Elisabeth Blum and Paul Richard Blum, both Loyola University Maryland, jointly published: Giordano Bruno: Spaccio della bestia trionfante / Austreibung des triumphierenden Tieres, a translation form the Italian into German with introduction and extensive commentary at Meiner Verlag in Hamburg (Germany) 2009. ISBN: 978-3-7873-1805-6.
We propose that the sudden emergence of metazoans during the Cambrian was due to the appearance of a complex genome architecture that was capable of computing. In turn, this made defining recursive functions possible. The underlying molecular changes that occurred in tandem were driven by the increased probability of maintaining duplicated DNA fragments in the metazoan genome. In our model, an increase in telomeric units, in conjunction with a telomerase-negative state and consequent telomere shortening, generated a reference point equivalent to (...) a non-reversible counting mechanism. (shrink)
Giordano Bruno's notorious public death in 1600, at the hands of the Inquisition in Rome, marked the transition from Renaissance philosophy to the Scientific Revolution of the seventeenth century. In his philosophical works he addressed such delicate issues as the role of Christ as mediator and the distinction, in human beings, between soul and matter. This volume presents new translations of Cause, Principle and Unity, in which he challenges Aristotelian accounts of causality and spells out the implications of Copernicanism (...) for a new theory of an infinite universe, and of two essays on magic, On Magic and A General Account of Bonding, in which he interprets earlier theories about magical events in the light of the unusual powers of natural phenomena. (shrink)
The itinerant Neoplatonic scholar Giordano Bruno (1548–1600), one of the most fascinating figures of the Renaissance, was burned at the stake for heresy by the Inquisition in Rome on Ash Wednesday in 1600. The primary evidence against him was the book Spaccio de la bestia trionfante , a daring indictment of the church that abounded in references to classical Greek mythology, Egyptian religion (especially the worship of Isis), Hermeticism, magic, and astrology. The author of more than sixty works on (...) mathematics, science, ethics, philosophy, metaphysics, the art of memory, and esoteric mysticism, Bruno had a profound impact on Western thought. (shrink)
Williams (1970) argues that our intuitions about personal identity vary depending on how a given thought experiment is framed. Some frames lead us to think that persistence of self requires persistence of one's psychological characteristics; other frames lead us to think that the self persists even after the loss of one's distinctive psychological characteristics. The current paper takes an empirical approach to these issues. We find that framing does affect whether or not people judge that persistence of psychological characteristics is (...) required for persistence of self. Open-ended, abstract questions about what is required for survival tend to elicit responses that appeal to the importance of psychological characteristics. This emphasis on psychological characteristics is largely preserved even when participants are exposed to a concrete case that yields conflicting intuitions over whether memory must be preserved in order for a person to persist. Insofar as our philosophical theory of personal identity should be based on our intuitions, the results provide some support for the view that psychological characteristics really are critical for persistence of self. (shrink)
Critics of functionalism about the mind often rely on the intuition that collectivities cannot be conscious in motivating their positions. In this paper, we consider the merits of appealing to the intuition that there is nothing that it’s like to be a collectivity. We demonstrate that collective mentality is not an affront to commonsense, and we report evidence that demonstrates that the intuition that there is nothing that it’s like to be a collectivity is, to some extent, culturally specific rather (...) than universally held. This being the case, we argue that mere appeal to the intuitive implausibility of collective consciousness does not offer any genuine insight into the nature of mentality in general, nor the nature of consciousness in particular. (shrink)
Pain, suffering and positive emotions in patients in vegetative state/unresponsive wakefulness syndrome (VS/UWS) and minimally conscious states (MCS) pose clinical and ethical challenges. Clinically, we evaluate behavioural responses after painful stimulation and also emotionally-contingent behaviours (e.g., smiling). Using stimuli with emotional valence, neuroimaging and electrophysiology technologies can detect subclinical remnants of preserved capacities for pain which might influence decisions about treatment limitation. To date, no data exist as to how healthcare providers think about end-of-life options (e.g., withdrawal of artificial nutrition (...) and hydration) in the presence or absence of pain in non-communicative patients. Here, we aimed to better clarify this issue by re-analyzing previously published data on pain perception (Prog Brain Res 2009 177, 329–38) and end-of-life decisions (J Neurol 2010 258, 1058–65) in patients with disorders of consciousness. In a sample of 2259 European