The paper points out that the modern formulation of Bohm’s quantum theory known as Bohmian mechanics is committed only to particles’ positions and a law of motion. We explain how this view can avoid the open questions that the traditional view faces according to which Bohm’s theory is committed to a wave-function that is a physical entity over and above the particles, although it is defined on configuration space instead of three-dimensional space. We then enquire into the status of the (...) law of motion, elaborating on how the main philosophical options to ground a law of motion, namely Humeanism and dispositionalism, can be applied to Bohmian mechanics. In conclusion, we sketch out how these options apply to primitive ontology approaches to quantum mechanics in general. (shrink)
This issue of Mélusine pursues the research initiated in 1982 on the surrealist book, without giving the last word on such a complex subject. Demonstrating erudition worthy of La Revue d'histoire littéraire de la France, the contributors propose new ideas and points of view. By the sheer abundance of technical terms, the articles would have astonished the avant-garde poets and artists in question, who were so very fond of entertainment. Some contributors examine the illustrated book, the artist's book and the (...) book-object in general as surrealist publications, while others focus on a single book or even on the non-book imagined by André Breton.In her introduction, editor Andrea Oberhuber describes the evolution of .. (shrink)
This paper deals with the rationalist assumptions behind researches of artificial intelligence (AI) on the basis of Hubert Dreyfus’s critique. Dreyfus is a leading American philosopher known for his rigorous critique on the underlying assumptions of the field of artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence specialists, especially those whose view is commonly dubbed as “classical AI,” assume that creating a thinking machine like the human brain is not a too far away project because they believe that human intelligence works on the (...) basis of formalized rules of logic. In contradistinction to classical AI specialists, Dreyfus contends that it is impossible to create intelligent computer programs analogous to the human brain because the workings of human intelligence is entirely different from that of computing machines. For Dreyfus, the human mind functions intuitively and not formally. Following Dreyfus, this paper aims to pinpointing the major flaws classical AI suffers from. The author of this paper believes that pinpointing these flaws would inform inquiries on and about artificial intelligence. Over and beyond this, this paper contributes something indisputably original. It strongly argues that classical AI research programs have, though inadvertently, falsified an entire epistemological enterprise of the rationalists not in theory as philosophers do but in practice. When AI workers were trying hard in order to produce a machine that can think like human minds, they have in a way been testing—and testing it up to the last point—the rationalist assumption that the workings of the human mind depend on logical rules. Result: No computers actually function like the human mind. Reason: the human mind does not depend on the formal or logical rules ascribed to computers. Thus, symbolic AI research has falsified the rationalist assumption that ‘the human mind reaches certainty by functioning formally’ by virtue of its failure to create a thinking machine. (shrink)
This paper tries to make clear what practical intelligibility is and how it is threatened at times of cultural breakdown or devastation. It argues that it is easy to overlook a breakdown in practical intelligibility because there is a tendency to frame the problems in terms of theoretical reason. Once one gets clear on what the threat to intelligibility is (and what it is not) one can see fairly straightforward ways to respond to the comments made by Dreyfus and Sherman.
