In the present article we discuss the relevance of the mirrormechanism for our sense of self and our sense of others. We argue that, by providing us with an understanding from the inside of actions, the mirrormechanism radically challenges the traditional view of the self and of the others. Indeed, this mechanism not only reveals the common ground on the basis of which we become aware of ourselves as selves distinct from other selves, (...) but also sheds new light on the content of our self and other experience, showing that we primarily experience ourselves and the others in terms of our own and of their motor possibilities respectively. -/- . (shrink)
The aim of our paper is to show that there is a sense of body that is enactive in nature and that enables to capture the most primitive sense of self. We will argue that the body is primarily given to us as source or power for action, i.e., as the variety of motor potentialities that define the horizon of the world in which we live, by populating it with things at hand to which we can be directed and with (...) other bodies we can interact with. We will show that this sense of body as bodily self is, on the one hand, antecedent the distinction between sense of agency and sense of ownership, and, on the other, it enables and refines such distinction, providing a conceptual framework for the coherent interpretation of a variety of behavioral and neuropsychological data. We will conclude by positing that the basic experiences we entertain of our selves as bodily selves are from the very beginning driven by our interactions with other bodies as they are underpinned by the mirrormechanism. (shrink)
de Bruin & Gallagher (2012) suggest that the view of embodied simulation (ES) put forward in our recent article (Gallese and Sinigaglia 2011) lacks explanatory power. We argue that the notion of reuse of mental states represented with a bodily format provides a convincing simulational account of the mirroring mechanism (MM) and its role in mind-reading.
When witnessing someone else's action people often take advantage of the same motor cognition that is crucial to successfully perform that action themselves. But how deeply is motor cognition involved in understanding another's action? Can it be selectively modulated by either the agent's or the witness's being actually in the position to act? If this is the case, what does such modulation imply for one's making sense of others? The paper aims to tackle these issues by introducing and discussing a (...) series of experimental studies showing how body and space may constrain one's own motor cognition reuse in understanding another's action. These findings, I shall argue, may shed new light on the mechanisms underlying the primary ways of identifying ourselves with other people and of being connected to them . (shrink)
When witnessing someone else's action people often take advantage of the same motor cognition that is crucial to successfully perform that action themselves. But how deeply is motor cognition involved in understanding another's action? Can it be selectively modulated by either the agent's or the witness's being actually in the position to act? If this is the case, what does such modulation imply for one's making sense of others? The paper aims to tackle these issues by introducing and discussing a (...) series of experimental studies showing how body and space may constrain one's own motor cognition reuse in understanding another's action. These findings, I shall argue, may shed new light on the mechanisms underlying the primary ways of identifying ourselves with other people and of being connected to them. (shrink)
Single cell recordings in monkeys provide strong evidence for an important role of the motor system in action understanding. This evidence is backed up by data from studies of the (human) mirror neuron system using neuroimaging or TMS techniques, and behavioral experiments. Although the data acquired from single cell recordings are generally considered to be robust, several debates have shown that the interpretation of these data is far from straightforward. We will show that research based on single-cell recordings allows (...) for unlimited content attribution to mirror neurons. We will argue that a theoretical analysis of the mirroring process, combined with behavioral and brain studies, can provide the necessary limitations. A complexity analysis of the type of processing attributed to the mirror neuron system can help formulate restrictions on what mirroring is and what cognitive functions could, in principle, be explained by a mirrormechanism. We argue that processing at higher levels of abstraction needs assistance of non-mirroring processes to such an extent that subsuming the processes needed to infer goals from actions under the label ?mirroring? is not warranted. (shrink)
The mechanism by which humans perceive others differs greatly from how humans perceive inanimate objects. Unlike inanimate objects, humans have the distinct property of being “like me” in the eyes of the observer. This allows us to use the same systems that process knowledge about self-performed actions, self-conceived thoughts, and self-experienced emotions to understand actions, thoughts, and emotions in others. The authors propose that internal simulation mechanisms, such as the mirror neuron system, are necessary for normal development of (...) recognition, imitation, theory of mind, empathy, and language. Additionally, the authors suggest that dysfunctional simulation mechanisms may underlie the social and communicative deficits seen in individuals with autism spectrum disorders. (shrink)
