“This is surely the ultimate expression of the top-down approach to consciousness, written with Sommerhoff's characteristic clarity and precision. It says far more than other books four times the size of this admirably concise volume. This book is destined to become a pillar of the subject.” —Rodney Cotterill, Technical University of Denmark The problem of consciousness has been described as a mystery about which we are still in a terrible muddle and in Understanding Consciousness: Its Function and Brain Processes, (...) the author attempts to unravel this mystery by offering a clarification of the main concepts related to consciousness, and positing a comprehensive biological explanation. Consequently, this book will be ideal for a wide-range of upper level undergraduate and postgraduate courses. The author interprets consciousness as a property that can be possessed by many creatures lacking a language faculty and comprises all of the following: awareness of the surrounding world; awareness of the self as an entity; and awareness of such things as thoughts and feelings. He argues that a biological approach can achieve both the necessary conceptual clarifications and a joint explanation of these divisions of awareness in terms of just two accurately defined concepts of 'internal representation' and two empirically supported assumptions about the functional architecture of a specific set of brain processes. Despite this striking simplicity, his model covers these divisions of awareness both as objective faculties of the brain and as subjective experience. These conclusions are applied to a broad range of fundamental questions, including the biological rationale of subjective experience and where consciousness resides in the neural networks. (shrink)
Gerd Buchdahl's international reputation rests on his masterly writings on Kant. In them he showed how Kant transformed the philosophical problems of his predecessors and he minutely investigated the ways in which Kant related his critical philosophy to the contents and methods of natural science. Less well known, if only because in large part unpublished, are the writings in which Buchdahl elaborated his own views on the methods and status of the sciences. In this paper I examine the roles (...) of hermeneutics in Buchdahl's reconstruction of Kant's philosophical system and in his own 'transcendental methodological' approach to the philosophy of science. The first section looks at Buchdahl's views on the theory and practice of historical interpretation and at the Husserlian hermeneutic scheme of reduction and realisation that he used in his later accounts of the philosophies of science of Kant and himself. The second section concentrates on Buchdahl's treatment of the grounds of science in Kant; and the third on the hermeneutic strategies Buchdahl employed in articulating and justifying his own views. The paper closes with reflections on the impact and importance of Buchdahl's interpretation of Kant's critical philosophy in relation to the sciences and of his own hermeneutically based philosophy of science. (shrink)
In responding to our paper (CQ Vol 4., No. 3), Matthew D. Bacchetta and Gerd Richter include several misinterpretations and misrepresentations of our IVONT protocol and structure for ethical debate. We actively invited scrutiny of our IVONT protocol; however, for us to seriously respond to criticisms of our publication, we suggest respectfully that those who critique the article critique the protocol that we proposed. First and foremost, we certainly do not have a regarding mitochondrial genetics.
We approach the virtual reality phenomenon by studying its relationship to set theory. This approach offers a characterization of virtual reality in set theoretic terms, and we investigate the case where this is done using the wellfoundedness property. Our hypothesis is that non-wellfounded sets (so-called hypersets) give rise to a different quality of virtual reality than do familiar wellfounded sets. To elaborate this hypothesis, we describe virtual reality through Sommerhoff’s categories of first- and second-order self-awareness; introduced as necessary conditions (...) for consciousness in terms of higher cognitive functions. We then propose a representation of first- and second-order self-awareness through sets, and assume that these sets, which we call events, originally form a collection of wellfounded sets. Strong virtual reality characterizes virtual reality environments which have the limited capacity to create only events associated with wellfounded sets. In contrast, the logically weaker and more general concept of weak virtual reality characterizes collections of virtual reality mediated events altogether forming an entirety larger than any collection of wellfounded sets. By giving reference to Aczel’s hyperset theory we indicate that this definition is not empty because hypersets encompass wellfounded sets already. Moreover, we argue that weak virtual reality could be realized in human history through continued progress in computer technology. Finally, within a more general framework, we use Baltag’s structural theory of sets (STS) to show that within this hyperset theory Sommerhoff’s first- and second-order self-awareness as well as both concepts of virtual reality admit a consistent mathematical representation. To illustrate our ideas, several examples and heuristic arguments are discussed. (shrink)
Gerd Gigerenzer's influential work examines the rationality of individuals not from the perspective of logic or probability, but from the point of view of adaptation to the real world of human behavior and interaction with the environment. Seen from this perspective, human behavior is more rational than it might otherwise appear. This work is extremely influential and has spawned an entire research program. This volume (which follows on a previous collection, Adaptive Thinking, also published by OUP) collects his most (...) recent articles, looking at how people use "fast and frugal heuristics" to calculate probability and risk and make decisions. It includes a newly writen, substantial introduction, and the articles have been revised and updated where appropriate. This volume should appeal, like the earlier volumes, to a broad mixture of cognitive psychologists, philosophers, economists, and others who study decision making. (shrink)
Within the Cognitive Science of Religion, Justin Barrett has proposed that humans possess a hyperactive agency detection device that was selected for in our evolutionary past because ‘over detecting’ (as opposed to ‘under detecting’) the existence of a predator conferred a survival advantage. Within the Intelligent Design debate, William Dembski has proposed the law of small probability, which states that specified events of small probability do not occur by chance. Within the Fine-Tuning debate, John Leslie has asserted a tidiness principle (...) such that, if we can think of a good explanation for some state of affairs, then an explanation is needed for that state of affairs. In this paper I examine similarities between these three proposals and suggest that they can all be explained with reference to the existence of an explanation attribution module in the human mind. The forgoing analysis is considered with reference to a contrast between classical rationality and what Gerd Gigerenzer and others have called ecological rationality. (shrink)