§ Main Goals: 1. To construct a theory of meaning (a semantics) as Tarski does with a theory of truth. 2. To argue that the meaning of a sentence is nothing but its truth conditions. 3. To argue that a characterization of a truth predicate describes the required kind of structure, and provides a clear and testable criterion of an adequate semantics for a natural language.
1. The first such problem concerns the clarity of the notion of lying to oneself. Is it possible to lie to oneself? ___ who is being deceived? Who is doing the deceiving? ___ how is one communicating to oneself in the act of self-deception? (internal dialogue?) ___ Is lying something one can do without knowing it?
There are various entities which, if they exist, would be candidates for necessary beings: God, propositions, relations, properties, states of affairs, possible worlds, and numbers, among others. Note that the first entity in this list is a concrete entity , while the rest are abstract entities. Many interesting philosophical questions arise when one inquires about necessary beings: What makes it the case that they exist necessarily? Is there a grounding for their necessary existence? Do some of them depend on others? (...) If so, how might one understand the dependence relation? (shrink)
Belief in propositions no longer brings about the sorts of looks it did when Quine's affinity for desert landscapes held sway in the Anglo-American philosophical scene. People are doing work in the metaphysics of propositions, trying to figure out what sorts of creatures propositions are. In philosophers like Frege, Russell, and Moore we have strong shoulders upon which to stand. But, there is much more work that needs to be done. I will try to do a bit of that work (...) here. In the paper, I will probe the notion that propositions are structured entities, and that it is useful to think of their structure as resembling the structure of the sentences which express them. First, I will speak briefly to the issue of why one might find it rational to believe that propositions exist. In the second part of the paper, I will argue that we should think of propositions as having structure. In the last section, I will examine the nature of the structure of propositions. I will consider a recent account given by Jeffrey King of the nature of the relation that unifies constituents. I conclude by sketching my own view of the relation that holds between propositional constituents in virtue of which they compose a proposition. 1 I Why Believe in Propositions? Propositions are taken to be abstract entities that are a) the primary bearers of truth and falsity, b) the objects of our propositional attitudes, and c) the referents of "that-. (shrink)
Anxious temperament (AT) in human and non-human primates is a trait-like phenotype evident early in life that is characterized by increased behavioural and physiological reactivity to mildly threatening stimuli1–4. Studies in children demonstrate that AT is an important risk factor for the later development of anxiety disorders, depression and comorbid substance abuse5. Despite its importance as an early predictor of psychopathology, little is known about the factors that predispose vulnerable children to develop AT and the brain systems that underlie its (...) expression. To characterize the neural circuitry associated with AT and the extent to which the function of this circuit is heritable, we studied a large sample of rhesus monkeys phenotyped for AT. Using 238 young monkeys from a multigenerational single-family pedigree, we simultaneously assessed brain metabolic activity and AT while monkeys were exposed to the relevant ethological condition that elicits the phenotype. High-resolution 18F-labelled deoxyglucose positron-emission tomography (FDG–PET) was selected as the imaging modality because it provides semi-quantitative indices of absolute glucose metabolic rate, allows for simultaneous measurement of behaviour and brain activity, and has a time course suited for assessing temperament-associated sustained brain responses. Here we demonstrate that the central nucleus region of the amygdala and the anterior hippocampus are key components of the neural circuit predictive of AT. We also show significant heritability of the AT phenotype by using quantitative genetic analysis. Additionally, using voxelwise analyses, we reveal significant heritability of metabolic activity in AT-associated hippocampal regions. However, activity in the amygdala region predictive of AT is not significantly heritable. Furthermore, the heritabilities of the hippocampal and amygdala regions significantly differ from each other. Even though these structures are closely linked, the results suggest differential influences of genes and environment on how these brain regions mediate AT and the ongoing risk of developing anxiety and depression. Anxiety disorders are among the most common forms of psychopathology6, and frequently begin during childhood and adolescence. Although all children experience acute anxiety, children with AT display extreme behavioural and physiological reactivity to novel stimuli, and in the presence of strangers inhibit their locomotor activity and vocalizations3.. (shrink)