Summary Ideomotor apraxia is a cognitive disorder in which the patient loses the ability to accurately perform learned, skilled actions. This is despite normal limb power and coordination. It has long been known that left supramarginal gyrus lesions cause bilateral upper limb apraxia and it was proposed that this area stored a visualkinaesthetic image of the skilled action, which was translated elsewhere in the brain into the pre-requisite movement formula. We hypothesise that, rather than these two functions occurring separately, both (...) are complementary functions of chains of ‘‘mirror neurons’’ within the left inferior parietal lobe. We go on to propose that this neural mechanism in the supramarginal gyrus and its projection zones, which originally evolved to allow the creation of a direct map between vision and movement, was subsequently exapted to allow other sorts of cross-domain mapping and in particular those sorts of abstract re-conceptualisation, such as metaphor, that make mankind unique. (shrink)
In the present paper we address the issue of the role of the body in shaping our basic self-awareness. It is generally taken for granted that basic bodily self-awareness has primarily to do with proprioception. Here we challenge this assumption by arguing from both a phenomenological and a neurophysiological point of view that our body is primarily given to us as a manifold of action possibilities that cannot be reduced to any form of proprioceptive awareness. By discussing the notion of (...) affordance and the spatiality of the body we show that both have to be construed in terms of the varying range of our power for action. Finally, we posit that the motor roots of our bodily self-awareness shed new light on both the common ground for and the distinguishing criterium between self and other. The properties of the mirrormechanism indicate that the same action possibilities constituting our bodily self also allow us to make sense of other bodily selves inasmuch as their action possibilities can be mapped onto our own ones. Our proposal may pave the way towards a general deconstruction of the different layers at the core of our full-fledged sense of self and others. (shrink)
In this paper a theoretical framework is proposed for how the brain processes the information necessary for us to achieve the understanding of others that we experience in our social worlds. Our framework attempts to expand several previous approaches to more fully account for the various data on interpersonal understanding and to respond to theoretical critiques in this area. Specifically, we propose that social understanding must be achieved by at least two mechanisms in the brain that are capable of parallel (...) information processing. The first mechanism, based on research into mirror matching systems in the brain, suggests that representations of others are mapped onto an observer's representations of these same schemas in order to understand them. The second mechanism requires semantic analysis of a given social situation in order to understand the actions of others and most likely involves conscious processes. We suggest that experimental correlates of these systems should be dissociable using both behavioral and neuroimaging techniques. (shrink)
Mirror neurons are widely regarded as an important key to social cognition. Despite such wide agreement, there is very little consensus on how or why they are important. The goal of this paper is to clearly explicate the exact role mirror neurons play in social cognition. I aim to answer two questions about the relationship between mirroring and social cognition: What kind of social understanding is involved with mirroring? How is mirroring related to that understanding? I argue that (...) philosophical and empirical considerations lead us to accord a fairly minimal role for mirror neurons in social cognition. (shrink)
The neurological discovery of mirror neurons is of eminent importance for the phenomenological theory of intersubjectivity. G. Rizzolatti and V. Gallese found in experiments with primates that a set of neurons in the premotor cortex represents the visually registered movements of another animal. The activity of these mirror neurons presents exactly the same pattern of activity as appears in the movement of one's own body. These findings may be extended to other cognitive and emotive functions in humans. I (...) show how these neurological findings might be “translated” phenomenologically into our own experienced sensations, feelings and volitions. (shrink)
