In C. S. Peirce, as well as in the work of many biosemioticians, the semiotic object is sometimes described as a physical “object” with material properties and sometimes described as an “ideal object” or mental representation. I argue that to the extent that we can avoid these types of characterizations we will have a more scientific definition of sign use and will be able to better integrate the various fields that interact with biosemiotics. In an effort to end Cartesian dualism (...) in semiotics, which has been the main obstacle to a scientific biosemiotics, I present an argument that the “semiotic object” is always ultimately the objective of self-affirmation (of habits, physical or mental) and/or self-preservation. Therefore, I propose a new model for the sign triad: response-sign-objective. With this new model it is clear, as I will show, that self-mistaking (not self-negation as others have proposed) makes learning, creativity and purposeful action possible via signs. I define an “interpretation” as a response to something as if it were a sign, but whose semiotic objective does not, in fact, exist. If the response-as-interpretation turns out to be beneficial for the system after all, there is biopoiesis. When the response is not “interpretive,” but self-confirming in the usual way, there is biosemiosis. While the conditions conducive to fruitful misinterpretation (e.g., accidental similarity of non-signs to signs and/or contiguity of non-signs to self-sustaining processes) might be artificially enhanced, according to this theory, the outcomes would be, by nature, more or less uncontrollable and unpredictable. Nevertheless, biosemiotics could be instrumental in the manipulation and/or artificial creation of purposeful systems insofar as it can describe a formula for the conditions under which new objectives and novel purposeful behavior may emerge, however unpredictably. (shrink)
In this book Almaas brings together concepts and experiences drawn from contemporary object relations theory, Freudian-based ego psychology, case studies from his own spiritual practice, and teaching from the highest levels of Buddhist and other Eastern practices. He challenges us to look not only at the personality and the content of the mind, but also at the underlying nature of the mind itself.
The Philosophy of Autism examines autism from the tradition of analytic philosophy, working from the premise that so-called autism spectrum disorders raise interesting philosophical questions that need to be and can be addressed in a manner that is clear, jargon-free, and accessible. The goal of the original essays in this book is to provide a philosophically rich analysis of issues raised by autism and to afford dignity and respect to those living with autism by placing it at the center of (...) the discussion. (shrink)
One of the deepest assumptions of Judaism and its offspring, Christianity, is that there is an important difference between human persons and everything else that exists in Creation. We alone are made in God’s image. We alone are the stewards of the earth. It is said in Genesis that we have “dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps (...) upon the earth.” It is difficult to see how a traditional theist could deny the significance of the difference between human persons and the rest of Creation. We human persons are morally and ontologically special. (shrink)
Constructivist theory must choose between the hypothesis that felt perturbation drives cognitive development (the priority of felt perturbation) and the hypothesis that the particular process that eventually produces new cognitive structures first produces felt perturbation (the continuity of process). There is ambivalence in Piagetian theory regarding this choice. The prevalent account of constructivist theory adopts the priority of felt perturbation. However, on occasion Piaget has explicitly rejected it, simultaneously endorsing the continuity of process. First, I explicate and support this latter (...) position, arguing that felt perturbation emerges after the construction of a new cognitive structure has already begun. Next, I discuss the broader significance of rejecting the priority of felt perturbation in terms of a distinction between two types of theory of effective change, labeled Lamarckian and Darwinian in analogy with familiar theories of evolutionary change. Rejecting the priority of felt perturbation allows the development of a Darwinian perspective. In turn, the Darwinian perspective offers advantages for elaborating the analogy Piaget proposed between consciousness and the relation of form and content. (shrink)
The body mandala, or, How your brain maps the world -- The little man in the brain, or, Why your genitals are even smaller than you think -- Dueling body maps, or, Why you still feel fat after losing weight -- The homunculus in the game, or, When thinking is as good as doing -- Plasticity gone awry, or, When body maps go blurry -- Broken body maps, or, Why Dr. Strangelove couldn't keep his hand down -- The bubble around (...) the body, or, Why you seek elbow room -- Sticks and stones and cyberbones, or, The end of the body as we know it? -- Mirror, mirror, or, Why yawning is contagious -- Heart of the mandala, or, My insula made me do it -- Afterword, or, The you-ness of you. (shrink)