Emotion is normally regulated in the human brain by a complex circuit consisting of the orbital frontal cortex, amygdala, anterior cingulate cortex, and several other interconnected regions. There are both genetic and environmental contributions to the structure and function of this circuitry. We posit that impulsive aggression and violence arise as a consequence of faulty emotion regulation. Indeed, the prefrontal cortex receives a major serotonergic projection, which is dysfunctional in individuals who show impulsive violence. Individuals vulnerable to faulty regulation of (...) negative emotion are at risk for violence and aggression. Research on the neural circuitry of emotion regulation suggests new avenues of intervention for such at-risk populations. (shrink)
Attention to internal body sensations is practiced in most meditation traditions. Many traditions state that this practice results in increased awareness of internal body sensations, but scientiﬁc studies evaluating this claim are lacking. We predicted that experienced meditators would display performance superior to that of nonmeditators on heartbeat detection, a standard noninvasive measure of resting interoceptive awareness. We compared two groups of meditators (Tibetan Buddhist and Kundalini) to an age- and body mass index-matched group of nonmeditators. Contrary to our prediction, (...) we found no evidence that meditators were superior to nonmeditators in the heartbeat detection task, across several sessions and respiratory modulation conditions. Compared to nonmeditators, however, meditators consistently rated their interoceptive performance as superior and the difﬁculty of the task as easier. These results provide evidence against the notion that practicing attention to internal body sensations, a core feature of meditation, enhances the ability to sense the heartbeat at rest. (shrink)
The information processing capacity of the human mind is limited, as is evidenced by the so-called ‘‘attentional-blink’’ deficit: When two targets (T1 and T2) embedded in a rapid stream of events are presented in close temporal proximity, the second target is often not seen. This deficit is believed to result from competition between the two targets for limited attentional resources. Here we show, using performance in an attentional-blink task and scalp-recorded brain potentials, that meditation, or mental training, affects the distribution (...) of limited brain resources. Three months of intensive mental training resulted in a smaller attentional blink and reduced brain-resource allocation to the first target, as reflected by a smaller T1-elicited P3b, a brain-potential index of resource allocation. Furthermore, those individuals that showed the largest decrease in brain-resource allocation to T1 generally showed the greatest reduction in attentional-blink size. These observations provide novel support for the view that the ability to accurately identify T2 depends upon the efficient deployment of resources to T1. The results also demonstrate that mental training can result in increased control over the distribution of limited brain resources. Our study supports the idea that plasticity in brain and mental function exists throughout life and illustrates the usefulness of systematic mental training in the study of the human mind. (shrink)
For most of this past century, scholarship on the topics of personal- ity and emotion has emerged from the humanities and social sciences. In the past decade, a remarkable change has occurred in the influence of neuro- science on the conceptualization and study of these phenomena. This article ar- gues that the categories that have emerged from psychiatric nosology and descriptive personality theory may be inadequate, and that new categories and dimensions derived from neuroscience research may produce a more tractable (...) parsing of this complex domain. The article concludes by noting that the dis- covery of these biological differences among individuals does not imply that the origins of these differences lie in heritable influences. Experiential shaping of the brain circuitry underlying emotion is powerful. The neural architecture provides the final common pathway through which culture, social factors, and genetics all operate together. (shrink)
Background: Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) system activation is adaptive in response to stress, and HPA dysregulation occurs in stress-related psychopathology. It is important to understand the mechanisms that modulate HPA output, yet few studies have addressed the neural circuitry associated with HPA regulation in primates and humans. Using high-resolution F-18-ﬂuorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) in rhesus monkeys, we assessed the relation between individual differences in brain activity and HPA function across multiple contexts that varied in stressfulness.
