Many philosophers of science believe that empirical psychology can contribute little to the philosophical investigation of explanations. They take this to be shown by the fact that certain explanations fail to elicit any relevant psychological events (e.g., familiarity, insight, intelligibility, etc.). We report results from a study suggesting that, at least among those with extensive science training, a capacity to render an event intelligible is considered a requirement for explanation. We also investigate for whom explanations must be capable of (...) rendering events intelligible and whether or not accuracy is also viewed as a requirement. (shrink)
A common argumentative strategy employed by anti-reductionists involves claiming that one kind of entity cannot be identified with or reduced to a second because what can intelligibly be predicated of one cannot be predicated intelligibly of the other. For instance, it might be argued that mind and brain are not identical because it makes sense to say that minds are rational but it does not make sense to say that brains are rational. The scope and power of this kind of (...) argument â if valid â are obvious; but if it turns out that âIt makes sense to say that...â creates an opaque context, such arguments will fail. I analyze a possible counterexample to validity and show that it is not conclusive, as it depends on what syntactical construction is given to the premises. This leads to the general observation that the argument form under consideration works for some constructions but not others, and thus to the conclusion that further analysis of intelligibility is called for before it can be known whether the argumentative strategy is open to the anti-reductionist or not. (shrink)
David Carr argues that the intelligibility of spiritual development as an educational activity is dependent upon there being a framework of propositions that relates to spiritual experience and that there is a methodology for establishing their truth. These propositions and the accompanying methodology need to be constructed along the lines of a traditional but re-worked form of religious education. Michael Hand argues to the contrary that there can be no methodology for the evaluation of the truth claims in relation (...) to 'spiritual'propositions since they invariably psychologically, if not logically, involve reference to a transcendental being and are therefore seen as substantially matters of faith. Since the presentation of faith-based propositional knowledge is inappropriate to the secular school, the only route for spiritual education is in terms of those emotional qualities that we identify with the human 'spirit', that is, generosity, magnanimity, good heartedness, etc. In this paper it is argued that neither position is satisfactory in addressing the existential anxieties and tensions that underlie the construction of religious and other spiritually relevant forms of articulation. We do not need Carr's 'true' spiritual propositions. Analysis of spiritual discourses can take the same epistemological form as enquiry in arts criticism, one that recognises the elasticity of its propositions in terms of meaning and a fluidity in terms of its boundaries. The 'truth' of such propositions depends upon how they answer to the existential tensions felt by the pupil. Insofar as Hand's analysis is concerned, to reduce spiritual education to a form of emotional and social development neglects the clear intelligibility of spiritual discourse to the religious and non-religious minded alike. The unifying element in spiritual discourse is those existential questions that lie at its foundations. Spiritual education seeks to address these questions as ones of both passion and intelligibility, helping pupils to make choices in light of their own experience of the tensions and anxieties that are embedded within them. (shrink)
Recent hypotheses on the potential role of neuronal oscillations in speech perception propose that speech is processed on multi-scale temporal analysis windows formed by a cascade of neuronal oscillators locked to the input pseudo-rhythm. In particular, Ghitza (2011) proposed that the oscillators are in the theta, beta and gamma frequency bands with the theta oscillator the master, tracking the input syllabic rhythm and setting a time-varying, hierarchical window structure synchronized with the input. In the study described here the hypothesized role (...) of theta was examined by measuring the intelligibility of speech with a manipulated modulation spectrum. Each critical-band signal was manipulated by controlling the degree of temporal-envelope flatness. Intelligibility of speech with critical-band envelopes that are flat is poor; inserting extra information, restricted to the input syllabic rhythm, markedly improves intelligibility. It is concluded that flattening the critical-band envelopes prevents the theta oscillator from tracking the input rhythm, hence the disruption of the hierarchical window structure that controls the decoding process. Reinstating the input-rhythm information revives the tracking capability, hence restoring the synchronization between the window structure and the input, resulting in the extraction of additional information from the flat modulation spectrum. (shrink)