healthcare professionals we found that, for VS/UWS more respondents agreed with treatment withdrawal when they considered that VS/UWS patients did not feel pain (77%) as compared to those who thought VS/UWS did feel pain (59%). This interaction was influenced by religiosity and professional background. For MCS, end-of-life attitudes were not influenced by opinions on pain perception. Within a contemporary ethical context we discuss (1) the evolving scientific understandings of pain perception and their relationship to existing clinical and ethical guidelines; (2) the discrepancies of attitudes within (and between) healthcare providers and their consequences for treatment approaches, and (3) the implicit but complex relationship between pain perception and attitudes toward life-sustaining treatments. (shrink)
After more than three centuries, Molyneux's question continues to challenge our understanding of cognition and perceptual systems. Locke, the original recipient of the question, approached it as a theoretical exercise relevant to long-standing philosophical issues, such as nativism, the possibility of common sensibles, and the empiricism-rationalism debate. However, philosophers were quick to adopt the experimentalist's stance as soon as they became aware of recoveries from congenital blindness through ophtalmic surgery. Such recoveries were widely reported to support empiricist positions, suggesting that (...) the question had found its empirical answer. Contrary to this common view, we argue that studies of patients recovering from early blindness through surgery cannot provide an answer. In fact, because of the very nature of such ophtalmological interventions it is impossible to test the question in the empirical conditions outlined by Molyneux. Thus we propose that Molyneux's question be treated as an early thought experiment of a specific kind. Although thought experiments of this kind cannot be turned into actual experimental conditions, they provide a conceptual restructuring of theories. Such restructuring in turn leads to new predictions that can then be tested by normal experiments. In accord with this interpretation, we show that Molyneux's question can be analyzed into a hierarchy of specific questions about vision in its phenomenal and sensory-motor components. Some of these questions do lead to actual experimental conditions that could be studied empirically. (shrink)
This research examines the association between attitudes on cheating and cognitive moral development. In this research, we use Rest's (1979a) Defining Issues Test, the Attitudes on Honesty Scale (Authors) and Academic Integrity Index (Authors); the last two are adaptations of the DIT. A total of 220 students from three universities participated in the study (66 psychology majors and 154 business majors). The data indicate that 66.4 percent of the students reported that they cheated in high school, college, or both high (...) school and college. Psychology majors scored higher than business majors on both the Defining Issues Test (Rest, 1979a) and the Attitudes on Honesty Scale (AHS, Authors). Using factor analysis, we found significant associations between students' ratings of the importance considerations present in the three cheating scenarios and their estimates of whether cheating would occur (i.e., the Academic Integrity Index). Finally, using logistic regression, we found that the scores on the Attitudes on Honesty Scale and Academic Integrity Index associate with the self-reported cheating behavior of college students. (shrink)
Working on the assumption that ideas are embedded in socio-technical arrangements which actualize them, this essay sheds light on the way the Open Method of Co-ordination (OMC) achieves the Lisbon strategic goal: to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world . Rather than framing the issue in utilitarian terms, it focuses attention on quantified indicators, comparable statistics and common targets resulting from the increasing practice of intergovernmental benchmarking, in order to tackle the following questions: how does (...) the OMC go about co-ordinating Member States through the benchmarking of national policies? And to what extent does this managerial device impact the path of European construction? Beyond the ideological and discursive construction of the competitive imperative, this technology of government transforms it into an indefinite discipline (Foucault) which constantly urges decision-makers to hit the top of the charts. This contribution thus argues that the practice of intergovernmental benchmarking is far from being neutral in purpose and effect. On the contrary, it lays the foundation for building a competitive Europe which unites Member States through competition. (shrink)