The relationship between body and mind was traditionally discussed in terms of immortality of the intellect, because immateriality was one necessary condition for the mind to be immortal. This appeared to be an issue of metaphysics and religion. But to the medieval and Renaissance thinkers, the essence of mind is thinking activity and hence an epistemological feature. Starting with John Searle’s worries about the existence of consciousness, I try to show some parallels with the Aristotelian Pietro Pomponazzi (1462–1525), and eventually (...) show the Neoplatonic approach in Marsilio Ficino (1433–1499). The guiding question is: how can one philosophically address the problem of cognition in terms of corporeality and incorporeality? Searle maintains there is mind, although essentially related to a biological basis, and he is comparable to the Renaissance thinkers for his taking the interaction of the mental and the corporeal seriously. (shrink)
Traditional theory of mind (ToM) accounts for social cognition have been at the basis of most studies in the social cognitive neurosciences. However, in recent years, the need to go beyond traditional ToM accounts for understanding real life social interactions has become all the more pressing. At the same time it remains unclear whether alternative accounts, such as interactionism, can yield a sufficient description and explanation of social interactions. We argue that instead of considering ToM and interactionism as mutually exclusive (...) opponents, they should be integrated into a more comprehensive account of social cognition. We draw on dual process models of social cognition that contrast two different types of social cognitive processing. The first type (labeled Type 1) refers to process es that are fast, efficient, stimulus-driven, and relatively inflexible. The second type (labeled Type 2) refers to processes that are relatively slow, cognitively laborious, flexible, and may involve conscious control. We argue that while interactionism captures aspects of social cognition mostly related to Type 1 processes, ToM is more focused on those based on Type 2 processes. We suggest that real life social interactions are rarely based on either Type 1 or Type 2 processes alone. On the contrary, we propose that in most cases both types of processes are simultaneously involved and that social behavior may be sustained by the interplay between these two types of processes. Finally, we discuss how the new integrative framework can guide experimental research on social interaction. (shrink)
In Thought as a System , best-selling author David Bohm takes as his subject the role of thought and knowledge at every level of human affairs, from our private reflections on personal identity to our collective efforts to fashion a tolerable civilization. Elaborating upon principles of the relationship between mind and matter first put forward in Wholeness and the Implicate Order , Professor Bohm rejects the notion that our thinking processes neutrally report on what is `out there' in an objective (...) world. Bohm carefully explores the manner in which thought actively participates in forming our perceptions, our sense of meaning and our daily actions. He suggests that collective thought and knowledge have become so automated that we are in large part controlled by them, with a subsequent loss of authenticity, freedom and order. In conversations with fifty seminar participants in Ojai, California, David Bohm offers a radical perspective on an underlying source of human conflict and inquires into the possibility of individual and collective transformation. (shrink)
This article proposes a three-step model of empathy. It assumes that people have various empathy-related mechanisms available and thus can be described as hyper-empathic (Step 1). Under these conditions, the question of blocking and controlling empathy becomes a central issue to channel empathic attention and to avoid self-loss (Step 2). It is assumed that empathy can be sustained only when these mechanisms of controlling empathy are bypassed (Step 3). In particular, the article proposes a three-person scenario with one observing a (...) conflict of two others. By taking the side of one of the combatants, the observer is led into empathizing, perhaps to justify her/his earlier side-taking. (shrink)
Because psychological studies of attention and cognition are most commonly performed within the strict confines of the laboratory or take cognitively impaired patients as subjects, it is difficult to be sure that resultant models of attention adequately account for the phenomenon of effortless attention. The problem is not only that effortless attention is resistant to laboratory study. A further issue is that because the laboratory is the most common way to approach attention, models resulting from such studies are naturally the (...) most widely propagated, these models naturally tend to be biased toward features of attention most amenable to laboratory study, and these models by their implications set the agenda for future study that leads back to the laboratory. In this self-reinforcing system, features of attention not amenable to laboratory study are naturally neglected by researchers. In this chapter, I suggest an alternative model of attention as a heuristic for opening paths to further profitable research. The features of attention emphasized in this model are not new, but the synthesis is novel and sheds some light on issues relevant to the topic of effortless attention. I begin with the five following observations: -/- 1. One naturally pays attention to a task of current interest. 