Hubert Dreyfus has defended a novel view of agency, most notably in his debate with John McDowell. Dreyfus argues that expert actions are primarily unreflective and do not involve conceptual activity. In unreflective action, embodied know-how plays the role reflection and conceptuality play in the actions of novices. Dreyfus employs two arguments to support his conclusion: the argument from speed and the phenomenological argument. I argue that Dreyfus's argumentative strategies are not successful, since he relies on a dubious assumption (...) about concepts and reflection. I suggest that Dreyfus is committed to a minimal view of conceptuality in action. (shrink)
In recent years there has been growing attention paid to a kind of human action or activity which does not issue from a process of reflection and deliberation and which is described as, e.g., ‘engaged coping’, ‘unreflective action’, and ‘flow’. Hubert Dreyfus, one of its key proponents, has developed a phenomenology of expertise which he has applied to ethics in order to account for ‘everyday ongoing ethical coping’ or ‘ethical expertise’. This article addresses the shortcomings of this approach by (...) examining the pre-reflective ethical know-how individuals first develop and on which all later forms of ethical expertise are dependent. In the first section an account is given of the ‘ethical second nature’ which every individual develops from childhood onwards and which forms the basis of pre-reflective ethical know-how. The acquisition of an ethical second nature early on opens up the very domain of ‘the ethical’ for us in the first place and is constitutive of our sensitivity to it. The second section turns to pre-reflective ethical know-how and whether it is conceptual in nature. Just as sensorimotor understanding forms the basis of our reflective perceptual concepts, pre-reflective ethical know-how is similarly proto-conceptual and is the source of our reflective ethical and moral concepts. Finally, the third section examines the process whereby ethical second nature and pre-reflective ethical know-how are actually acquired, namely, through immersion in an ‘ethical world’. This world consists of both the web of ethical meanings and significances which has evolved in a particular society or community as well as its members whose actions and interactions continually reproduce that web. (shrink)
Rarely have I encountered a book like All Things Shining. It bravely engages issues that are truly significant for our time, yet flaws run through it like faults in the California landscape. The book has spawned contentious critique unusual for a work by contemporary philosophers. Before I offer my own critical analysis, it is fitting first to appreciate what Dreyfus and Kelly attempt to achieve.The foremost contemporary problems the authors combat are what they term "the burden of choice" and a (...) pervasive mood of nihilistic confusion. They believe the rationalistic and existential programs that are typically advocated in our secular age fail to offer persons convincing grounds for making sustainable decisions. .. (shrink)
I argue that Merleau-Ponty’s use of the case of Schneider in his arguments for the existence of non-conconceptual and non-representational motor intentionality contains a problematic methodological ambiguity. Motor intentionality is both to be revealed by its perspicuous preservation and by its contrastive impairment in one and the same case. To resolve the resulting contradiction I suggest we emphasize the second of Merleau-Ponty’s two lines of argument. I argue that this interpretation is the one in best accordance both with Merleau-Ponty’s general (...) methodology and with the empirical case of Schneider as it was described by Gelb and Goldstein. (shrink)
The paper argues that everyday ethical expertise requires an openness to an experience of self-doubt very different from that involved in becoming expert in other skills—namely, an experience of profound vulnerability to the Other similar to that which Emmanuel Levinas has described. Since the experience bears a striking resemblance to that of undergoing cross-examination by Socrates as depicted in Plato’s early dialogues, I illustrate it through a close reading of the Euthyphro, arguing that Euthyphro’s vaunted “expertise” conceals a reluctance to (...) submit himself to the basic process of self-redefinition that results from learning the limits of one’s knowledge. I show how the dialogue itself models the disruptive experience of selfquestioning that leads to moral maturity, providing further evidence that expertise has an important non-cognitive element, as well as casting doubt on the ethical value of seeking “definitions” of the virtues. (shrink)
Paul-Hubert Poirier | : Cet article inventorie les références à la νεῦσις, ou inclination, de l’âme dans le corpus des textes gnostiques de Nag Hammadi et dans le Berolinensis gnosticus 8502. | : This paper considers the attestations of the νεῦσις, or inclination, of the soul in the Gnostic Nag Hammadi corpus abd in the Berolinensis gnosticus 8502.
"There are many new secondary sources [on Foucault]. None surpass the book by Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow. . . . The American paperback edition contains Foucault's 'On the Genealogy of Ethics,' a lucid interview that is now our best source for seeing how he construed the whole project of the history of sexuality."--David Hoy, London Review of Books.
