I defend a perceptual account of face-to-face mindreading. I begin by proposing a phenomenological constraint on our visual awareness of others' emotional expressions. I argue that to meet this constraint we require a distinction between the basic and non-basic ways people, and other things, look. I offer and defend just such an account.
The authors in this collection pursue a number of questions concerning self-consciousness, self and consciousness. Although the essays range rather broadly, there is a good deal of unity. In her introduction Liu organises the chapters under three headings: the Humean denial of self-awareness, the issue of self-knowledge, and the nature of persons or selves. This is helpful although it is worth bearing in mind that some chapters fall under more than one heading (for example, Shoemaker) and some don't fall neatly (...) under any (for example, O'Brien). (shrink)
I discuss Husserl’s account of intersubjectivity in the fifth Cartesian Meditation. I focus on the problem of perceived similarity. I argue that recent work in developmental psychology and neuroscience, concerning intermodal representation and the mirror neuron system, fails to constitute a naturalistic solution to the problem. This can be seen via a comparison between the Husserlian project on the one hand and Molyneux’s Question on the other.
Our Own Minds presents an account of the nature and development of self-consciousness. Bogdan describes the mind of the infant as outward looking, turning in on itself only at a relatively late stage of development. This it does as a response to the increasingly sophisticated sociocultural pressures it faces throughout infancy and early childhood. The book is difficult to follow (about which, more later) but the main line of argument is this: to begin with, infants are attuned to their physical (...) and sociocultural environment, employing an early form of intuitive psychology, a practical capacity to interact with conspecifics, referred to by Bogdan as 'naïve psychology' (129). However, infants are faced with a series of sociocultural tasks (109-12), the implementation of which requires them to develop various executive capacities (105-9) which 'install' a form of self-consciousness, dubbed by Bogdan 'extrovert self-consciousness' (99-100). The increasingly demanding nature of these sociocultural tasks has the consequence that, around the age of 4, intuitive psychology undergoes a shift, becoming 'commonsense psychology' (129-30). This enables children to represent others' propositional attitudes and to think 'offline' (129-30). These new abilities and associated executive capacities, in their turn, 'install' a new form of self-consciousness, 'introvert self-consciousness' (159). Whilst the child's intuitive psychology and self-consciousness continue to develop until adolescence (33), this is where the book's central argument ends. (shrink)
The, so called, ‘conceptual problem of other minds’ has been articulated in a number of different ways. I discuss two, drawing out some constraints on an adequate account of the grasp of concepts of mental states. Distinguishing between behaviour-based and identity-based approaches to the problem, I argue that the former, exemplified by Brewer and Pickard, are incomplete as they presuppose, but do not provide an answer to, what I shall call the conceptual problem of other bodies. I end with some (...) remarks on identity-based approaches, pointing out related problems for versions of this approach held by Cassam and Peacocke. (shrink)
In its central use “phenomenology” names a movement in twentieth century philosophy. A second use of “phenomenology” common in contemporary philosophy names a property of some mental states, the property they have if and only if there is something it is like to be in them. Thus, it is sometimes said that emotional states have a phenomenology while belief states do not. For example, while there is something it is like to be angry, there is nothing it is like to (...) believe that Paris is in France. Although the two uses of “phenomenology” are related, it is the first which is the current topic. Accordingly, “phenomenological” refers to a way of doing philosophy that is more or less closely related to the corresponding movement. Phenomenology utilizes a distinctive method to study the structural features of experience and of things as experienced. It is primarily a descriptive discipline and is undertaken in a way that is largely independent of scientific, including causal, explanations and accounts of the nature of experience. Topics discussed within the phenomenological tradition include the nature of intentionality, perception, time-consciousness, self-consciousness, awareness of the body and consciousness of others. Phenomenology is to be distinguished from phenomenalism, a position in epistemology which implies that all statements about physical objects are synonymous with statements about persons having certain sensations or sense-data. George Berkeley was a phenomenalist but not a phenomenologist. -/- Although elements of the