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.
Biologists, historians, lawyers, art historians, and literary critics all voice arguments in the critical dialogue about what constitutes evidence in research and scholarship. They examine not only the constitution and "blurring" of disciplinary boundaries, but also the configuration of the fact-evidence distinctions made in different disciplines and historical moments the relative function of such concepts as "self-evidence," "experience," "test," "testimony," and "textuality" in varied academic discourses and the way "rules of evidence" are themselves products of historical developments. The essays and (...) rejoinders are by Terry Castle, Lorraine Daston, Carlo Ginzburg, Ian Hacking, Mark Kelman, R. C. Lewontin, Pierre Vidal-Naquet, Mary Poovey, Donald Preziosi, Simon Schaffer, Joan W. Scott, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, and Barbara Herrnstein Smith. The critical responses are by Lauren Berlant, James Chandler, Jean Comaroff, Arnold I. Davidson, Harry D. harootunian, Elizabeth Helsinger, Thomas C. Holt, Francoise Meltzer, Robert J. Richards, Lawrence Rothfield, Joel Snyder, Cass R. Sunstein, and William Wimsatt. (shrink)
Reminiscences of Peter, by P. Oppenheim.--Natural kinds, by W. V. Quine.--Inductive independence and the paradoxes of confirmation, by J. Hintikka.--Partial entailment as a basis for inductive logic, by W. C. Salmon.--Are there non-deductive logics?, by W. Sellars.--Statistical explanation vs. statistical inference, by R. C. Jeffre--Newcomb's problem and two principles of choice, by R. Nozick.--The meaning of time, by A. Grünbaum.--Lawfulness as mind-dependent, by N. Rescher.--Events and their descriptions: some considerations, by J. Kim.--The individuation of events, by D. Davidson.--On properties, (...) by H. Putnam.--A method for avoiding the Curry paradox, by F. B. Fitch.--Publications (1934-1969) by Carl G. Hempel (p. -270). (shrink)
Talents that selectively facilitate the acquisition of high levels of skill are said to be present in some children but not others. The evidence for this includes biological correlates of specific abilities, certain rare abilities in autistic savants, and the seemingly spontaneous emergence of exceptional abilities in young children, but there is also contrary evidence indicating an absence of early precursors of high skill levels. An analysis of positive and negative evidence and arguments suggests that differences in early experiences, preferences, (...) opportunities, habits, training, and practice are the real determinants of excellence. Key Words: exceptional ability; expertise; gift; innate capacity; music; potential; prodigy; specific ability; talent. (shrink)
Meditation can be conceptualized as a family of complex tial to be speciﬁc about the type of meditation practice emotional and attentional regulatory training regimes under investigation. Failure to make such distinctions developed for various ends, including the cultivation of..
This Response addresses eight issues raised in the commentaries: (1) the question of how innate talents should be defined; (2) relationships between the talent account and broader views concerning genetic variability; (3) the quality of the empirical evidence for and against the talent account; (4) the possible involvement of innate influences on specific abilities; (5) the possibility of talent-like phenomena in autistic savants; (6) alternative explanations of exceptional expertise at skills; (7) practical and educational implications of the talent account and (...) alternative positions. Finally, (8), we conclude by discussing the impact of the commentaries on our own views. (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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
This book examines how Western behavioral science--which has generally focused on negative aspects of human nature--holds up to cross-cultural scrutiny, in particular the Tibetan Buddhist celebration of the human potential for altruism, empathy, and compassion. Resulting from a meeting between the Dalai Lama, leading Western scholars, and a group of Tibetan monks, this volume includes excerpts from these extraordinary dialogues as well as engaging essays exploring points of difference and overlap between the two perspectives.
The De officiis of Ambrose of Milan (c. 339-397) is one of the most important texts of Latin Patristic literature. Modelled on the De Officiis of Cicero, it sets out Ambrose's ethical vision for his clergy, synthesizing ancient Stoic assumptions on virtue and expediency with Biblical patterns of humility, charity, and self-denial to present a paradigm of a church hierarchy capable of making the right impact on its social world. Ambrose aspires to demonstrate that the age of profound principles is (...) now available. -/- This new edition constitutes the first Modern English translation of Ambrose's Latin. The Text and Translation in Volume 1 are accompanied by a detailed Commentary (Volume 2) that concentrates on Ambrose's debts to Cicero and his attempts to renovate his philosophical inheritance. An extensive Introduction analyses his ethical ideals and sets them in their social context. (shrink)
The rubric “The Late Derrida,” with all puns and ambiguities cheerfully intended, points to the late work of Jacques Derrida, the vast outpouring of new writing by and about him in the period roughly from 1994 to 2004. In this period Derrida published more than he had produced during his entire career up to that point. At the same time, this volume deconstructs the whole question of lateness and the usefulness of periodization. It calls into question the “fact” of his (...) turn to politics, law, and ethics and highlights continuities throughout his oeuvre. The scholars included here write of their understandings of Derrida’s newest work and how it impacts their earlier understandings of such classic texts as Glas and Of Grammatology . Some have been closely associated with Derrida since the beginning—both in France and in the United States—but none are Derrideans. That is, this volume is a work of critique and a deep and continued engagement with the thought of one of the most significant philosophers of our time. It represents a recognition that Derrida’s work has yet to be addressed—and perhaps can never be addressed—in its totality. (shrink)
THE ECONOMICS OF TIME AND IGNORANCE by Gerald P. O'Driscoll, Jr. and Mario J. Rizzo New York: Basil Blackwell, 1985. 261pp., $34.95 O'Driscoll and Rizzo, two leading exponents of the Austrian subjectivist school of economics, claim to provide an original and powerful challenge to mainstream neoclassical economics. They also argue that there is much common ground between the Austrian approach and the recent development of Post Keynesian analysis. In this essay, the validity of such claims is analyzed, and the shortcomings (...) of the Austrian school's approach vis?à?vis Post Keynesian and neoclassical analysis is developed. (shrink)