2. There are (at least) two distinct modes of attention—selective and diffuse. 3. Attention is a constantly shifting avenue for the assimilation of information. 4. Information is not forced in from outside but is captured through internal sensitization. 5. Human information processing is fundamentally syntactic. -/- Combining these five observations yields an explanatory model of attention that is not only consistent with the data from the many studies on attention in recent decades but also allows us to investigate the neglected phenomenon of effortless attention. The model relies on the notions of apertures, draw, and syntax and is explicated by addressing each of the above observations in turn. In the final part of the chapter, I explore how the model expands our understanding of effortless attention. (shrink)
This is the first book to explore the cognitive science of effortless attention and action. Attention and action are generally understood to require effort, and the expectation is that under normal circumstances effort increases to meet rising demand. Sometimes, however, attention and action seem to flow effortlessly despite high demand. Effortless attention and action have been documented across a range of normal activities--from rock climbing to chess playing--and yet fundamental questions about the cognitive science of effortlessness have gone largely unasked. (...) -/- This book draws from the disciplines of cognitive psychology, neurophysiology, behavioral psychology, genetics, philosophy, and cross-cultural studies. Starting from the premise that the phenomena of effortless attention and action provide an opportunity to test current models of attention and action, leading researchers from around the world examine topics including effort as a cognitive resource, the role of effort in decision making, the neurophysiology of effortless attention and action, the role of automaticity in effortless action, expert performance in effortless action, and the neurophysiology and benefits of attentional training. -/- Contributors: Joshua M. Ackerman, James H. Austin, John A. Bargh, Roy F. Baumeister, Sian L. Beilock, Chris Blais, Matthew M. Botvinick, Brian Bruya, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Marci S. DeCaro, Arne Dietrich, Yuri Dormashev, László Harmat, Bernhard Hommel, Rebecca Lewthwaite, Örjan de Manzano, Joseph T. McGuire, Brian P. Meier, Arlen C. Moller, Jeanne Nakamura, Evgeny N. Osin, Michael I. Posner, Mary K. Rothbart, M. R. Rueda, Brandon J. Schmeichel, Edward Slingerland, Oliver Stoll, Yiyuan Tang, Töres Theorell, Fredrik Ullén, Robert D. Wall, Gabriele Wulf. (shrink)
`The work develops and articulates a brilliant and original central thesis; namely that modern individuals are best understood as complex bodies of thought, as embodied symbolic and material beings. Future work on mind, self, body, society and culture will have to begin with Burkitt's text' - Norman K. Denzin, University of Illinois `After his excellent Social Selves, Ian Burkitt has produced a new theory of embodiment which will become required reading for those working in the areas of social theory, sociology, (...) cultural studies and social psychology. Steering between constructionist and realist theories of the social actor, Bodies of Thought provides an innovative assessment of Foucaultian, Eliasian, and feminist approaches to the body and a sustained critique of Cartesian notions of the subject' - Chris Shilling, Department of Social and Historical Studies, University of Portsmouth In this incisive and truly impressive book, Ian Burkitt critically addresses the dualism between mind and body, thought and emotion, rationality and irrationality, and the mental and the material, which haunt the post-Cartesian world. Drawing on the work of contemporary social theorists and feminist writers, he argues that thought and the sense of being a person is inseparable from bodily practices within social relations, even though such active experience may be abstracted and expanded upon through the use of symbols. Overcoming classic dualisms in social thought, Burkitt argues that bodies are not purely the constructs of discourses of power: they are also productive, communicative, and invested with powerful capacities for changing the social and natural worlds. He goes on to consider how such powers can be developed in more ethical forms of relations and activities. Bodies of Thought will be essential reading for students and academics in social theory, social psychology, cultural studies, feminist theory and the sociology of the body. (shrink)
Growing up, I was a mathematics and science geek. I read everything I could in these areas. Every now and then, something would point in a philosophical direction. Perhaps my most important influence was reading Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach as a teenager. I read it initially for the mathematical parts, but it planted a seed for thinking about the mind. Later, Hofstadter and Dennett’s The Mind’s I got me thinking more about the mind–body problem in particular.