twentieth century phenomenological movement can be found in earlier philosophers—such as David Hume, Immanuel Kant and Franz Brentano—phenomenology as a philosophical movement really began with the work of Edmund Husserl. Following Husserl, phenomenology was adapted, broadened and extended by, amongst others, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Emmanuel Levinas and Jacques Derrida. Phenomenology has, at one time or another, been aligned with Kantian and post-Kantian transcendental philosophy, existentialism and the philosophy of mind and psychology. -/- This article introduces some of the central aspects of the phenomenological method and also concrete phenomenological analyses of some of the topics that have greatly exercised phenomenologists. (shrink)
The stated aim of Shaun Gallagher’s book is to provide, “an account of embodiment that is sufficiently detailed, and that is articulated in a vocabulary that can integrate discussions across the cognitive sciences...to remap the terrain that lies between phenomenology and cognitive neuroscience” (10). With this in mind, the book must be considered a success. The book provides a unified account of embodiment, and its relations to a number of aspects of experience, that is genuinely accessible from the perspectives of (...) the philosophy of mind, phenomenology, cognitive psychology, and neuroscience. The book is divided into two parts. The first presents an admirably lucid account of the different ways in which embodiment informs and structures experience. The second attempts to “extend the results of the scientific and phenomenological studies developed in the first part into various philosophical problem areas that border on the cognitive sciences.” (12). A large amount of the material that appears here has appeared, in some form or other, before. This is perhaps partly responsible for the feel, especially in the second part of the book, that we are being given a collection of essays on a loosely connected theme. However, this does not detract from its philosophical and scientific significance, and there is genuine value in having this impressive body of work to hand in a single book. It must be said that some chapters are more successful (for example, chapters 5 and 7 on gesture and on Molyneux’s Problem respectively) than others (for example, chapters 6 and 10 on perception and free will respectively), and some of them appear rather well distanced from the general picture of embodiment presented in the first part of the book (for example, chapter 9 on other minds). It also has to be admitted that the book’s primary strength, the vast and interdisciplinary range of resources under its command, occasionally becomes a weakness. This happens in chapter 8 where we are promised an exploration of, “a variety of issues that pertain to the structure of self-awareness and the capacity for self-reference...[demonstrating] just how complex and fragile these phenomena are.” (173). Yet what we get is an account of how thought insertion is explained by deficiencies in the temporal structure of experience. Whilst this is fascinating in its own right, and does speak, to a certain extent, to issues concerning self-awareness, the vexed issue of self-reference is not even mentioned again. Minor gripes aside, this book contains such an incredible wealth of information and argumentation that it must surely be considered required reading for anyone working on embodiment, embodied cognition and the philosophy of mind more generally. (shrink)
You and I are watching a spider crawl across the carpet. We are both aware of the spider, and aware that both are so aware. We are jointly attending to it. This collection of essays addresses a bewildering array of questions that arise regarding the notion of joint attention. How should joint attention be characterised in adults? In particular, how can we articulate the sense in which it is plausible to say that nothing is hidden from either participant in cases (...) of joint attention? What is the relationship between joint attention and the much discussed phenomenon of common, or mutual, knowledge? What account should be given of the development of the capacity for joint attention in children (and in non-human primates)? At what age is it correct to say that children are engaging in episodes of full blown joint attention? Relatedly, what is the relation between joint attention and pointing behaviour, gaze following and mutual affect regulation? Why is it that autistic children appear to exhibit a joint attention deficiency, and what might this tell us about autism, or about joint attention itself? Does the capacity for joint attention presuppose an understanding of the notion of attention, or more generally a subject of experience, and if so what is the relation between that understanding and the types of behaviour associated with joint attention? More generally, how does joint attention relate to our understanding of others? Finally, is the capacity for joint attention pivotal for the development of linguistic communication, or perhaps even a sense of objectivity—of the mind independence of the world? (shrink)
