Amazon.com Love, fear, hope, calculus, and game shows-how do all these spring from a few delicate pounds of meat? Neurophysiologist Ian Glynn lays the foundation for answering this question in his expansive An Anatomy of Thought, but stops short of committing to one particular theory. The book is a pleasant challenge, presenting the reader with the latest research and thinking about neuroscience and how it relates to various models of consciousness. Combining the aim of a textbook with the style (...) of a popularization, it provides all the lay reader needs to know to participate in the philosophical debate that is redefining our attitudes about our minds. Drawing on the rich history of neurological case studies, Glynn picks through the building blocks of our nervous system, examines our visual and linguistic systems, and probes deeply into our higher thought processes. The stories of great scientists, like Ramon y Cajal, and famous patients, like Sperry's split-brained epileptics, illuminate the scientific issues Glynn selects as essential for understanding consciousness. Some might argue that his lengthy explorations of natural selection overemphasize evolutionary explanations of psychological phenomena, but they must also agree that evolutionary psychology has distanced itself mightily from social Darwinism in recent years and merits a reappraisal. The great consciousness debate may form the core of the 21st-century Zeitgeist; get ready for it with An Anatomy of Thought. -Rob Lightner From Publishers Weekly How do we know? What do we think? How could a philosophical problem-'the mind-body problem,' say-induce a headache? What can evolutionary theory, molecular biology, the history of medicine and experimental psychology tell us about the features of human consciousness, and (once again) how do we know? Glynn, a physician and Cambridge University professor, meticulously attempts to answer these questions and more, setting forth the results of all sorts of research relevant to our brains-from 19th-century dissections to Oliver Sacks-like case studies, work with monkeys and supercomputers, and the enduring puzzles of philosophy, which he rightly saves for near the end. After explaining evolution by natural selection and 'clearing away much dross,' Glynn lays out the experiments and theories that have shown 'how nerve cells can carry information about the body, how they can interact' and how sense organs work; demonstrates the 'mixture of parallel and hierarchical organization' in our brains and 'the striking localization of function within it'; considers where neuroscience is likely to go; and admits that, among the many fields of exciting research just ahead, 'we can be least confident of progress toward a complete, scientific explanation of our sensations and thoughts and feelings.' Other recent explaining-the-brain books have sometimes advanced simplistic, or implausibly grand, claims about the nature and features of consciousness in general. Instead, Glynn offers a patient, informative, well-laid-out researcher's-eye view of what we have learned, how we figured it out and what we still don't know about neurons, senses, feelings, brains and minds. (Apr.) Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. From Library Journal The nature of consciousness, which perennially troubles the minds of scientists and philosophers, is the subject of an ever-growing body of literature. Two of the latest entries approach the topic from different perspectives. Glynn, a professor of physiology and head of the Physiological Laboratory at Cambridge, offers a comprehensive summary of what we know about the brain-both its evolution and its mechanisms. Among the topics he covers are natural selection, molecular evolution, nerves and the nervous system, sensory perception, and the specific structures responsible for our intellect. Using the mechanisms involved in vision and speech as models, Glynn skillfully describes various neurological deficiencies that can lead to 'disordered seeing' and problems with the use of language. He carefully distinguishes what we know through experimental evidence from what we know through the observation of patients with neurological damage. He also describes some of the major theories that attempt to explain why these structures arose. While his book concentrates on the structures that make up the mind, Glynn is well aware that some physical events appear explicable only in terms of conscious mental events-a situation that conflicts with the laws of modern physics. Only briefly, however, does he consider the various approaches that have been taken to deal with the issues of mind/body and free will. In contrast, this is the primary focus of The Physics of Consciousness. After reviewing the fundamentals of classic physics, Walker (who has a Ph.D. in physics) summarizes elements of the new physics in which our knowledge of space, time, matter, and energy are all dependent on the moment of observation. Walker explores the meaning of consciousness as a characteristic of the observer. In this context both the observer and the act of measurement are critical. In essence, Walker leads his reader on a journey through his concept of a 'quantum mind,' which can both affect matter (including other minds) and can be affected by other distant matter/minds. To break up what would otherwise be an extremely dense text, Walker also relates the very touching story of the loss of his high-school sweetheart to leukemia. Indeed, it is his memory of their relationship that drives Walker to seek an understanding of ultimate reality. At times, he has a tendency to be dogmatic-as when he concludes, 'our consciousness, our mind, and the will of God are the same mind.' While An Anatomy of Thought is appropriate for most academic libraries, the Physics of Consciousness will be most accessible to readers with some knowledge of advanced physics. -Laurie Bartolini, Illinois State Lib., Springfield Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. From