In previous work I urged that the perceptual experience we rational animals enjoy is informed by capacities that belong to our rationality, and - in passing - that something similar holds for our intentional action. In his Presidential Address, Hubert Dreyfus argued that I thereby embraced a myth, "the Myth of the Mental". According to Dreyfus, I cannot accommodate the phenomenology of unreflective bodily coping, and its importance as a background for the conceptual capacities exercised in reflective intellectual activity. (...) My paper responds to this accusation. Dreyfus misreads my invocation of Aristotle, and is thereby led to suppose, wrongly, that I conceive rationality as detached, brought to bear on practical predicaments from a standpoint other than one of immersion in them. I urge that even unreflective bodily coping, on the part of rational animals, is informed by their rationality. Dreyfus mentions Heidegger's distinction, which is picked up by Gadamer, between being oriented towards the world and merely inhabiting an environment. But he sets it aside, whereas it is crucial for the issue between us. Engaged bodily coping involves responsiveness to affordances, and responsiveness to affordances on the part of rational animals belongs to their relation to the world. I explain how the idea that conceptual capacities are actualized in our perceptual experience is connected with the thought that our perceptual experience opens us to the world. Finally, I suggest that the real myth in this area is the conception of rationality underlying Dreyfus's resistance to my picture. (shrink)
Can we accept John McDowell’s Kantian claim that perception is conceptual “all the way out,” thereby denying the more basic perceptual capacities we seem to share with prelinguistic infants and higher animals? More generally, can philosophers successfully describe the conceptual upper floors of the edifice of knowledge while ignoring the embodied coping going on on the ground floor? I argue that we shouldn’t leave the conceptual component of our lives hanging in midair and suggest how philosophers who want to understand (...) knowledge and action can profit from a phenomenological analysis of the nonconceptual embodied coping skills we share with animals and infants, as well as the nonconceptual immediate intuitive understanding exhibited by experts. (shrink)
Existential phenomenologists hold that the two most basic forms of intelligent behavior, learning, and skillful action, can be described and explained without recourse to mind or brain representations. This claim is expressed in two central notions in Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception: the intentional arc and the tendency to achieve a maximal grip. The intentional arc names the tight connection between body and world, such that, as the active body acquires skills, those skills are stored, not as representations in the mind, (...) but as dispositions to respond to the solicitations of situations in the world. A phenomenology of skill acquisition confirms that, as one acquires expertise, the acquired know-how is experienced as finer and finer discriminations of situations paired with the appropriate response to each. Maximal grip names the body's tendency to refine its responses so as to bring the current situation closer to an optimal gestalt. Thus, successful learning and action do not require propositional mental representations. They do not require semantically interpretable brain representations either.Simulated neural networks exhibit crucial structural features of the intentional arc, and Walter Freeman's account of the brain dynamics underlying perception and action is structurally isomorphic with Merleau-Ponty's account of the way a skilled agent is led by the situation to move towards obtaining a maximal grip. (shrink)
of autonomous agency. Yet neither denies the importance of human freedom. In Heidegger's early work the subject is reinterpreted as Dasein -- a non autonomous, culturally bound (or thrown) way of being, that can yet change the field of possibilities in which it acts. In middle Heidegger, thinkers alone have the power to disclose a new world, while in later Heidegger, anyone is free to step back from the current world, to enter one of a plurality of worlds, and, thereby, (...) facilitate a change in the practices of one's society. Likewise, for early Foucault, the subject is reduced to a function of discourse; for middle Foucault, writing can open up new worlds, and in later Foucault, freedom is understood as the power to question what is currently taken for granted, plus the capacity to change oneself and, perhaps, one's milieu. In short, while both Heidegger and Foucault reject the Enlightenment idea of an autonomous subject, they have a robust notion of freedom and action. And it will turn out for both thinkers that each person can modify his or her cultural practices by openness to embeddedness in them. All this needs a great deal of explanation. We need to determine, on the one hand, just what each rejects and why, and, on the other, what series of understandings of the self and its possibilities for action each introduces. (shrink)
The Phenomenological Mind, by Shaun Gallagher and Dan Zahavi, is part of a recent initiative to show that phenomenology, classically conceived as the tradition inaugurated by Edmund Husserl and not as mere introspection, contributes something important to cognitive science. (For other examples, see “References” below.) Phenomenology, of course, has been a part of cognitive science for a long time. It implicitly informs the works of Andy Clark (e.g. 1997) and John Haugeland (e.g. 1998), and Hubert Dreyfus explicitly uses it (...) (e.g. 1992). But where the former use phenomenology in the background as broad context and Dreyfus uses it primarily (though not exclusively) as a critique of conventional AI, Gallagher and Zahavi wish to indicate a positive and constructive place for it within cognitive science. They do not recommend that we simply accept pronouncements of thinkers like Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre and Merleau‐Ponty and apply them to questions of cognition, but that we use revised