Empathy is the combined ability to interpret the emotional states of others and experience resultant, related emotions. The relation between prefrontal electroencephalographic asymmetry and emotion in children is well known. The association between positive emotion (assessed via parent report), empathy (measured via observation), and second-by-second brain electrical activity (recorded during a pleasurable task) was investigated using a sample of one hundred twenty-eight 6- to 10-year-old children. Contentment related to increasing left frontopolar activation (p < .05). Empathic concern and positive empathy (...) related to increasing right frontopolar activation (ps < .05). A second form of positive empathy related to increasing left dorsolateral activation (p < .05). This suggests that positive affect and (negative and positive) empathy both relate to changes in prefrontal activity during a pleasurable task. (shrink)
Recent brain imaging studies using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) have implicated insula and anterior cingulate cortices in the empathic response to another’s pain. However, virtually nothing is known about the impact of the voluntary generation of compassion on this network. To investigate these questions we assessed brain activity using fMRI while novice and expert meditation practitioners generated a loving-kindness-compassion meditation state. To probe affective reactivity, we presented emotional and neutral sounds during the meditation and comparison periods. Our main hypothesis (...) was that the concern for others cultivated during this form of meditation enhances affective processing, in particular in response to sounds of distress, and that this response to emotional sounds is modulated by the degree of meditation training. The presentation of the emotional sounds was associated with increased pupil diameter and activation of limbic regions (insula and cingulate cortices) during meditation (versus rest). During meditation, activation in insula was greater during presentation of negative sounds than positive or neutral sounds in expert than it was in novice meditators. The strength of activation in insula was also associated with self-reported intensity of the meditation for both groups. These results support the role of the limbic circuitry in emotion sharing. The comparison between meditation vs. rest states between experts and novices also showed increased activation in amygdala, right temporo-parietal junction (TPJ), and right posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS) in response to all sounds, suggesting, greater detection of the emotional sounds, and enhanced mentation in response to emotional human vocalizations for experts than novices during meditation. Together these data indicate that the mental expertise to cultivate positive emotion alters the activation of circuitries previously linked to empathy and theory of mind in response to emotional stimuli.. (shrink)
The overall goal of this essay is to explore the initial findings of neuroscientific research on meditation; in doing so, the essay also suggests potential avenues of further inquiry. The essay consists of three sections that, while integral to the essay as a whole, may also be read independently. The first section, “Defining Meditation,” notes the need for a more precise understanding of meditation as a scientific explanandum. Arguing for the importance of distinguishing the particularities of various traditions, the section (...) presents the theory of meditation from the paradigmatic perspective of Buddhism, and it discusses the difficulties encountered when working with such theories. The section includes an overview of three practices that have been the subject of research, and it.. (shrink)
ai Diminished gaze fixation is one of the core features of autism and has been proposed to be associated with abnormalities in the neural circuitry of affect. We tested this hypothesis in two separate studies using eye tracking while measuring functional brain activity during facial discrimination tasks in individuals with autism and in typically developing individuals. Activation in the fusiform gyrus and amygdala was strongly and positively correlated with the time spent fixating the eyes in the autistic group in both (...) studies, suggesting that diminished gaze fixation may account for the fusiform hypoactivation to faces commonly reported in autism. In addition, variation in eye fixation within autistic individuals was strongly and positively associated with amygdala activation across both studies, suggesting a heightened emotional response associated with gaze fixation in autism. (shrink)
RPC.2 The individual’s measure of consequences is proportionate to the circle of his outlook. His horizons may lie so near that he can only measure at short range. But, whether they be near or far, he can only judge of consequences as proximately or remotely touching himself. His judgment may err; his motive remains always the same, whether he be conscious of it or not. RPC.3 That motive is necessarily egoistic, since no one deliberately chooses misery when..
Background: The broad autism phenotype includes subclinical autistic characteristics found to have a higher prevalence in unaffected family members of individuals with autism. These characteristics primarily affect the social aspects of language, communication, and human interaction. The current research focuses on possible neurobehavioral characteristics associated with the broad autism phenotype. Methods: We used a face-processing task associated with atypical patterns of gaze fixation and brain function in autism while collecting brain functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and eye tracking in unaffected (...) siblings of individuals with autism. Results: We found robust differences in gaze fixation and brain function in response to images of human faces in unaffected siblings compared with typically developing control individuals. The siblings’ gaze fixations and brain activation patterns during the face processing task were similar to that of the autism group and showed decreased gaze fixation along with diminished fusiform activation compared with the control group. Furthermore, amygdala volume in the siblings was similar to the autism group and was significantly reduced compared with the control group. Conclusions: Together, these findings provide compelling evidence for differences in social/emotional processing and underlying neural circuitry in siblings of individuals with autism, supporting the notion of unique endophenotypes associated with the broad autism phenotype. (shrink)
Dr. Davidson is a William James and Vilas Research Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in Psychology and has been at Wisconsin since 1984.