Booklist The codiscoverers of natural selection-Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace-disagreed over the possibility of finding an evolutionary explanation for the human mind. Glynn here argues Darwin's side of the debate, tracing an eons-long path of development starting from simple amino acids floating in primal seas and extending through the erect hominids in which the powers of a massive brain first manifest themselves. Patiently adducing evidence of an evolutionary origin for the underlying molecular machinery, Glynn dissects the nerve centers that make possible speech and hearing, sight, and reading. Pressing deeper, he lays bare the cortical foundations of personality. But those who deal with the mind must attend also to the arguments advanced by philosophers. And it is when he turns from dendrites to syllogisms (especially the vexing mind-body paradox) that Glynn's empirical reasoning fails him. In the end, he concedes his perplexity in trying to conceive of an evolutionary origin for human consciousness. This concession may set the shade of Alfred Wallace to chortling, but it will draw readers into an honest confrontation with a profound enigma. Bryce Christensen. (shrink)
I argue that there are non-trivial objective chances (that is, objective chances other than 0 and 1) even in deterministic worlds. The argument is straightforward. I observe that there are probabilistic special scientific laws even in deterministic worlds. These laws project non-trivial probabilities for the events that they concern. And these probabilities play the chance role and so should be regarded as chances as opposed, for example, to epistemic probabilities or credences. The supposition of non-trivial deterministic chances might seem to (...) land us in contradiction. The fundamental laws of deterministic worlds project trivial probabilities for the very same events that are assigned non-trivial probabilities by the special scientific laws. I argue that any appearance of tension is dissolved by recognition of the level-relativity of chances. There is therefore no obstacle to accepting non-trivial chance-role-playing deterministic probabilities as genuine chances. (shrink)
The starting point in the development of probabilistic analyses of token causation has usually been the naïve intuition that, in some relevant sense, a cause raises the probability of its effect. But there are well-known examples both of non-probability-raising causation and of probability-raising non-causation. Sophisticated extant probabilistic analyses treat many such cases correctly, but only at the cost of excluding the possibilities of direct non-probability-raising causation, failures of causal transitivity, action-at-a-distance, prevention, and causation by absence and omission. I show that (...) an examination of the structure of these problem cases suggests a different treatment, one which avoids the costs of extant probabilistic analyses. (shrink)
An influential tradition in the philosophy of causation has it that all token causal facts are, or are reducible to, facts about difference-making. Challenges to this tradition have typically focused on pre-emption cases, in which a cause apparently fails to make a difference to its effect. However, a novel challenge to the difference-making approach has recently been issued by Alyssa Ney. Ney defends causal foundationalism, which she characterizes as the thesis that facts about difference-making depend upon facts about physical causation. (...) She takes this to imply that causation is not fundamentally a matter of difference-making. In this paper, I defend the difference-making approach against Ney’s argument. I also offer some positive reasons for thinking, pace Ney, that causation is fundamentally a matter of difference-making. (shrink)
An actual cause of some token effect is itself a (distinct) token event (or fact, or state of affairs, …) that helped to bring about that effect. The notion of an actual cause is different from that of a potential cause – for example a pre-empted backup – which had the capacity to bring about the effect, but which wasn't in fact operative on the occasion in question. Sometimes actual causes are also distinguished from mere background conditions: as when we (...) judge that the struck match was a cause of the fire, while the presence of oxygen was merely part of the relevant background against which the struck match operated. Actual causation is also to be distinguished from type causation: actual causation holds between token events in a particular, concrete scenario; type causation, by contrast, holds between event kinds in scenario kinds. (shrink)
In Making Things Happen, James Woodward influentially combines a causal modeling analysis of actual causation with an interventionist semantics for the counterfactuals encoded in causal models. This leads to circularities, since interventions are defined in terms of both actual causation and interventionist counterfactuals. Circularity can be avoided by instead combining a causal modeling analysis with a semantics along the lines of that given by David Lewis, on which counterfactuals are to be evaluated with respect to worlds in which their antecedents (...) are realized by miracles. I argue, pace Woodward, that causal modeling analyses perform just as well when combined with the Lewisian semantics as when combined with the interventionist semantics. Reductivity therefore remains a reasonable hope. (shrink)
In this book, Mumford and Anjum advance a theory of causation based on a metaphysics of powers. The book is for the most part lucidly written, and contains some interesting contributions: in particular on the (lack of) necessary connection between cause and effect and on the perceivability of the causal relation. I do, however, have reservations about some of the book’s central theses: in particular, that cause and effect are simultaneous, and that causes can fruitfully be represented as vectors.