I do not for a moment question the fact that many people have experiences of a special type which may be termed “religious”, The extent to which religious experience may be regarded as a reasonably common phenomenon in present-day Britain is shown clearly by David Hay in his Exploring Inner Space, Harmondsworth 1982. that such experiences often involve reference to something which appears to display a radical unlikeness to all else and that they are therefore in some sense inexpressible. Doubtless (...) the ideas I have put forward about the possible source of such unlikeness and ineffability might suggest models of God which would not find much theological approval, at least within any mainstream theistic tradition, since some sort of pantheism seems inevitably to be implied. But however this might be, the concept of radical unlikeness as it has been analyzed here can, I think, help us towards understanding certain problematic areas in religion quite apart from the issue of intelligibility, which has been the focus of this discussion. To begin with, radical unlikeness suggests a way in which the historical continuity of concepts of the transcendent might be upheld against the discontinuity suggested by the diversity of interpretations through which they have moved. Ancient and modern outlooks on, say, God differ enormously, as indeed do the range of co-temporal accounts at many particular moments. But, by and large, theologians firmly maintain that it is a single and unchanging phenomenon which is being dealt with. Unless we can point to some common element which is both specific enough to create a binding sense of common tradition, yet never completely expressed by any attempt at understanding it within that tradition (thus persistently demanding new attempts to apprehend it), then given the widely differing views of God within, for example, the Christian community, it is difficult to see how we could assume that in fact they all stemmed from the same source and were talking about the same thing. The idea of radical unlikeness could provide an element with just these required characteristics: it could be seen as what all the accounts attempt to net, with varying degrees of adequacy, within their offered interpretations. It could be seen as what remains constant, constantly elusive yet constantly generative of fresh attempts to apprehend it, throughout a history of intra-religious diversity. This sort of explanation could, presumably, be applied to the intra-religious diversity of the non-Christian traditions too.Secondly, radical unlikeness might suggest a possible way of understanding inter-religious diversity in a way which allows that whilst such diversity exists, whilst the differences between religions are real, they are grounded in a similar root-experience. It may, at first sight, seem difficult to continue thinking of the various religious traditions as truly separate phenomena if they are taken as being grounded on experiences whose ineffability stems from the unlikeness of experiencing things as a whole. Here we must stress again that if they are to be considered intelligible, radically unlike experiences cannot be considered completely so - or putting this another way, we cannot more than approach experience of totality. Sense can be given to religious claims of ineffability by suggesting experience of near totality, where we reach the last point on the scale of inclusiveness which complies with the logical criteria demanded of something for it to be possible for us to be aware of it. We might thus attempt an explanation of inter-religious diversity based on the view that Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam etc. acquire their differences from the different elements included in their experience of near totality. Taking totality to be represented by the scale of one to ten, Hinduism might be seen as grounded on experience of 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-9-10, Buddhism on experience of 1-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 and so on. The resulting dissimilarities are thus centred not on different types of experience, but on different areas of inclusiveness. This is, of course, to suppose that the various religious traditions are all based on the same degree (as opposed to the same elements) of inclusiveness, but it is by no means clear that such a supposition is justified. Continuing with our decimal analogy, might it not be suggested that whilst Christianity stemmed from experience of 2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10, Jainism was founded on a less extensive encounter with the divine (say 4-5-6-7-8-9-10)? It is, however, uncertain how we can compare and evaluate different religious traditions in such a way as to be able to comment on such claims. A definite danger of comparative religion is that by concentrating on establishing and exploring inter-religious likenesses, it may obscure the radical unlikeness of religious phenomena. It should be borne firmly in mind that such likenesses as may be established within comparative studies may not win religious phenomena a place within our understanding comparable to objects of more everyday concern. Statements found in the Old Testament, the Qur'an and the Vedas, for example, may, on occasion, be alike, but at the end of the day such things are often alike only, or chiefly, in so far as they display the same radical unlikeness in relation to the non-religious elements in our outlook.The analysis of radical unlikeness and ineffability which has been advanced might also suggest a way in which certain passages in religious writings could be understood, passages which at first sight can be seriously perplexing. If, for example, to return to the quotation given in the introductory section of this paper, we continue to think of accounts of the nature of Shiva as being attempts to describe some discrete, objective entity, then it is inevitable that either we will share the Puranic writer's puzzlement or that much of what we read about Shiva will appear as the muddled and extravagant thinking thrown up by an uncritical and over-fertile mythological imagination, consisting of little more than a hotch-potch of contradictory elements. But if we see such accounts as attempting to say something about everything, as symbols of near totality stemming from experiences which verge on the holistic, then what we read - with all its ambiguities - may become somewhat more meaningful. Thus W.D. O'Flaherty comments that Shiva “embodies all of life in all its detail at every