Research on mirror self-recognition where animals are observed for mirror-guided self-directed behaviour has predominated the empirical approach to self-awareness in nonhuman primates. The ability to direct behaviour to previously unseen parts of the body such as the inside of the mouth, or grooming the eye by aid of mirrors has been interpreted as recognition of self and evidence of a self-concept. Three decades of research has revealed that contrary to monkeys, most great apes (humans, common chimpanzees, pygmy chimpanzees (...) and orangutans but not the gorilla) have convincingly displayed the capacity to recognize self by mirrors. The putative discontinuity in phylogeny of the ability suggests the existence of a so-called cognitive gap between great apes and the rest of the animal kingdom. However, methodological and theoretical inconsistencies regarding the empirical approach prevail. For instance, the observation of self-directed behaviour might not be as straightforward as it seems. In addition, the interpretation of mirror self-recognition as an index of self-awareness is challenged by alternative explanations, raising doubt about some assumptions behind mirror self-recognition. To evaluate the significance of the test in discussions of the concept of self this paper presents and analyses some major arguments raised on the mirror task. (shrink)
The concept of mechanism in biology has three distinct meanings. It may refer to a philosophical thesis about the nature of life and biology (‘mechanicism’), to the internal workings of a machine-like structure (‘machine mechanism’), or to the causal explanation of a particular phenomenon (‘causal mechanism’). In this paper I trace the conceptual evolution of ‘mechanism’ in the history of biology, and I examine how the three meanings of this term have come to be featured in (...) the philosophy of biology, situating the new ‘mechanismic program’ in this context. I argue that the leading advocates of the mechanismic program (i.e., Craver, Darden, Bechtel, etc.) inadvertently conflate the different senses of ‘mechanism’. Specifically, they all inappropriately endow causal mechanisms with the ontic status of machine mechanisms, and this invariably results in problematic accounts of the role played by mechanism-talk in scientific practice. I suggest that for effective analyses of the concept of mechanism, causal mechanisms need to be distinguished from machine mechanisms, and the new mechanismic program in the philosophy of biology needs to be demarcated from the traditional concerns of mechanistic biology. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to examine the usefulness of the Machamer, Darden, and Craver (2000) mechanism approach to gaining an understanding of explanation in cognitive neuroscience. We argue that although the mechanism approach can capture many aspects of explanation in cognitive neuroscience, it cannot capture everything. In particular, it cannot completely capture all aspects of the content and significance of mental representations or the evaluative features constitutive of psychopathology.
Long-Term Potentiation (LTP) is a kind of synaptic plasticity that many contemporary neuroscientists believe is a component in mechanisms of memory. This essay describes the discovery of LTP and the development of the LTP research program. The story begins in the 1950's with the discovery of synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus (a medial temporal lobe structure now associated with memory), and it ends in 1973 with the publication of three papers sketching the future course of the LTP research program. The (...) making of LTP was a protracted affair. Hippocampal synaptic plasticity was initially encountered as an experimental tool, then reported as a curiosity, and finally included in the ontic store of the neurosciences. Early researchers were not investigating the hippocampus in search of a memory mechanism; rather, they saw the hippocampus as a useful experimental model or as a structure implicated in the etiology of epilepsy. The link between hippocampal synaptic plasticity and learning or memory was a separate conceptual achievement. That link was formulated in at least three different ways at different times: reductively (claiming that plasticity is identical to learning), analogically (claiming that plasticity is an example or model of learning), and mechanistically (claiming that plasticity is a component in learning or memory mechanisms). The hypothesized link with learning or memory, coupled with developments in experimental techniques and preparations, shaped how researchers understood LTP itself. By 1973, the mechanistic formulation of the link between LTP and memory provided an abstract framework around which findings from multiple perspectives could be integrated into a multifield research program. (shrink)
PROFESSOR LEWIS 1 and Professor Coder 2 criticize my use of GĂ¶del's theorem to refute Mechanism. 3 Their criticisms are valuable. In order to meet them I need to show more clearly both what the tactic of my argument is at one crucial point and the general aim of the whole manoeuvre.