Common wisdom tells us that we have five senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. These senses provide us with a means of gaining information concerning objects in the world around us, including our own bodies. But in addition to these five senses, each of us is aware of our own body in way in which we are aware of no other thing. These ways include our awareness of the position, orientation, movement, and size of our limbs (proprioception and kinaesthesia), (...) our sense of balance, and our awareness of bodily sensations such as pains, tickles, and sensations of pressure or temperature. We can group these together under the title. (shrink)
A self-ascription is a thought or sentence in which a predicate is self-consciously ascribed to oneself. Self-ascriptions are best expressed using the first-person pronoun. Mental self-ascriptions are ascriptions to oneself of mental predicates (predicates that designate mental properties), non-mental self-ascriptions are ascriptions to oneself of non-mental predicates (predicates that designate non-mental properties). It is often claimed that there is a range of self-ascriptions that are immune to error through misidentification relative to the first-person pronoun (IEM for short). What this means, (...) and exactly which self-ascriptions are properly classed as IEM, is a topic hotly disputed. Some claim that only mental self-ascriptions are IEM, others claim that some non-mental self-ascriptions are IEM. Before this question can be decided, it needs to be judged exactly what it means to say that a self-ascription is IEM. And here we stumble across the fact that there are, at least, two non-equivalent ways of defining the phenomenon1. I will be claiming that one of these definitions should be rejected. (shrink)
_reduction in favour of his existentialist account of être au monde. I show that whilst Merleau-Ponty _ _rejected, what he saw as, the transcendental idealist context in which Husserl presents the _ _reduction, he nevertheless accepts the heart of it, the epoché, as a methodological principle. _ _Contrary to a number of Merleau-Ponty scholars, être au monde is perfectly compatible with the _ _epoché and Merleau-Ponty endorses both. I also argue that it is a mistake to think that Merleau-_ _Ponty’s (...) liberal use of the results of empirical psychology signify a rejection of the epoché. A proper _ _understanding of his views on the relation between phenomenology and psychology shows that, at _ _least in Merleau-Ponty’s eyes, the methods of phenomenology and the empirical sciences are _ _largely similar. I conclude that we have every reason to think that Merleau-Ponty accepted _ _Husserl’s demand that the phenomenologist place the world in brackets._. (shrink)
In this long and detailed book Bennett and Hacker set themselves two ambitious tasks. The first is to offer a philosophical critique of, what they argue are, philosophical confusions within contemporary cognitive neuroscience. The second is to present a ‘conceptual reference work for cognitive neuroscientists who wish to check the contour lines of the psychological concept relevant to their investigation’ (p.7). In the process they cover an astonishing amount of material. The first two chapters present a critical history of neuroscience (...) from Aristotle to Sherrington, Eccles and Penfield. Chapter three (to which I shall return), offers the philosophical basis for much of the book. Chapters four to twelve present detailed philosophical criticisms of a wide variety of neuroscientists (and some philosophers) on a large number of topics. These include: Crick, Damasio, Edelman, Marr and Frisby on perception (particularly the primary/secondary quality distinction and the binding problem); Milner, Squire and Kandel on memory; Blakemore and others on mental imagery; LaDoux and Damasio on the emotions; Libet on voluntary movement; and Baars, Crick, Edelman, Damasio, Penrose, Searle, Chalmers, and Nagel on consciousness (with a great deal on qualia and self-consciousness). Chapters thirteen and fourteen, along with the two appendices, contain an elaboration and defence of the book’s methodology and present explicit contrasts with the Churchlands, Dennett and Searle. Bennett and Hacker maintain that whilst neuroscientists have made significant discoveries concerning the workings of the brain, these discoveries have been obscured by their presentation within an incoherent conceptual framework. Their complaints, therefore, are often not with neuroscience itself but with what might be called its philosophical self image. (shrink)
Russell's Principle states that in order to think about an object I must know which thing it is, in the sense of being able to distinguish it from all other things. I show that, contra Strawson, Evans and Cassam, Russell's Principle cannot be applied to first-person thought so as to yield necessary conditions of self-consciousness. Footnotes1 Thanks to Naomi Eilan, Keith Hossack, Lucy O'Brien and Ann Whittle for helpful comments.