minute” (Asceticism and Eroticism in the Mythology of Shiva, London 1973, p. 315). Similarly Alain Dani41ou sees Shiva, ultimately, in terms of his being "the supreme state of reality" beyond whom there is only "non-existence" (Hindu Polytheism, London 1964, p. 190).This analysis of ineffability and intelligibility seeks to introduce for debate a possible way of understanding the radical unlikeness which accounts of religious experience apparently attempt to speak about. It does not, however, claim to present an exhaustive treatment of the issues raised, on the contrary, I am conscious of many shortcomings and omissions. For instance, it remains to be seen under precisely what conditions something counts as being an elucidating likeness (presumably all experiences are, for example, temporal, yet temporality alone would not seem to offer a particularly elucidating comparison). Moreover, the degree to which appeal to likeness is allowed operation in actual accounts of religious experience needs to be explored. In addition, the notion of categorizing experiences according to the extent to which they approach a point of total inclusion requires careful clarification. To begin with, according to what criteria could we establish that one experience was more inclusive than another? However, such issues can only be mentioned here, any adequate consideration of them would require a separate paper.In conclusion, I would suggest that to use radical unlikeness and/or ineffability simply as devices by which to halt any process of investigation, proclaiming that the thing in question is not like anything and so is beyond all words, risks making unintelligible and placing beyond all further inquiry an important and extensive area of human experience. As William Alston put it, to label something ineffable in an unqualified way is to shirk the job of making explicit the ways in which it can be talked about. William P. Alston, “ineffability”, Philosophical Review 65 (1956), 522. It is surely more accurate to take ineffability as a “qualifier”I.T. Ramsey, Models and Mystery (Oxford 1964), p. 60. which “multiplies models without end”Ibid. than as an absolute which prevents the construction of any elucidating models. (shrink)
Throughout the history of the Western world, science has possessed an extraordinary amount of authority and prestige. And while its pedestal has been jostled by numerous evolutions and revolutions, science has always managed to maintain its stronghold as the knowing enterprise that explains how the natural world works: we treat such legendary scientists as Galileo, Newton, Darwin, and Einstein with admiration and reverence because they offer profound and sustaining insight into the meaning of the universe. In The Intelligibility of (...) Nature , Peter Dear considers how science as such has evolved and how it has marshaled itself to make sense of the world. His intellectual journey begins with a crucial observation: that the enterprise of science is, and has been, directed toward two distinct but frequently conflated ends—doing and knowing. The ancient Greeks developed this distinction of value between craft on the one hand and understanding on the other, and according to Dear, that distinction has survived to shape attitudes toward science ever since. Teasing out this tension between doing and knowing during key episodes in the history of science—mechanical philosophy and Newtonian gravitation, elective affinities and the chemical revolution, enlightened natural history and taxonomy, evolutionary biology, the dynamical theory of electromagnetism, and quantum theory—Dear reveals how the two principles became formalized into a single enterprise, science, that would be carried out by a new kind of person, the scientist. Finely nuanced and elegantly conceived, The Intelligibility of Nature will be essential reading for aficionados and historians of science alike. (shrink)
The intelligibility of change in Descartes Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9494-0 Authors Michael Della Rocca, Department of Philosophy, Yale University, P.O. Box 208306, New Haven, CT 06520-8306, USA Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
Wittgensteinian readings of Being and Time, and of the source of the intelligibility of Dasein''s world, in terms of language and the average everyday public practices of das Man are partly right and partly wrong. They are right in correcting overly individualist and existentialist readings of Heidegger. But they are wrong in making Heidegger into a proponent of language or everydayness as the final word on intelligibility and the way the world is disclosed to us. The everydayness of (...) das Man and language are partial sources of intelligibility but only insofar as they are comprehended within the greater unitary structure of care and temporality. Care and temporality constitute the foundational underpinnings for disclosure and the intelligibility ofthat wherein Dasein dwells. (shrink)
Hume, in "An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding", holds (1) that all causal reasoning is based on experience and (2) that causal reasoning is based on nothing but experience. (1) does not imply (2), and Hume's good reasons for (1) are not good reasons for (2). This essay accepts (1) and argues against (2). A priori reasoning plays a role in causal inference. Familiar examples from Hume and from classroom examples of sudden disappearances and radical changes do not show otherwise. A (...) priori causal reasoning is closely related to understanding causal mechanisms. One uncovers the intelligibility of a causal process by understanding its mechanism. (shrink)