Though almost forty years have elapsed since its first publication, it is a testament to the philosophical acumen of its author that 'The Matter of Chance' contains much that is of continued interest to the philosopher of science. Mellor advances a sophisticated propensity theory of chance, arguing that this theory makes better sense than its rivals (in particular subjectivist, frequentist, logical and classical theories) of ‘what professional usage shows to be thought true of chance’ (p. xi) – in particular ‘that (...) chance is objective, empirical and not relational, and that it applies to the single case’ (ibid.). The book is short and dense, with the serious philosophical content delivered thick and fast. There is little by way of road-mapping or summarising to assist the reader: the introduction is hardly expansive and the concluding paragraph positively perfunctory. The result is that the book is often difficult going, and the reader is made to work hard to ensure correct understanding of the views expressed. On the other hand, the author’s avoidance of unnecessary use of formalism and jargon ensures that the book is still reasonably accessible. In the following, I shall first summarise the key features of Mellor’s propensity theory, and then offer a few critical remarks. (shrink)
I argue that meaning or significanceper se, along with the capacity to be conscious thereof, and the values, motives and aspirations, etc. central to the constitution of our intrinsic personal identities, arise, as indeed do our extrinsic social identities, and our very self-consciousness as such, from socio-cultural structures and relations to others. However, so far from our identities and behavior therefore being determined, I argue that the capacity for critical reflection and evaluation emerge from these same structural relations, the more (...) complex and quintessentially human aspects of our behavior being explained not in terms of responses to stimuli but as choices reflecting our evaluation of meaningful or significant alternatives. Finally I provide theoretical grounds for accepting the existence of other subjects and give a holistic, as opposed to a dialectical, account of the way individuals may challenge and change the very socio-cultural ways of relating to and interacting with others so central to constituting their capacities and identities. (shrink)
Poststructuralists have tried to deconstruct the subject, that is, demonstrate that it is constituted by the system of cultural and linguistic relations in which it is found. The result is that just at the moment when self-actualization seems for the first time to be politically possible for many hitherto marginalized subjects, they, and subjects more generally, appear to have been denatured – reduced to the cultural systems which are the condition of their possibility and consequently deprived of the freedom which (...) is clearly necessary for any form of self-actualization. This paper, while acknowledging that subjects are indeed culturally and linguistically constituted, argues on the basis of a holistic, emergent property hypothesis that structure or form can generate content that nevertheless transcends the structure or form that constitutes it. On this view the subject is irreducibly transcendent to the system of relations from within which it arises, and the deconstructed subject thus remains capable of free choice and self-actualization. (shrink)
Certainly many in “Western” philosophy and psychology have conceived of the human subject in the Cartesian or neo-Cartesian tradition, as a self subsisting, self identical, monadic consciousness or Ego, which is to say as an essentially unchanging, substantial subject, initially isolated or separate from the world and others. On the other hand Buddhist, Taoist, Hindu and other “non-Western” traditions, adopting a more holistic approach, have argued that such a reified,atomistic and hypostatized conception of the self is illusory. However, suggesting that (...) from at least since the time of Hume, and later, in Hegel, there has been an alternative “Western” view of consciousness, self-consciousness and identity, the development of which can be traced through the Phenomenology, Existentialism and Poststructuralism of Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, Derrida and others, the paper attempts to show how this evolving view may now contribute to a sophisticated and nuanced understanding and confirmation of the wisdom of “non-Western” conceptions. (shrink)
This paper argues that even the most extensively refined comparative cost/benefit analysis must be supplemented by other factors, irreducible to it, if we are to develop an adequate framework to guide policy decisions affecting technological design and innovation.