Here is the paper that was attacked by George Rea in his “How many minds…?” paper. Has this issue been resolved? Can there be entities such that there is no definite answer to the question “Are there 13 minds at work here, or 14?” -/- .
Persons are creatures with a range of personal capacities. Most known to us are also people, though nothing in observation or biological theory demands that all and only people are persons, nor even that persons, any more than people, constitute a natural kind. My aim is to consider what non-personal minds are like. Darwin's Earthworms are sensitive, passionate and, in their degree, intelligent. They may even construct maps, embedded in the world they perceive around them, so as to be able (...) to construct their tunnels. Other creatures may be able to perceive that world as also accessible to other minds, and structure it by locality and temporal relation, without having many personal qualities. Non-personal mind, on both modern materialist and Plotinian grounds, may be the more usual, and the less deluded, sort of mind. (shrink)
I reconstruct Aristotle’s reasons for thinking that the intellect cannot have a bodily organ. I present Aristotle’s account of the aboutness or intentionality of cognitive states, both perceptual and intellectual. On my interpretation, Aristotle’s account is based around the notion of cognitive powers taking on forms in a special preservative way. Based on this account, Aristotle argues that no physical structure could enable a bodily part or combination of bodily parts to produce or determine the full range of forms that (...) the human intellect can understand. For Aristotle, cognitive powers with bodily organs are always spatiotemporally limited, but the understanding is not. Aristotle claims that our understanding applies to all instances of the thing understood wherever and whenever they exist. On Aristotle’s own account the intellect in its nature is only “potential,” it does not actually possess any form. Thus nothing prevents it from possessing all forms. (shrink)
Perhaps no other classical philosophical tradition, East or West, offers a more complex and counter-intuitive account of mind and mental phenomena than Buddhism. While Buddhists share with other Indian philosophers the view that the domain of the mental encompasses a set of interrelated faculties and processes, they do not associate mental phenomena with the activity of a substantial, independent, and enduring self or agent. Rather, Buddhist theories of mind center on the doctrine of no-self (Pāli anatta, Skt. anātma), which postulates (...) that human beings are reducible to the physical and psychological constituents and processes which comprise them. (shrink)
A key failing in contemporary philosophy of mind is the lack of attention paid to evolutionary theory in its research projects. Notably, where evolution is incorporated into the study of mind, the work being done is often described as philosophy of cognitive science rather than philosophy of mind. Even then, whereas possible implications of the evolution of human cognition are taken more seriously within the cognitive sciences and the philosophy of cognitive science, its relevance for cognitive science has only been (...) appreciated relatively recently, and the approach still comes in for some major criticism from prominent theorists within the field. This paper explores some of the reasons for this state of affairs and finds that it might have less to do with due consideration and well-founded scepticism about the relevance of evolutionary theory to these disciplines and more to do with historical accident and faulty assumptions on the part of key theorists in these disciplines. It is also noted that where cognitive scientists are taking evolution into account in their work on the mind, they straying more and more into domains that used to fall exclusively under the purview of philosophy of mind as it is traditionally conceived – qualia, consciousness, perception, intentionality and so forth. The point is made that in ignoring the work being done on the evolution of mind, philosophy of mind runs the risk of becoming obsolete. (shrink)
In "Why brains matter: an integrational perspective on The Symbolic Species" Cowley (2002) [Language Sciences 24, 73-95] suggests that Deacon pictures brains as being able to process words qua tokens, which he identifies as the theory's Achilles' heel. He goes on to argue that Deacon's thesis on the co-evolution of language and mind would benefit from an integrational approach. This paper argues that Cowley's criticism relies on an invalid understanding of Deacon's use the concept of "symbolic reference", which he appropriates (...) from Peirce's semiotic. Peirce's analysis as well as Deacon's appropriation will be examined in detail. Consequently it will be argued that an integrationist reading would add very little to Deacon's core thesis. (shrink)
In this article, the authors examine and debate the categories of emotions, moods, temperaments, character traits and sentiments. They define them and offer an account of the relations that exist among the phenomena they cover. They argue that, whereas ascribing character traits and sentiments (dispositions) is to ascribe a specific coherence and stability to the emotions (episodes) the subject is likely to feel, ascribing temperaments (dispositions) is to ascribe a certain stability to the subject’s moods (episodes). The rationale for this (...) distinction, the authors claim, lies in the fact that, whereas appeal to character traits or sentiments in explanation is tantamount to making sense of a given behaviour in terms of an individual’s specific evaluative perspective — as embodied in this individual’s emotional profile — appeal to temperaments makes sense of it independently of any such evaluative perspective. (shrink)