This paper examines the role of Habermas's concept of the lifeworld in processes of reaching mutual understanding. This concept is shown to be ultimately too amorphous to bear the theoretical weight Habermas places on it. He conceives the lifeworld both as diffuse and holistic, yet also as structured; as a set of taken-for-granted and counterfactual presuppositions, yet also as a kind of knowledge. In the end, he presupposes what the lifeworld is supposed to explain: mutual intelligibility of subjects in (...) interaction. These conceptual tensions affect the explanatory power of the lifeworld and the usefulness of the theory of communicative action for conflict resolution. Where conflict resolution is aimed at mediating radical disagreements with minimal concord between parties, presuming consensus may not be possible or optimal. The present analysis argues for the need to develop other means of establishing a sufficient level of background consensus against which communicative action can take place. (shrink)
It is shown how the development of physics has involved making explicit what were homocentric projections which had heretofore been implicit, indeed inexpressible in theory. This is shown to support a particular notion of the invariant as the real. On this basis the divergence in ideals of physical intelligibility between Bohr and Einstein is set out. This in turn leads to divergent, but explicit, conceptions of objectivity and completeness for physical theory. *I am indebted to Dr. G. McLelland. Professor (...) F. Rohrlich and an anonymous referee of this journal for several improvements in the formulation of the paper. (shrink)
This paper argues that spacetime visualisability is not a necessary condition for the intelligibility of theories in physics. Visualisation can be an important tool for rendering a theory intelligible, but it is by no means a sine qua non. The paper examines the historical transition from classical to quantum physics, and analyses the role of visualisability (Anschaulichkeit) and its relation to intelligibility. On the basis of this historical analysis, an alternative conception of the intelligibility of scientific theories (...) is proposed, based on Heisenberg's reinterpretation of the notion of Anschaulichkeit. (shrink)
Abstract The focal point of this analysis of moral agency in contexts of oppression is a case study involving unintelligibility between two women who identify differently with respect to sexual preference. At issue is the moral learning they accomplish as they work toward intelligibility across difference. A conceptual analysis of intelligibility demonstrates its similarity to an ethics of care, although increased sensitivity to political relations is emphasised. The moral learning that takes place as intelligibility is generated is (...) described with respect to: engagement, decentred perception and ?coalition work?. Consideration of the ways such moral learning is relevant to moral educators is presented with reference to a reading of Elizabeth Ellsworth's 1994 paper, ?Why doesn't this feel empowering? Working through the repressive myths of critical pedagogy? (shrink)
In such works as A Short History of Ethics, Against the Self-lmages of the Age, and After Virtue, Alasdair MacIntyre has argued that the intelligibility of the moral life hinges upon viewing the moral life as essential to the happy life, or eudaimonia. In my article I examine the reasons he gives for saying this, arguing that this thesis is not sufficiently defended by MacIntyre. I also draw connections between this thesis about the intelligibility of the moral life (...) and other aspects of MacIntyre’s thought, such as his communitarianism. In concluding I note that several of MacIntyre’s more significant claims about morality might well be true even if his thesis about the intelligibility of the moral life is false. (shrink)
A new collection of pseudo-words was recorded from a single female speaker of American English for use in multi-talker speech intelligibility research. The pseudo-words (known as the PARG collection) consist of three groups of single syllable pseudo-words varying only by the initial phoneme. The PARG method allows speech intelligibility to be studied free of the influence of shifts of spatial attention from one loudspeaker location to another in multi-talker contexts. To achieve this, all PARG pseudo-words share the same (...) concluding rimes, with only the first phoneme serving as a distinguishing identifier. This ensures that listeners are unable to correctly identify the target pseudo-word without hearing the initial phoneme. As the duration of all the initial phonemes are brief, much shorter than the time required to spatially shift attention, the PARG method assesses speech intelligibility without the confound of shifting spatial attention. The PARG collection is available free for research purposes. (shrink)
The architectonic principle, as stated in Aristotle's Politics, is related to the arrangement of the arts, the technai, whereby it is argued that the leading art is the politike techne. Plato, in the Gorgias, has argued for an architectonic of crafts. Four technai provide the best, aei pros to beltiston therapeuousai, and they differ from the pseudo-crafts that offer pleasure while indifferent to the beltiston. The principle for arranging the architectonic is the pursuit of the best, whereby each practitioner of (...) a craft is expected to give logos concerning the "how" as well as the end of the craft. Extending the Platonic principle, Aristotle brings together under a unified theory the intelligibility of nature and human nature in line with the ends of episteme and techne, especially the politike techne. (shrink)
The computational hypothesis was formulated with due concern for limits and is consistent with imposed intelligibility doctrines. Theories are products of scientific work that impose human classifications and formalisms on nature. The claim that “cognitive agents are dynamical systems” is untenable. Dynamical formalisms imposed on a natural system, given an approximate fit, serve as an explanatory framework and render a represented system predictable and intelligible.