It is often claimed that the discovery of mirror neurons supports simulation theory (ST). There has been much controversy about this, however, as there are various competing models of the functional contribution of mirror systems, only some of which characterize mirroring as simulation in the sense required by ST. But a brief review of these models reveals that they all include simulation in some sense . In this paper, I propose that the broader conception of simulation articulated by (...) neo-empiricist theories of concepts can subsume the more specific conceptions of simulation presented by ST and by these other models, thereby offering a framework in which each of these models may play a role. According to neo-empiricism, conceptual thought in general involves simulation in the sense that it is grounded in sensory, motor, and other embodied systems (Barsalou, Behavioral and Brain Sciences , 22 , 577–609, 1999 , Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London: Biological Sciences , 364 , 1281–1289, 2009 ; Barsalou et al., Trends in Cognitive Sciences , 7 (2), 84–91, 2003 ; Prinz 2002 , Mind & Language , 25 (5), 612–621, 2010 ; Glenberg and Robertson, Journal of Memory and Language , 43 , 379–401, 2000 ). Crucially, the term “simulation” here refers not to simulations of a target agent’s experience in the sense endorsed by simulation theory but to the activation of sensory, motor, affective, and introspective representations. This difference does not entail that neo-empiricism must be in competition with ST—indeed, I will propose that ST can be embedded as a special case within neo-empiricism. (shrink)
Recently, there has been a resurgence of interest in theories of mindreading. New discoveries in neuroscience have revitalized the languishing debate. The discovery of so-called mirror neurons has revived interest particularly in the Simulation Theory (ST) of mindreading. Both ST proponents and theorists studying mirror neurons have argued that mirror neurons are strong evidence in favor of ST over Theory Theory (TT). In this paper I argue against the prevailing view that mirror neurons are evidence for (...) the ST of mindreading. My view is that on an appropriate construal of their function, mirror neurons do not operate like simulation theorists claim. In fact, mirror neurons are more appropriately understood as one element in an information-rich mindreading process. As such, mirror neurons fit in better with some sort of TT account of mindreading. I offer a positive account, the Model TT, which better explains the role of mirror neurons in social cognition. (shrink)
Abstract The view that mirror self-recognition (MSR) is a definitive demonstration of self-awareness is far from universally accepted, and those who do support the view need a more robust argument than the mere assumption that self-recognition implies a self-concept (e.g. Gallup in Socioecology and Psychology of Primates, Mouton, Hague, 1975 ; Gallup and Suarez in Psychological Perspectives on the Self, vol 3, Erlbaum, Hillsdale, 1986 ). In this paper I offer a new argument in favour of the view that (...) MSR shows self-awareness by examining the nature of the mirror image itself. I argue, using the results of ‘symbol-mindedness’ experiments by Deloache (Trends Cogn Sci 8(2):66–70, 2004) , that where self-recognition exists, the mirror image must be functioning as a symbol from the perspective of the subject and the subject must therefore be ‘symbol-minded’ and hence concept possessing. Further to this, according to the Concept Possession Hypothesis of Self-Consciousness (Savanah in Conscious Cogn 2011 ), concept possession alone is sufficient to demonstrate the existence of self-awareness. Thus MSR as a demonstration of symbol-mindedness implies the existence of self-awareness. I begin by defending the ‘mark test’ protocol as a robust methodology for determining self-recognition. Then follows a critical examination of the extreme views both for and against the interpretation of MSR as an indication of self-awareness: although the non-mentalistic interpretation of MSR is unconvincing, the argument presented by Gallup is also inadequate. I then present the symbol-mindedness argument to fill in the gaps in the Gallup approach. Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-17 DOI 10.1007/s10539-012-9318-2 Authors Stephane Savanah, ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders (CCD), Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW 2109, Australia Journal Biology and Philosophy Online ISSN 1572-8404 Print ISSN 0169-3867. (shrink)
Four distinct models of the functional contribution of mirror neurons to social cognition can be distinguished: direct matching, inverse modeling, response modeling, and predictive coding. Each entails a different way in which an agent's own capacities for action and affective experience contribute to understanding and/or predicting others' actions and affective experience. In this paper, the four models and their theoretical frameworks are elucidated, empirical data and theoretical arguments bearing upon each are reviewed, and falsifiable predictions that could help to (...) distinguish empirically among the models are proposed. (shrink)
The critique of mechanism in the political philosophy of Herder and German romanticism -- The political function of machine metaphors in Hegel's early writings -- Mechanism in religious practice -- The mechanization of labor and the birth of modern ethicality in Hegel's Jena political writings -- Mechanism and the problem of self-determination in Hegel's logic -- The modern state as absolute mechanism : Hegel's logical insight into the relation of civil society and the state.