Enactive approaches foreground the role of interpersonal interaction in explanations of social understanding. This motivates, in combination with a recent interest in neuroscientific studies involving actual interactions, the question of how interactive processes relate to neural mechanisms involved in social understanding. We introduce the Interactive Brain Hypothesis (IBH) in order to help map the spectrum of possible relations between social interaction and neural processes. The hypothesis states that interactive experience and skills play enabling roles in both the development and current (...) function of social brain mechanisms, even in cases where social understanding happens in the absence of immediate interaction. We examine the plausibility of this hypothesis against developmental and neurobiological evidence and contrast it with the widespread assumption that mindreading is crucial to all social cognition. We describe the elements of social interaction that bear most directly on this hypothesis and discuss the empirical possibilities open to social neuroscience. We propose that the link between coordination dynamics and social understanding can be best grasped by studying transitions between states of coordination. These transitions form part of the self-organization of interaction processes that characterize the dynamics of social engagement. The patterns and synergies of this self-organization help explain how individuals understand each other. Various possibilities for role-taking emerge during interaction, determining a spectrum of participation. This view contrasts sharply with the observational stance that has guided research in social neuroscience until recently. We also introduce the concept of readiness to interact to describe the practices and dispositions that are summoned in situations of social significance (even if not interactive). This latter idea links interactive factors to more classical observational scenarios. (shrink)
Contemporary accounts of the self-ascription of experiences are wedded to two basic dogmas. The first is that self-ascription is immune to error through misidentification relative to the first person (IEM). The second dogma is that there is distinction between awareness of oneself qua subject and awareness of oneself qua object (the SCS/SCO distinction). In this paper, I urge that these dogmas are groundless. First, I illustrate that claims about immunity to error through misidentification are usually based upon claims about awareness (...) of oneself qua subject. Self-ascriptions are IEM, because self-ascriptions involve awareness of oneself qua subject. Following Sydney Shoemaker, philosophers appeal to Wittgenstein’s discussion of the I-as-subject to bolster this claim. I argue that this interpretation of Wittgenstein is actually a crossbreed of the views of Shoemaker and Wittgenstein, which I will call ‘Shoegenstein.’ I argue that Shoegenstein is not Wittgenstein. Apart from these historical considerations, I argue that if IEM is based on the SCS/SCO distinction, and there is no non-circular account of that distinction, then IEM is not based on anything. I suggest that we should understand self-consciousness as awareness of a subject as an object, which would mean that SCS and SCO are not exclusive. One consequence of disposing of these two dogmas is to allow for a positive naturalistic account of self-ascription. Another consequence is to present an approach to self-ascription that stresses the lived position of the subject, which I urge is friendly to Wittgenstein’s later account of the subject of self-ascription. (shrink)
In recent years, philosophers and psychologists have resurrected a debate at the intersection of metaphysics and moral psychology. The central question is whether we can conceive of moral agents as deterministic systems unfolding predictably and inevitably under constant laws without psychologically damaging the pro-social attitudes and moral emotions that grease the wheels of social life. These concerns are sparked by recent experiments documenting a decline in the ethical behavior of participants primed with deterministic metaphysics. But this literature has done little (...) to sway most contemporary philosophers who have instead emphasized determinism's positive social impact in motivating more compassionate responses to social deviance. This article presents the case for a middle position. It argues that the ?deterministic conception of human action? (the DCA) is likely to have a dual impact on human moral psychology. On one hand, the DCA is likely to mollify one of our species? least admirable tendencies involving retributive moral anger, while concomitantly exacerbating one of our worst, namely our tendency toward moral apathy. This article begins with an overview of this emerging interdisciplinary debate, offers the evidence for a middle position, and concludes with suggestions for mitigating the negative social impact of deterministic metaphysics. (shrink)