Philosophical discussions of Molyneux's problem within contemporary philosophy of mind tend to characterize the problem as primarily concerned with the role innately known principles, amodal spatial concepts, and rational cognitive faculties play in our perceptual lives. Indeed, for broadly similar reasons, rationalists have generally advocated an affirmative answer, while empiricists have generally advocated a negative one, to the question Molyneux posed after presenting his famous thought experiment. This historical characterization of the dialectic, however, somewhat obscures the role Molyneux's problem has (...) played in spawning debates within the empiricist tradition. Fortunately, the differences between various empiricist accounts have been widely recognized and discussed among historians of philosophy working on the topic. The focus of the present essay is to develop an interpretation of John Locke's views on Molyneux's problem that best coheres with his other views on human understanding as well as with the predominant scientific opinion about the nature of perception during the period in which he lived. (shrink)
In the Critique of the Power of Judgment, Kant diagnoses an antinomy of taste: either determinate concepts exhaust judgments of taste or they do not. That is to say, judgments of taste are either objective and public or subjective and private. On the objectivity thesis, aesthetic value is predicable of objects. But determining the concepts that would make a judgment of taste objective is a vexing matter. Who can say which concepts these would be? To what authority does one appeal? (...) On the subjectivity thesis, aesthetic value is not predicable of objects. But this threatens judgments of taste with a sort of relativism. Can we not firmly assert the aesthetic value of any object? Have we no authority to make criticisms of taste? Following John McDowell’s “Aesthetic Value, Objectivity and the Fabric of the World”, I will hold that aesthetic value is neither objective nor subjective, but rather intersubjective. But, contra McDowell, I will argue that the validity that intersubjective aesthetic value bestows on judgments of taste must assume an indeterminate absolute conception of reality, of the world as it is in itself. Only such a conceptual resource can in turn make intelligible the notion of a shared or common sense according to which a judgment of taste can be universally valid, that is, valid for all subjects. Finally, I will consider an objection to common sense in matters of taste. (shrink)
If we accept the Socratic edict that the examined life is the only worth living, we find no examination can exclude that mortal fate of human life. If we define a philosophical problem as, in Hans Jonas’ words, “the collision between a comprehensive view (be it hypothesis or belief) and a particular fact which will not fit into it”, we see there can be no greater problem for materialism or organicism than the corpse. That living things die is a problem (...) for a view on which only a figment of the imagination differentiates organic from inorganic matter, as for a view on which life is rational and eternal. For any systematic view, the body is a constant reminder of an acceptable answer to the question 'what is being'. This is because the body that can die is the ultimate explanatory task for any principled answer to this question. (shrink)
The New Economic Windows Series, derived from Massimo Salzano's ideas and work, incorporates material from textbooks, monographs and conference proceedings that deals with both the theoretical and applied aspects of various sub-disciplines ...
The planning/control distinction is an important tool in the study of sensorimotor transformations. However, published data from our laboratories suggest that, contrary to what is predicted by the proposed model, (1) structures in the superior parietal lobe of both monkeys and humans can be involved in movement planning; and (2) fast pointing actions can be immune to visual illusions even if they are performed without visual feedback. The planning–control model as proposed by Glover is almost certainly too schematic.
In this essay, I elaborate a reading of the Buddhist allusions throughout T.S. Eliot's poetry as being not confessions of Buddhist faith or merely syncretic experiments, but rather ?conceptual rhymes? with the crisis of personal connection that preoccupies Eliot across multiple texts. In the Buddhist concepts of prat?tya-samutp?da, ??nyat?, sa?s?ra, and the pretas, Eliot finds thematic resonances with his own emotional and psychological concerns and so alludes to these concepts in ?The Fire Sermon? section of The Waste Land and ?Burnt (...) Norton? of Four Quartets as part of his characteristic poetic collage. By examining the connection between Eliot's personal poetic practice and the cross-cultural traditions upon which he drew, my argument intervenes in a long-standing debate regarding the meaning of Asian religio-philosophical influences in the poet's key texts. Moreover, by close reading the third movement of ?Burnt Norton? for Buddhist allusions, I attempt to refocus scrutiny of Buddhism in Eliot from the oft-discussed ?Fire Sermon? section of The Waste Land to Eliot's later Four Quartets, which remains under-examined for its Buddhist influences by scholars who instead attend to the latter text's more pronounced Vedic references. (shrink)
Trichromacy may result from an adaptation to the regularities in terrestrial illumination. However, we suggest that a complete characterization of the challenges faced by colour perception must include changes in surface surround and illuminant changes due to inter-reflections between surfaces in cluttered scenes. Furthermore, our trichromatic system may have evolved to allow the detection of brownish-reddish edibles against greenish backgrounds. [Shepard].