Without access to Michel Foucault’s courses, it was extremely difficult to understand his reorientation from an analysis of the strategies and tactics of power immanent in the modern discourse on sexuality (1976) to an analysis of the ancient forms and modalities of relation to oneself by which one constituted oneself as a moral subject of sexual conduct (1984). In short, Foucault’s passage from the political to the ethical dimension of sexuality seemed sudden and inexplicable. Moreover, it was clear from his (...) published essays and interviews that this displacement of focus had consequences far beyond the specific domain of the history of sexuality. Security, Territory, Population (Foucault, 2007) contains a conceptual hinge, a key concept, that allows us to link together the political and ethical axes of Foucault’s thought. Indeed, it is Foucault’s analysis of the notions of conduct and counter-conduct in his lecture of 1 March 1978 that seems to me to constitute one of the richest and most brilliant moments in the entire course. It is astonishing, and of profound significance, that the autonomous sphere of conduct has been more or less invisible in the history of modern (as opposed to ancient) moral and political philosophy. This article argues that a new attention should be given to this notion, both in Foucault’s work and more generally. (shrink)
Desde Descartes a epistemologia tem se baseado no conhecimento de primeira pessoa. Devemos começar, de acordo com a história usual, com o que é mais certo: o conhecimento de nossas próprias sensações e pensamentos. De uma maneira ou outra, progredimos então, se pudermos, para o conhecimento de um mundo externo objetivo. Há por fim uma passagem tênue ao conhecimento das outras mentes. Defendo uma total revisão desse quadro. Todo pensamento proposicional, quer positivo ou cético, sobre o interior ou sobre o (...) exterior, exige a posse do conceito de verdade objetiva, e esse conceito está acessível apenas a criaturas que estão em comunicação com outras. O conhecimento de outras mentes é, assim, básico para todo o pensamento. Mas esse conhecimento exige e supõe o conhecimento de um mundo compartilhado de objetos em um espaço e tempo comuns. Assim, a aquisição do conhecimento não é baseada em uma progressão do subjetivo para o objetivo; ele emerge holisticamente e é interpessoal desde o começo. (shrink)
Feminists, like members of other oppressed groups, are likely to embrace many aspects of Albert Memmi’s profound analysis of domination and oppression. Even though feminists can find common cause with Memmi in many respects, nevertheless they are likely to find themselves at odds with what Memmi says and does not say about women.  .
Memory may be crucial for establishing and/or maintaining social bonds. Using the National Social life, Health, and Aging Project questionnaire, we examined close interpersonal relationships in three amnesic people: K.C. and D.A. (who are adult-onset cases) and H.C. (who has developmental amnesia). All three patients were less involved than demographically-matched controls with neighbors and religious and community groups. A higher-than-normal percentage of the adult-onset (K.C. and D.A.) cases’ close relationships were with family members, and they had made few new close (...) friends in the decades since the onset of their amnesia. On the other hand, the patient with developmental amnesia (H.C.) had forged a couple of close relationships, including one with her fiancé. Social networks appear to be winnowed, but not obliterated, by amnesia. The obvious explanation for the patients’ reduced social functioning stems from their memory impairment, but we discuss other potentially important factors for future study. (shrink)
This essay examines the work of Ewa Lipska, who, since the publication of her first book in 1967, has been among the most acclaimed of recent Polish poets but less well known in the West than Czesław Miłosz, Wisława Szymborska, or Adam Zagajewski. She is a philosophical poet, making frequent reference to the tradition of the Frankfurt School, in order to ironize the Enlightenment, Marxism, and Critical Theory, but also in order to assess the dangers of globalization. The focus of (...) the analysis is Lipska’s volume 1999, the linchpin of a poetic project that engages centuries of social systems (political, economic, scientific, technological, artistic) and their vocabularies in order to examine the viability of human knowledge and the motivations underlying its creation. (shrink)