After discussing de Sousa's view of emotion in akrasia, I suggest that emotions be viewed as nonconceptual perceptions of value (see Tappolet 2000). It follows that they can render intelligible actions which are contrary to one's better judgment. An emotion can make one's action intelligible even when that action is opposed by one's all-things-considered judgment. Moreover, an akratic action prompted by an emotion may be more rational than following one's better judgement, for it may be the judgement and not the (...) perception which is in error. By contrast, "cool" akrasia is genuinely puzzling; it is not clear whether it exists. (shrink)
Popular Frankfurt-style theories of autonomy hold that (i) autonomy is motivation in action by psychological attitudes that have ‘authority’ to constitute the agent's perspective, and (ii) attitudes have this authority in virtue of their formal role in the individual's psychological system, rather than their substantive content. I pose a challenge to such ‘psychologistic’ views, taking Frankfurt's and Bratman's theories as my targets. I argue that motivation by attitudes that play the roles picked out by psychologistic theories is compatible with radically (...) unintelligible behavior. Because of this, psychologistic views are committed to classifying certain agents as ‘autonomous’ whom we intuitively find to be dysfunctional. I then argue that a necessary condition for autonomy is that an agent's behavior is intelligible in a particular way: autonomy necessarily involves acting from a subjective practical perspective that is, in principle, minimally comprehensible to others – not simply in a causal sense, but in a substantive, socio-cultural sense. (shrink)
Robust realism is defended by developing further the account in Inquiry 42 (1999), pp. 49-78 of how human beings make things and people intelligible. Incommensurate worlds imply a violation of the principle of noncontradiction, but this violation does not have the consequences normally feared. Given our capacities to make things intelligible, some things, like human action, are most intelligible when they are understood as contradictory (e.g. free and determined). Things-in-themselves need not have contradictory features for multiple orders of nature to (...) make sense. We can coherently suppose that both Western and Chinese science give two incommensurable and complete accounts of the functioning of the human body. Since things do not have contradictory properties, we would then have to suppose that, in the case of bodies, there are two independent functional orders. If this can be true for bodies, it can be true for the orders of nature as a whole. John Haugeland's account of systems and interfaces shows us how to make sense of necessary functional components of the universe. Finally, multiple realism makes more sense than Rorty's deflationary pragmatism because it explains how things can matter. (shrink)
Some legal theorists deny that states can conceivably act extra-legally, in the sense of acting contrary to domestic law. This position finds its most robust articulation in the writings of Hans Kelsen, and has more recently been taken up by David Dyzenhaus in the context of his work on emergencies and legality. This paper seeks to demystify their arguments and, ultimately, contend that we can intelligibly speak of the state as a legal wrongdoer or a legally unauthorized actor.
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. (shrink)
Beginning with Descartes' caution not “imprudently” to “take some other object in place of myself”, I consider first the problems of self-identification confronted by various amnesiacs , both ordinary and Cartesian. Noting that cogitationes as such do not individuate, I proceed to examine conclusions drawn from certain sorts of “body-switching” thought experiments. This, in turn, gives rise to a general critique of “psychological connectedness” or “unity of consciousness” as a candidate criterion of personal identity. I conclude that our ability to (...) apply any notion of personal identity is parasitic upon the existence of a conceptual apparatus for individuating, identifying, and reidentifying objects. Finally, I argue that, if ‘person’ is a proper sortal predicate to begin with, Descartes' res cogitans cannot be understood as a species of the (metaphysical) genus res , distinct from res extensa and only problematically in “interaction” with it. Cartesian dualism is a multiply untenable doctrine. (shrink)
This paper concerns a prima facie tension between the claims that (a) agents have normative reasons obtaining in virtue of the nature of the options that confront them, and (b) there is a non-trivial connection between the grounds of normative reasons and the upshots of sound practical reasoning. Joint commitment to these claims is shown to give rise to a dilemma. I argue that the dilemma is avoidable on a response dependent account of normative reasons accommodating both (a) and (b) (...) by yielding (a) as a substantial constraint on sound practical reasoning. This fact is shown to have significance for the contemporary dialectic between moral realists and their opponents. (shrink)
The possible role of language in intermodular communication and non-domain-specific thinking is an empirical issue that is independent of the “vehicle” claim that natural language is “constitutive” of some thoughts. Despite noting objections to various forms of the thesis that we think in language, Carruthers entirely neglects a potentially fatal objection to his own preferred version of this “cognitive conception.”.