Hermeneutic, phenomenological, genealogical and postmodern critiques of science may be conceived as a radicalization of those contemporary analyses of science which take their point of departure from the fundamental principle of complementarity and recognize that science can never be a mirror of nature; that there are no neutral observers; that all experiments are theory-laden; that there are no simple facts. These perspectives sensitize us to the historical, political, social, and cultural dimensions of science. They force us to revisit the epistemological (...) claims of science and insist that we ask whether and to what extent the idea of scientific privilege can be sustained. (shrink)
Defining "terrorism" as the intentional targeting of non-combatant civilians, the paper argues that, other things being equal, it is not possible to effectively distinguish morally between "terrorism" and use of military power against combatant targets which might reasonably be expected to produce some guesstimable quantity of "collateral" or non-combatant civilian casualties; that it is upon the expected likely consequences of actions rather than upon the intentions underlying them, that actors should be morally judged. Furthermore I argue that other attempts to (...) rationalize the use of conventional military force, as retaliatory for prior "terrorist" actions, or as preemptive, also often largely fail either on historical grounds ("terrorists" often see their actions as responses to previously unjustified killing or letting die of the non-combatant civilian population they see themselves as representing) or pragmatic grounds (as the unintentional killing of non-combatant civilians often increases the sense of righteous indignation which helps recruit further "terrorists"). (shrink)
In an illuminating article, Claus Beisbart argues that the recently-popular thesis that the probabilities of statistical mechanics (SM) are Best System chances runs into a serious obstacle: there is no one axiomatization of SM that is robustly best, as judged by the theoretical virtues of simplicity, strength, and fit. Beisbart takes this 'no clear winner' result to imply that the probabilities yielded by the competing axiomatizations simply fail to count as Best System chances. In this reply, we express sympathy for (...) the 'no clear winner' thesis. However, we argue that an importantly different moral should be drawn from this. We contend that the implication for Humean chances is not that there are no SM chances, but rather that SM chances fail to be sharp. (shrink)
The meaning of elegance -- Celestial mechanics : the route to Newton -- Bringing the heavens down to earth -- So what is heat? -- Elegance and electricity -- Throwing light on light : with the story of Thomas Young -- How do nerves work? -- Information handling in the brain -- The genetic code -- Epilogue : a cautionary tale.
Of the many ideological blind spots that have afflicted US and, to a lesser extent, European, perceptions and analysis of the economic, political and social milieu, none have been more debilitating than the equation of democracy with political liberalism. Thus those who attempt to derive propaganda value from such an equation are vulnerable, as the US government has found, to the rhetorical counter attack that in opposing democratically elected governments, such as that of Hamas or Hugo Chavez, they are not (...) merely being anti-democratic, but are in illiberally opposition to human rights and civil liberties also; an argument quiteindependent of the same charges, emanating more legitimately, from their support of, for example, the Masharraf regime and the Saud dictatorship.Furthermore no less an august body than the Council of Europe has drawn attention to the US government’s inhumane, humiliating, degrading and cruel treatment, including torture, of prisoners, at Guantanamo, and, seemingly even more extreme treatment of prisoners in the supposedly secret or “black” prisons operated both by the CIA, and other countries, where the torture of prisoners, often illegally or extra judicially rendered to them, has been outsourced. In light of this the paper takes up a discussion of the nature of the relationship between Liberalism, Democracy and Torture as it is germane to the current legitimation crisisfacing liberal democracies. (shrink)
This essay examines the songwriting art of Bob Dylan as a vehicle for exploring and clarifying elements in Bernard Lonergan’s analysis of art. The elements focused upon include Lonergan’s treatment of symbols and symbolic meaning as the communicative medium of art, and, at greater length, Lonergan’s account of art’s capacity for what he calls “ulterior significance,” its ability to suggest depths of meaning—including divine or ultimate meaning—that we surmise to lie beyond our comprehension. Examining songs from the full range (...) of Dylan’s fifty-year career, the essay shows that from his early songwriting in the “folk” tradition and his breakthrough achievements of the mid-1960s, Dylan’s best art has been characterized by an unusual concision and power in its use of symbolic imagery, as well as by a recurrent ability to evoke, with artistic originality and effectiveness, mysteries of “ulterior significance.” These analyses are then brought together in a discussion of the religious, often eschatological, character of some of Dylan’s most significant work. (shrink)
This essay—originally a conference response to Glenn Hughes’ essay—explores how themes and notions in Lonergan’s philosophy of art extend in surprising and often unnoticed ways into the larger whole of Lonergan’s thought. By the same token, the broader framework of Lonergan’s philosophy sheds a great deal of interesting light on his philosophy of art. The essay explores this mutual illumination in the context of Hughes’ reflections on “ulterior significance.” For example, it relates Lonergan’s notion of art to his heuristic of (...) human development as an intertwining or interlocking of the organic, psychic, intellectual, and religious levels in human development. It also relates Lonergan’s notion of art, together with his recognition of the centrality of the symbolic in human living, to his treatment of the permanent human needs for liberation from “the ready-made world,” for the sense of the unknown, and for orientation into mystery—even for orientation into ultimate mystery. (shrink)
Abstract Several philosophers have claimed that S knows p only if S’ s belief is safe, where S's belief is safe iff (roughly) in nearby possible worlds in which S believes p, p is true. One widely held intuition many people have is that one cannot know that one's lottery ticket will lose a fair lottery prior to an announcement of the winner, regardless of how probable it is that it will lose. Duncan Pritchard has claimed that a chief advantage (...) of safety theory is that it can explain the lottery intuition without succumbing to skepticism. I argue that Pritchard is wrong. If a version of safety theory can explain the lottery intuition, it will also lead to skepticism. Content Type Journal Article Category Original Article Pages 1-26 DOI 10.1007/s10670-011-9305-z Authors Dylan Dodd, Department of Philosophy, Northern Institute of Philosophy, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK Journal Erkenntnis Online ISSN 1572-8420 Print ISSN 0165-0106. (shrink)
Miles Kennedy: Home: A Bachelardian concrete metaphysics Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-4 DOI 10.1007/s11007-012-9212-2 Authors Dylan Trigg, Centre de Recherche en Épistémologie Appliquée, Paris, France Journal Continental Philosophy Review Online ISSN 1573-1103 Print ISSN 1387-2842.