forms of phenomenology to illuminate dimensions of cognitive experience that are missing in current research. The book is presented as an “introduction to philosophy of mind and cognitive science” written from a phenomenological perspective. It seeks to justify the use of phenomenology in cognitive science by showing what kinds of questions it asks and answers, the variety of uses to which it has recently been put and the fruitfulness of some of its findings. The catalog of topics, for the most part, matches other introductions to the philosophy of mind, such as questions of method, consciousness, perception, intentionality, embodiment, action, agency and other minds. One issue presented here that is not generally dealt with in existing philosophy of mind and cognitive science texts is temporality, a mainstay of the continental tradition. After an introductory chapter that places phenomenology in the context of other approaches, the book lays out the main tenets of phenomenological method. Here, one encounters expected components of phenomenology: the epoché (described below), phenomenological reduction, eidetic variation, and so on. This traditional fare is soon followed by some potential surprises, namely, attempts to “naturalize” phenomenology, a few attempts to formalize it, and the emergence of ‘neurophenomenology’. Each of these is a bit surprising because Husserl was a vocal critic of naturalism, seeing transcendental phenomenology as an alternative to the empirical study of consciousness. He was also skeptical about the possibilities of mathematizing phenomenology. Gallagher and Zahavi acknowledge these points, but since they are not repeating history or undertaking exegesis, strict adherence to canonical phenomenology is not required. Naturalizing phenomenology means recognizing that “the phenomena it studies are part of nature and are therefore also open to empirical investigation” (p.. (shrink)
McDowell's claim that "in mature human beings, embodied coping is permeated with mindedness",1 suggests a new version of the mentalist myth which, like the others, is untrue to the phenomenon. The phenomena show that embodied skills, when we are fully absorbed in enacting them, have a kind of non-mental content that is non-conceptual, non-propositional, non-rational and non-linguistic. This is not to deny that we can monitor our activity while performing it. For solving problems, learning a new skill, receiving coaching, and (...) so forth, such monitoring is invaluable. But monitoring what we are doing as we are doing it degrades performance to at best competence. On McDowell's view, there is no way to account for such a degradation in performance since the same sort of content would be involved whether we were fully absorbed in or paying attention to what we were doing. McDowell claims that it is an advantage of his conceptualism that it avoids any foundationalist attempt to build up the objective world on the basis of an indubitable Given or any other ground-floor experience. And, indeed, if the world is all that is the case and our minds are unproblematically open to it, all experience is on the same footing. But one must distinguish motor intentionality, and the interrelated solicitations our coping body is intertwined with, from conceptual intentionality and the world of propositional structures it opens onto. The existential phenomenologist can then agree with McDowell in rejecting traditional foundationalisms, while yet affirming and describing the ground-floor role of motor intentionality in providing the support on which all forms of conceptual intentionality are based. (shrink)
Back in 1950, while a physics major at Harvard, I wandered into C.I. Lewis’s epistemology course. There, Lewis was confidently expounding the need for an indubitable Given to ground knowledge, and he was explaining where that ground was to be found. I was so impressed that I immediately switched majors from ungrounded physics to grounded philosophy.
Actual AI research began auspiciously around 1955 with Allen Newell and Herbert Simon's work at the RAND Corporation. Newell and Simon proved that computers could do more than calculate. They demonstrated that computers were physical symbol systems whose symbols could be made to stand for anything, including features of the real world, and whose programs could be used as rules for relating these features. In this way computers could be used to simulate certain important aspects intelligence. Thus the information-processing model (...) of the mind was born. But, looking back over these fifty years, it seems that theoretical AI with its promise of a robot like HAL appears to be a perfect example of what Imre Lakatos has called a "degenerating research program". (shrink)
being, culminating in the technological understanding of being, in order to help us understand and overcome our current way of dealing with things as objects and resources, Foucault analyzes several regimes of power, culminating in modern bio-power, in order to help us free ourselves from understanding ourselves as subjects.
Our everyday activities unfold in situations that offer a multiplicity of possibilities for action. While typing this text, the apple on the right side of my laptop affords eating, my e-mail checking, and the glass of water drinking from it. Every now and then I unreflectively switch from typing to eating or drinking and back to typing again. A relevant possibility for action is embedded in a field of other soliciting possibilities for action (Rietveld, 2008). Michael Wheeler and Hubert (...) Dreyfus have an interesting debate on the important issue of cognition in context. They both take a naturalistic and broadly Heideggerian approach to the problem of adequate sensitivity to context-dependent relevance (the frame-problem). Their debate focuses on such sensitivity in episodes of online intelligence (Wheeler, 2005, p. 252, p. 280), typing for instance. They agree that a central phenomenon to be understood is how one switches from one context to another by being responsive to what is relevant in a given situation. I use this latter agreement as a starting point for a new perspective on online intelligence. (shrink)