Abstract Descartes's theory of volition as expressed in his Passions of the Soul is analyzed and outlined. The focus is not on Descartes's proposed answers to questions about the nature and processes of volition, but on his way of formulating questions about the nature of volition. It is argued that the assumptions underlying Descartes's questions have become ?intellectual strait?jackets? for all who are interested in volition: neuroscientists, philosophers and psychologists. It is shown that Descartes's basic assumption?that volition causes change in (...) the brain/mind, not in the world around us?has set in train a series of ?themata? that have dominated studies of the will, severely curtailing our understanding. It is then shown that these Cartesian themata are so limiting and confusing that a number of internally contradictory ideas have actually become mainstays of most theories of volition; in particular, the concepts of unconscious sensations and of involuntary volitions. (shrink)
The philosophical or metaphysical architecture of Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection is analyzed and diflussed. It is argued that natural selection was for Darwin a paradigmatic case of a natural law of change — an exemplar of what Ghiselin (1969) has called selective retention laws. These selective retention laws lie at the basis of Darwin's revolutionary world view. In this essay special attention is paid to the consequences for Darwin's concept of species of his selective retention laws. Although (...) Darwin himself explicity supported a variety of nominalism, implicit in the theory of natural selection is a solution to the dispute between nominalism and realism. It is argued that, although implicit, this view plays a very important role in Darwin's theory of natural selection as the means for the origin of species. It is in the context of these selective retention laws and their philosophical implications that Darwin's method is appraised in the light of recent criticisms, and the conclusion drawn that he successfully treated some philosophical problems by approaching them through natural history. Following this an outline of natural selection theory is presented in which all these philosophical issues are highlighted. (shrink)
Hintikka has criticized psychologists for "hasty epistemologizing," which he takes to be an unwarranted transfer of ideas from psychology (a discipline dealing with questions of fact) into epistemology (a discipline dealing with questions of method and theory). Hamlyn argues, following Hintikka, that Gibson's theory of perception is an example of such an inappropriate transfer, especially insofar as Hamlyn feels Gibson does not answer several important questions. However, Gibson's theory does answer the relevant questions, albeit in a new and radical way, (...) which suggests that the alleged distinction between psychology and epistemology is suspect. In fact, contrary to Hintikka and Hamlyn's claims, Gibson's theory of perception appears to be a valuable source of epistemological as well as psychological ideas. (shrink)
It is proposed that the Darwinian theoretical approach and account of living systems has not yet been clearly given. A first approximation to this is attempted, focussing on behavior in evolving environments. A theoretical terminology is defined emphasizing the mutuality of organism and environment and the existence of biologically theoretical entities.