From the frozen landscapes of the Antarctic to the haunted houses of childhood, the memory of places we experience is fundamental to a sense of self. Drawing on influences as diverse as Merleau-Ponty, Freud, and J. G. Ballard, The Memory of Place charts the memorial landscape that is written into the body and its experience of the world. -/- Dylan Trigg’s The Memory of Place offers a lively and original intervention into contemporary debates within “place studies,” an interdisciplinary field (...) at the intersection of philosophy, geography, architecture, urban design, and environmental studies. Through a series of provocative investigations, Trigg analyzes monuments in the representation of public memory; “transitional” contexts, such as airports and highway rest stops; and the “ruins” of both memory and place in sites such as Auschwitz. While developing these original analyses, Trigg engages in thoughtful and innovative ways with the philosophical and literary tradition, from Gaston Bachelard to Pierre Nora, H. P. Lovecraft to Martin Heidegger. Breathing a strange new life into phenomenology, The Memory of Place argues that the eerie disquiet of the uncanny is at the core of the remembering body, and thus of ourselves. The result is a compelling and novel rethinking of memory and place that should spark new conversations across the field of place studies. -/- Edward S. Casey, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Stony Brook University and widely recognized as the leading scholar on phenomenology of place, calls The Memory of Place “genuinely unique and a signal addition to phenomenological literature. It fills a significant gap, and it does so with eloquence and force.” He predicts that Trigg’s book will be “immediately recognized as a major original work in phenomenology.”. (shrink)
Was love invented by European poets in the middle ages, as C. S. Lewis claimed, or is it part of human nature? Will winning the lottery really make you happy? Is it possible to build robots that have feelings? These are just some of the intriguing questions explored in this new guide to the latest thinking about the emotions. Drawing on a wide range of scientific research, from anthropology and psychology to neuroscience and artificial intelligence, Emotion: The Science of Sentiment (...) takes the reader on a fascinating journey into the human heart. Illustrating his points with entertaining examples from fiction, film, and popular culture, Dylan Evans ranges from the evolution of the emotions to the nature of love and happiness to the language of feelings, offering readers the most recent thinking on real life topics that touch us all. But Emotion is also a book filled with surprises. Readers will discover, for instance, that the basic emotions are felt the world over--whether we live in the shadow of Times Square or in the depths of the rain forest, we all feel the emotions of disgust, joy, surprise, anger, fear, and distress. We find out that, according to research, winning the lottery does not cause a lasting increase in happiness--a short-lived euphoria is followed in almost every case with a return to our usual emotional state, if not worse. And we meet Kismet, an MIT robot that can express a wide range of emotions, from fear to happiness. Fun to read and based on the latest scientific thinking, here is a stimulating look at our emotions. (shrink)
In The Aesthetics of Decay, Dylan Trigg confronts the remnants from the fallout of post-industrialism and postmodernism. Through a considered analysis of memory, place, and nostalgia, Trigg argues that the decline of reason enables a critique of progress to emerge. In this ambitious work, Trigg aims to reassess the direction of progress by situating it in a spatial context. In doing so, he applies his critique of rationality to modern ruins. The derelict factory, abandoned asylum, and urban alleyway all (...) become allies in Trigg's attack on a fixed image of temporality and progress. The Aesthetics of Decay offers a model of post-rational aesthetics in which spatial order is challenged by an affirmative ethics of ruin. (shrink)