Late in life, Schelling proposes a critique of German idealism’s first principle, the very principle he defends early on under Fichte’s influence. I aim to reveal the Kantian and Maimonian influences on Schelling’s late turn. Kant defines an a priori principle’s proof as relying on the sense experiences that a principle in turn makes possible. The reciprocity in this signals to Schelling that proving the first principle’s reality must be an endless, historical affair. But while Kant thinks answering the question (...) quid juris, regarding our right to possess the concept underlying this principle, entitles us to go on with our proof, Schelling comes to see that demonstrating this right does not answer the question quid indicii, regarding our actual application of such a concept. Maimon raises this question in light of the possible non-reality or emptiness of our core concepts. The worry is that a proof of the first principle of German idealism that relies on sense experience will always fall short of completeness. Maimon’s doubts about our answer to the question quid indicii lead Schelling to acknowledge an ineliminable skepticism that attends the whole of history as the record of our continuing proof of the first principle. (shrink)
Communication and intentional behavior are supported by the brain’s integrity at a structural and a functional level. When widespread loss of cerebral connectivity is brought about as a result of a severe brain injury, in many cases patients are not capable of conscious interactive behavior and are said to suffer from disorders of consciousness (e.g., coma, vegetative state /unresponsive wakefulness syndrome, minimally conscious states). This lesion paradigm has offered not only clinical insights, as how to improve diagnosis, prognosis and treatment, (...) but also put forward scientific opportunities to study the brain’s plastic abilities. We here review interventional and observational studies performed in severely brain-injured patients with regards to recovery of consciousness. The study of the recovered conscious brain (spontaneous and/or after surgical or pharmacologic interventions), suggests a link between some specific brain areas and the capacity of the brain to sustain conscious experience, challenging at the same time the notion of fixed temporal boundaries in rehabilitative processes. Altered functional connectivity, cerebral structural reorganization as well as behavioral amelioration after invasive treatments will be discussed as the main indices for plasticity in these challenging patients. The study of patients with chronic disorders of consciousness may, thus, provide further insights not only at a clinical level (i.e., medical management and rehabilitation) but also from a scientific-theoretical perspective (i.e., the brain’s plastic abilities and the pursuit of the neural correlate of consciousness). (shrink)
The foundations of the Integrity Factor Model are laid down and the model is discussed. The calculation of the internal stresses in microcracked materials (as a function of temperature) is done on the basis of both the macroscopic dilation and the lattice expansion measured by diffraction. The derivation is made starting from first principles for a single crystal, and then extending the approach to polycrystals, including complex microstructures, such as those containing porosity, microcracks, and multiple phases. Focus is cast on (...) the fundamentals of the relationship between material properties and microstructure of anisotropic crystals, and on the resulting macroscopic behavior. The model is validated against experimental data, with the examples of the microcracked ?-eucryptite and porous microcracked aluminum titanate composite. (shrink)
Nicolás, esta entrevista pretende ser un estímulo para que, al hilo de unas cuantas preguntas, expongas algunos aspectos de tu pensamiento y de tu trayectoria intelectual. La conmemoración de los cincuenta años de existencia de los Anales coincide aproximadamente con el momento de tu jubilación. Tú has dirigido la revista durante la mayor parte de este tiempo y, desde luego, has sido un testigo importante de la evolución de la filosofía jurídica durante ese periodo, además de haber participado directamente en (...) ella y de haber protagonizado algunos de sus momentos de mayor relieve. Por el interés que suscita tu propia obra, y por el interés que suscita esa obra y sus vicisitudes en el contexto político e intelectual en el que se ha desarrollado, te agradecemos que hayas aceptado contestar estas preguntas. Estamos seguros de que tus respuestas, la información que proporciones a los lectores, y la reflexión que tal vez te induzcan a realizar, serán de grandísima utilidad para todos los que cultivan la filosofía del derecho. (shrink)