On hearing a sound behind me I may turn my head in order to see what is happening. This piece of behaviour is a deliberate action, one which feels to be under my own control. If asked what I am doing, I will be able to provide an immediate and knowledgeable answer, viz. 'turning my head' or maybe 'looking to see what is going on'. Not only do I know that an action is taking place, I know which action is (...) taking place, and I know who the agent of that action is. (shrink)
As so often with his published texts, the experience of reading Nietzsche’s notebooks is at once mesmerising and infuriating. One is in the presence of a thinker who, on the one hand, meditates deeply on fundamental issues in philosophy and psychology but who, on the other, refuses to be pinned down. The fact that Nietzsche’s style is so elusive can account for the enormously disparate interpretations of his work and it is no surprise that his notebooks have been read in (...) the most extreme fashion. The notebooks have a chequered history having been variously touted as the crowning achievement of his philosophy, and as not repaying the effort of reading. (shrink)
The Body Claim states that a transcendental condition of self-consciousness is that one experience oneself as embodied. The contention of this thesis is that popular arguments in support of the Body Claim are unconvincing. Understanding the Body Claim requires us to have a clear understanding of both self-consciousness and embodied experience. In the first chapter I lay out two different conceptions of self-consciousness, arguing that the proponent of the Body Claim should think of self-consciousness as first-person thought. I point out (...) that since arguments for the Body Claim tend to proceed by stating putative transcendental conditions on self-reference, the proponent of the Body Claim must maintain that there is a conceptual connection between self-consciousness and self-reference. In the second chapter I argue against views, originating from Wittgenstein and Anscombe, which reject this connection between self-consciousness and self-reference. In chapter three I show that a well known principle governing the ascription of content, that which Evans calls ‘Russell’s Principle’, occupies an ambiguous position with regards to the Body Claim. I argue that Russell’s Principle should be rejected. Chapter four distinguishes between two conceptions of embodied experience: bodily-awareness and bodily self-awareness. I argue that there is no such thing as bodily self-awareness and so it cannot be a transcendental condition of self-consciousness. Chapter five looks at, and finds wanting, arguments for the Body Claim that can be found in the work of Strawson. Chapter six argues that it is a transcendental condition of self-consciousness that one enjoy spatial experience. Chapters seven and eight assess two influential arguments that attempt to complete a defence of the Body Claim: the solidity argument and the action argument. I argue that neither argument is convincing. Although the conclusions are primarily negative, much is learned along the way about the nature of both self-consciousness and embodied experience. (shrink)
Abstract Shinran (1173?1263), the founder of the J?doshinsh? of Japanese Pure Land Buddhism, and S?ren Kierkegaard (1813?1855), the Danish father of Christian existentialism, belong to very different eras, cultures, and religious traditions. Yet there are striking similarities between their religious philosophies, especially in how both offer theistic views emphasising faith and grace that see the person as radically insufficient to attain complete self?transformation. Both claim that the human person is so radically insufficient that no one can attain Buddhist enlightenment or (...) Christian salvation through his or her own power, but only through divine power. I will argue against some commentators that although the Deity accepts and transforms this insufficiency, even the power of the Deity does not eradicate human insufficiency in this life for the person of faith. I will also argue that Shinran and Kierkegaard differ significantly about the role of human freedom in faith, and that this difference expresses the central difference between Mah?y?na Buddhism and Christianity regarding the relationship between the person and the Deity. (shrink)
This is a philosophical and historical investigation of the role of inconsistent representations of the same scientific phenomenon. The logical difficulties associated with the simultaneous application of inconsistent models are discussed. Internally inconsistent scientific proposals are characterized as structures whose application is necessarily tied to the confirming evidence that each of its components enjoys and to a vision of the general form of the theory that will resolve the inconsistency. Einstein's derivation of the black body radiation law is used as (...) an example application of such a strategy and is contrasted with planck's derivation. (shrink)
Inconsistent representations of the world have in fact played and should play a role in scientific inquiry. However, it would seem that logical analysis of such representations is blocked by the explosive nature of deductive inference from inconsistent premisses. "Paraconsistent logics" have been suggested as the proper way to remove this impediment and to make explication of the logic of inconsistent scientific theories possible. I argue that installing paraconsistent logic as the underlying logic for scientific inquiry is neither a necessary (...) nor a sufficient condition for giving a philosophical alternative, I suggest that identification of heuristic strategies, based on the network of confirming evidence for inconsistent proposals for reasoning from such proposals to their consistent replacements is the proper way to explicate their function in science. (shrink)