The author is interested in computational approaches to consciousness. His reason for working in the ﬁeld of AI is to solve the mind-body problem, that is, to understand how the brain can have experiences. This is an intricate project because it involves elucidation of the relationship between our mentality and its physical foundation. How can a biological/chemical system (the human body) have experiences, beliefs, desires, intentions, and so on? Physicists have good reasons to persuade us that ours is a material (...) world that obeys physical laws. Once we commit ourselves to this view, it sounds quite bewildering to think that there is a place for independently existing minds in such a world. (shrink)
I argue in opposition to Sam Rakover that the current lack of fully adequate theories of the subjective and qualitative aspects of mind does not justify the adoption of what he calls “methodological dualism” (Rakover, this issue). Scientific understanding of consciousness requires the continuation of attempts to explain it in terms of the neural mechanisms that support it. It would be premature to adopt a methodological stance that could foreclose on the possibility of more reductionistic approaches. The effects of such (...) a stance would be especially pernicious insofar as methodological dualism lacks rigorous methods for testing specific models. (shrink)
From its genesis in the 1960s, the focus of inquiry in neuroscience has been on the cellular and molecular processes underlying neural activity. In this pursuit neuroscience has been enormously successful. Like any successful scientific inquiry, initial successes have raised new questions that inspire ongoing research. While there is still much that is not known about the molecular processes in brains, a great deal of very important knowledge has been secured, especially in the last 50 years. It has also attracted (...) the attention of a number of philosophers, some of whom have viewed it as evidence for a ruthlessly reductionistic program that will eventually explain how mental processes are performed in the brain in purely molecular terms. As neuroscience developed, however, there emerged a smaller group of researchers who focused on systems, behavioral, and cognitive neuroscience. These investigators have also made impressive advances in the last 50 years and they have been the focus of an even larger group of philosophers, who have appealed to systems level understanding of the brain as providing the appropriate point of connection to the information processing accounts advanced in psychology. (shrink)
Events are unstructured particulars and their identity conditions are to be stated in terms of necessary spatiotemporal coincidence. In contrast, Davidson says that events are unstructured particulars, with their identity conditions to be given in terms of sameness of causes and effects; and Kim says that events are structured particulars, with their identity conditions to be given in terms of sameness of their constituents. The consequences of my view are then traced for mental events.
Studien zur Phänomenologie von Brentano bis Ingarden Arkadiusz Chrudzimski. Husserl, Edmund 1908. Vorlesungen über Bedeutungslehre. Sommersemester I 908 (Husserliana XXVI, hrsg. von U. Panzer), Dordrecht/Boston/Lancaster 1987 ...
Introduction : brainbound versus extended -- From embodiment to cognitive extension -- The active body -- The negotiable body -- Material symbols -- World, Incorporated -- Boundary disputes -- Mind re-bound -- The cure for cognitive hiccups (HEMC, HEC, HEMC ...) -- Rediscovering the brain -- The limits of embodiment -- Painting, planning, and perceiving -- Disentangling embodiment -- Conclusions : mind-sized bites.
The theme of these is essays is what might be called, rather ambitiously, the nature of the human mind. Psychologists and philosophers both investigate the nature of the mind, but from rather different angles. Psychologists and neuroscientists investigate the actual mechanisms in the brain, the body and the world which underpin mental events and processes. Philosophers, by contrast, ask more abstract questions: for example, about what makes any process mental at all, or how mental reality fits into the rest of (...) reality. Psychology and philosophy are not opposed disciplines, but complementary, and the boundary between them is not sharp. The essays collected here address some of the most abstract philosophical questions, and barely touch on actual psychological discoveries. Nonetheless, I think everything that is said in this book is consistent with what psychologists have discovered and will discover. Where psychologists will want to disagree with things said in this book, their disagreement will be based on a difference of some philosophical opinion. What, then, is a mind? What is it to have a mind? What is it for something to be mental? We can all list the various states and capacities we have which we call mental or psychological: thought, sensation, desire, emotion, perception and so on. But is there something all these states and capacities have in common, which justifies us in calling them ‘mental’? I think there is, and that the concept of intentionality provides us with the answer. Intentionality is the philosopher’s word for the ‘aboutness’ or ‘directedness’. (shrink)
Dual aspect theory has conceptual advantages over alternative mind-body notions, but difficulties of its own. The nature of the underlying psychophysical ground, for one, remains problematic either in terms of the principle of complementarity or if mind and matter are taken to be aspects of something like energy, movement, or information. Moreover, for a dual aspect theory to be plausible it should avoid the four perils of all mind-body theories: epiphenomenalism, reductionism, gross panpsychism, and the problems of emergence. An alternative (...) dual aspect theory, patterned process theory, is introduced and defended in neurological and individuality terms. The concept is grounded in a brain model of hierarchies wherein consciousness is conceived to be a cognitive aspect of the highest emergent brain inter-module activity, which is situated in the context of a living organism coping with a changing environment. The notion of individuals as psychophysical units unfolding as patterned processes is shown to constitute an integrative approach to brain, consciousness, and behavior that can avoid the conceptual perils and meet the ontological requirements of dual aspect reality and thereby advance the foundations of an integrative mind-body science. (shrink)
We reconsider the Nagelian theory of reduction and argue that, contrary to a widely held view, it is the right analysis of intertheoretic reduction, since the alleged difficulties of the theory either vanish upon closer inspection or turn out to be substantive philosophical questions rather than knock-down arguments.