Accounts of ontic explanation have often been devised so as to provide an understanding of mechanism and of causation. Ontic accounts differ quite radically in their ontologies, and one of the latest additions to this tradition proposed by Peter Machamer, Lindley Darden and Carl Craver reintroduces the concept of activity. In this paper I ask whether this influential and activity-based account of mechanisms is viable as an ontic account. I focus on polygenic scenarios—scenarios in which the causal truths depend (...) on more than one cause. The importance of polygenic causation was noticed early on by Mill (1893). It has since been shown to be a problem for both causal-law approaches to causation (Cartwright 1983) and accounts of causation cast in terms of capacities (Dupré 1993; Glennan 1997, pp. 605-626). However, whereas mechanistic accounts seem to be attractive precisely because they promise to handle complicated causal scenarios, polygenic causation needs to be examined more thoroughly in the emerging literature on activity-based mechanisms. The activity-based account proposed in Machamer et al. (2000, pp. 1-25) is problematic as an ontic account, I will argue. It seems necessary to ask, of any ontic account, how well it performs in causal situations where—at the explanandum level of mechanism—no activity occurs. In addition, it should be asked how well the activity-based account performs in situations where there are too few activities around to match the polygenic causal origin of the explanandum. The first situation presents an explanandum-problem and the second situation presents an explanans-problem—I will argue—both of which threaten activity-based frameworks. (shrink)
Abduction and metaphor are two significant concepts in cognitive science. It is found that the both mental processes are on the basis of certain similarity. The similarity inspires us to seek the answers to the following two questions: (1) Whether there is a common cognitive mechanism behind abduction and metaphor? And (2) if there is, whether this common mechanism could be interpreted within the unified frame of modern intelligence theory? Centering on these two issues, the paper attempts to (...) characterize and interpret the generation and evolution of scientific metaphors from the perspective of the cognitive mechanism of abductive inference. Then it interprets the common cognitive mechanism behind abduction and metaphor within Hawkins’ frame of intelligence theory. The commonality between abduction and metaphor indicates the potential to further explore human intelligence. (shrink)
In this paper, I examine metaphysical aspects in the neuroeconomics debate. I propose that part of the debate can be better understood by supposing two metaphysical stances, mechanistic and functional. I characterize the two stances, and discuss their relations. I consider two models of framing, in order to illustrate how the features of mechanistic and functional stances figure in the practice of the sciences of individual decision making.
A widely accepted theory holds that emotional experiences occur mainly in a part of the human brain called the amygdala. A different theory asserts that color sensation is located in a small subpart of the visual cortex called V4. If these theories are correct, or even approximately correct, then they are remarkable advances toward a scientific explanation of human conscious experience. Yet even understanding the claims of such theories—much less evaluating them—raises some puzzles. Conscious experience does not present itself as (...) a brain process. Indeed experience seems entirely unlike neural activity. For example, to some people it seems that an exact physical duplicate of you could have different sensations than you do, or could have no sensations at all. If so, then how is it even possible that sensations could turn out to be brain processes? (shrink)
Ken Warmbrod thinks Quine agrees that translation is determinate if it is determinate what speakers would say in all possible circumstances; that what things would do in merely possible circumstances is determined by what their subvisible constituent mechanisms would dispose them to do on the evidence of what alike actual mechanisms make alike actual things do actually; and that what speakers say is determined by their neural mechanisms. Warmbrod infers that people's neural mechanisms make translation of what people say determinate. (...) I argue that the evidence of what alike actual mechanisms make alike actual things do actually, underdetermines what our neural mechanisms would make us say in merely possible circumstances. So translation is indeterminate. And so too are the dispositions of physical mechanisms. (shrink)
Can the phenomenal character of perceptual experience be altered by the states of one’s cognitive system, for example, one’s thoughts or beliefs? Ifone thinks that this can happen [at least in certain ways that are identWed in the paper] then one thinks that there can be cognitive penetration of perceptual experience; otherwise, one thinks that perceptual experience is cognitivelv impenetrable. I claim that there is one alleged case ofcognitive penetration that cannot be explained away by the standard strategies one can (...) typicallv use to explain away alleged cases. The case is one in which it seems subjects’ beliefs about the typical colour of objects ajfects their colour experience. I propose a two-step mechanism of indirect cognitive penetration that explains how cognitive penetration may occur. I show that there is independent evidence that each step in this process can occur. I suspect that people who are opposed to the idea that perceptual experience is cognitivelv penetrable will be less opposed to the idea when they come to consider this indirect mechanism and that those who are generallv sympathetic to the idea ofcognitive penetrability will welcome the elucidation ofthis plausible mechanism. (shrink)
