human subjects are likely to try for the salient combination of actions, a tendency leading to fortunate results. Does rationality dictate that one aim at the salient combination? Some have thought so, Thus proclaiming that salience is all that is needed to resolve coordination problems for agents who (...) are rational in the sense of game theory. I argue against this position; rational agents will not necessarily aim for the salient. It remains to explain how the salient comes to be chosen by human beings. Various possibilities are noted. One involves a mechanism invoked by Hume and Wittgenstein in other contexts: we may project an unreasoned compulsion onto reason, falsely believing that rationality dictates our choice of the salient. (shrink)
Neural correlates exist for a basic component of logical formulae, PREDICATE(x). Vision and audition research in primates and humans shows two independent neural pathways; one locates objects in body-centered space, the other attributes properties, such as colour, to objects. In vision these are the dorsal and ventral pathways. In audition, similarly separable “where” and “what” pathways exist. PREDICATE(x) is a schematic representation of the brain's integration of the two processes of delivery by the senses of the location of an arbitrary (...) referent object, mapped in parietal cortex, and analysis of the properties of the referent by perceptual subsystems. The brain computes actions using a few “deictic” variables pointing to objects. Parallels exist between such nonlinguistic variables and linguistic deictic devices. Indexicality and reference have linguistic and nonlinguistic (e.g., visual) versions, sharing the concept of attention. The individual variables of logical formulae are interpreted as corresponding to these mental variables. In computing action, the deictic variables are linked with “semantic” information about the objects, corresponding to logical predicates. Mental scene descriptions are necessary for practical tasks of primates, and preexist language phylogenetically. The type of scene descriptions used by nonhuman primates would be reused for more complex cognitive, ultimately linguistic, purposes. The provision by the brain's sensory/perceptual systems of about four variables for temporary assignment to objects, and the separate processes of perceptual categorization of the objects so identified, constitute a pre-adaptive platform on which an early system for the linguistic description of scenes developed. Key Words: argument; attention; deictic; dorsal; logic; neural; object; predicate; reference; ventral. (shrink)
I am very much in sympathy with the overall approach of John Campbell’s paper, “Reference as Attention”. My sympathy extends to a variety of its features. I think he is right to suppose, for instance, that neuropsychological cases provide important clues about how we should treat some traditional philosophical problems concerning perception and reference. I also think he is right to suppose that there are subtle but important relations between the phenomena of perception, action, consciousness, attention, and reference. I even (...) think that there is probably something importantly right about the main claim of the paper. I take this to be the claim that there is a tight connection – of some sort at any rate – between our capacity to refer demonstratively to perceptually presented objects and our capacity to attend to those objects in our conscious awareness of them. What precisely this connection consists in, however, remains a mystery to me. My goal in these comments is to clarify this result. I will begin, in section 2, with a fairly general statement of the problem I take Campbell to have set himself. Following this, in section 3, I will focus more particularly on what kind of relation Campbell takes to exist, or does exist, or perhaps could exist between attention and demonstrative reference. I examine four options, the first three of which seem to admit of clear counterexamples, and the fourth of which is too weak to be of any real interest. (shrink)
In this paper I propose a model of demonstrative thought. I distinguish token-demonstratives, that pick out individuals, from type-demonstratives, that pick out kinds, or properties, and provide a similar treatment for both. I argue that it follows from my model of demonstrative thought, as well as from independent considerations, that demonstration, as a mental act, operates directly on mental representations, not external objects. That is, though the relation between a demonstrative and the object or property demonstrated is semantically direct, the (...) mechanism by which a demonstrative acquires its referent involves mediation by a perceptual representation. Finally, I argue that so-called 'demonstrative concepts'—which I treat as type-demonstratives—cannot perform the various philosophical functions that have been assigned to them. (shrink)
: This essay takes seriously the many Buddhist admonitions about ‘‘not settling down in things’’ and the importance of wandering freely ‘‘without a place to rest.’’ The basic thesis is that delusion (samsāra, ignorance) is awareness trapped (stuck), and liberation (nirvāna, enlightenment) is awareness freed from grasping. The familiar words ‘‘attention’’ and ‘‘awareness’’ are used to emphasize that the distinction being drawn refers not to some abstract metaphysical entity but simply to how our everyday awareness functions. This way of distinguishing (...) between delusion and enlightenment is not only consistent with basic Buddhist teachings but gives us insight into some of the more difficult ones, such as the way karma works and the Mahāyāna claim that ‘‘form is not other than emptiness, emptiness not other than form.’’ Moreover, this perspective illuminates some aspects of our contemporary life-world, including the particular challenges of modern technology and economics. It is important to see the implications for some of the social issues that concern us today. The constriction or liberation of awareness is not only a personal matter. What do societies do to encourage or discourage its emancipation? (shrink)
Action explanations that cite dynamic beliefs and desires cannot be modelled as causal explanations. The contents of dynamic psychological states cannot be treated as the causal antecendents to behaviour. Behavioural patterns cannot be explained in virtue of the patterns of operations performed upon the intentional antecedents to behaviour. Dynamic intentional states are persisting regulatory devices for behaviour that provide couplings with the environment. Behavioural patterns emerge from choice couplings rather than being produced by patterns for operating upon intentional antecendents to (...) behaviour in cognition. (shrink)
Meditation can be conceptualized as a family of complex tial to be specific about the type of meditation practice emotional and attentional regulatory training regimes under investigation. Failure to make such distinctions developed for various ends, including the cultivation of..