Characteristic mental states including thinking about going on holiday, desiring to eat a peach, feeling sad, and believing that that Australia will win the world cup. Mental states are intentional (about other things) and we have privileged access to them.
Introduction: Searching for the covert agent of consciousness -- The devil's pact (or, why the hard problem is now so hard) -- Action at the macro level : an agent-based theory of intentionality -- Action imagery and representation of the external world -- Do we need an emergency metaphysician? : action versus reaction at the micro level -- Herding neurons : the causal structure of self-organizing systems -- The paradoxes of phenomenal consciousness -- The self-organizing imagination : addressing the mind-body (...) problem -- Introspection and private access -- Action imagery and the role of efference -- Connecting physiology with phenomenology. (shrink)
The novel approach presented in this paper accounts for the occurrence of the epistemic gap and defends physicalism against anti-physicalist arguments without relying on so-called phenomenal concepts. Instead of concentrating on conceptual features, the focus is shifted to the special characteristics of experiences themselves. To this extent, the account provided is an alternative to the Phenomenal Concept Strategy. It is argued that certain sensory representations, as accessed by higher cognition, lack constituent structure. Unstructured representations could freely exchange their causal roles (...) within a given system which entails their functional unanalysability. These features together with the encapsulated nature of low level complex processes giving rise to unstructured sensory representations readily explain those peculiarities of phenomenal consciousness which are usually taken to pose a serious problem for contemporary physicalism. I conclude that if those concepts which are related to the phenomenal character of conscious experience are special in any way, their characteristics are derivative of and can be accounted for in terms of the cognitive and representational features introduced in the present paper. (shrink)
Summary. It is proposed to translate the mind-matter distinction into terms of mental and physical time. In the spirit of this idea, we hypothesize a relation between the intensity of mental presence and a crucial time scale (some seconds) often referred to as a measure for the duration of nowness. This duration is experimentally accessible and might, thus, offer a suitable way to characterize the intensity of mental presence. Interesting consequences with respect to the idea of a generalized notion of (...) mental presence, with human consciousness as a special case, are outlined. Our approach includes some features consistent with other, related ideas which are indicated. (shrink)
My aim in this thesis is to explain how a non-reductionist metaphysics can accommodate the causal relevance of the psychological and of the special sciences generally. According to physicalism, all behavior is caused by brain-states; given "folk-psychology", behavior (such as the waving of my hand) is caused by some psychological state. If psychological states are distinct from brain states (event dualism), then our behavior is overdetermined and this, it is claimed, is unacceptable. I argue that this consequence is not unacceptable. (...) I claim that our explanatory practice should guide our ontological commitment. If we can offer true explanations that appeal to more than one event (or property), then we are committed to overdetermination for the event explained. I argue that accepting overdetermination is not absurd and that we can give an adequate account of causal relevance for psychological and other supervenient properties. The result is a partial defense of both property and event pluralism. Recent work by Davidson, Fodor, Jackson, Kim, Pettit and Yablo receives explicit and critical discussion. (shrink)
The plain man thinks that material objects must certainly exist, since they are evident to the senses. Whatever else may be doubted, it is certain that anything you can bump into must be real; this is the plain man’s metaphysic. This is all very well, but the physicist comes along and shows that you never bump into anything: even when you run your hand along a stone wall, you do not really touch it. When you think you touch a thing, (...) there are certain electrons and protons, forming part of your body, which are attracted and repelled by certain electrons and protons in the thing you think you are touching, but there is no actual contact. … The electrons and protons themselves, however, are only crude first approximations, a way of collecting into a bundle either trains of waves or the statistical probabilities of various different kinds of events. Thus matter has become altogether too ghostly to be used as an adequate stick with which to beat the mind. —Bertrand Russell, “What is the Soul?” 193.. (shrink)