Mirror neurons are neurons which fire in two distinct conditions: (i) when an agent performs a specific action, like a precision grasp of an object using fingers, and (ii) when an agent observes that action performed by another. Some theorists have suggested that the existence of such neurons may lend support to the simulation approach to mindreading (e.g. Gallese and Goldman, 1998, 'Mirror neurons and the simulation theory of mind reading'). In this note I critically examine this suggestion, (...) in both its original and a revised form (due to Iacoboni et al., 2005, 'Grasping the intentions of others with one's own mirror neuron system'), and argue that the existence of mirror neurons can in fact tell us very little about how intentional attribution actually proceeds. (shrink)
A number of philosophers have been impressed with the thought that moral saints and moral monsters—or, evil people, to put it less sensationally—“mirror” one another, in a sense to be explained. Call this the mirror thesis. The project of this paper is to cash out the metaphorical suggestion that moral saints and evil persons mirror one other and to articulate the most plausible literal version of the mirror thesis. To anticipate, the most plausible version of the (...)mirror thesis implies that evil persons mirror moral saints insofar as the characters of each are marked by similar aretaic properties: suffering from extremely vicious character traits—in a sense to be explained—suffices for being evil whereas possessing extremely virtuous character traits similarly suffices for moral sainthood. (shrink)
According to an influential view, one function of mirror neurons (MNs), first discovered in the brain of monkeys, is to underlie third-person mindreading. This view relies on two assumptions: the activity of MNs in an observer’s brain matches (simulates or resonates with) that of MNs in an agent’s brain and this resonance process retrodictively generates a representation of the agent’s intention from a perception of her movement. In this paper, I criticize both assumptions and I argue instead that the (...) activity of MNs in an observer’s brain is enhanced by a prior representation of the agent’s intention and that their task is to predictively compute the best motor command suitable to satisfy the agent’s intention. (shrink)
Conscience is oft-referred to yet not understood. This text develops a theory of cognition around a model of conscience, the ACTWith model. It represents a synthesis of results from contemporary neuroscience with traditional philosophy, building from Jamesian insights into the emergence of the self to narrative identity, all the while motivated by a single mechanism as represented in the ACTWith model. Emphasis is placed on clarifying historical expressions and demonstrations of conscience - Socrates, Heidegger, Kant, M.L. King - in (...) light of the ACTWith model, while at once turning these resources to developing the basic architecture. In the end, this text aims to enrich moral theory by improving our understanding of moral cognition, while at once providing a useful tool in everyday moral practice and self-development. (shrink)
I distinguish three theses associated with the new mechanistic philosophy – concerning causation, explanation and scientific methodology. Advocates of each thesis are identified and relationships among them are outlined. I then look at some recent work on natural selection and mechanisms. There, attention to different kinds of New Mechanism significantly affects of what is at stake.
The aim of this article is to elucidate the notions of explanation and mechanism, in particular of the social kind. A mechanism is defined as what makes a concrete system tick, and it is argued that to propose an explanation proper is to exhibit a lawful mechanism. The so-called covering law model is shown to exhibit only the logical aspect of explanation: it just subsumes particulars under universals. A full or mechanismic explanation involves mechanismic law statements, not (...) purely descriptive ones such as functional relations and rate equations. Many examples from the natural, biosocial, and social sciences are examined. In particular, macro-micro-micro-macro social relations are shown to explain other wise puzzling macro-macro links. The last part of the article relates the author's progress, over half a century, toward understanding mechanism and explanation. (shrink)
This paper raises fundamental questions about the claims of art historian David Freedberg and neuroscientist Vittorio Gallese in their article "Motion, Emotion and Empathy in Esthetic Experience." It does so from several perspectives, all of them rooted in the dynamic realities of movement. It shows on the basis of neuroscientific research how connectivity and pruning are of unmistakable import in the interneuronal dynamic patternings in the human brain from birth onward. In effect, it shows that mirror neurons are contingent (...) on morphology and corporeal-kinetic tactile-kinesthetic experience. Accordingly, it poses and answers the overlooked but seminally important question of how mirror neurons come to be. The original neuromuscular research of Parma neuroscientists and the findings of Marc Jeannerod concerning kinesthesia support the answer that the "underpinnings" of visual art appreciation are themselves underpinned. An abbreviated phenomenological analysis of movement and its implications regarding the fact that the making of all art is quintessentially contingent on movement, hence a dynamic enterprise, further bolster the given answer as does a brief review of an empirical phenomenological analysis of the natural dynamic congruency of emotions and movement. In the end, the paper shows that movement and life are of a piece in the creation and appreciation of art as in everyday life. (shrink)
Both macaque monkeys and humans have been shown to have what are called ‘mirror neurons’, a class of neurons that respond to goal-related motor-actions, both when these actions are performed by the subject and when they are performed by another individual observed by the subject. Gallese and Goldman (1998) contend that mirror neurons may be seen as ‘a part of, or a precursor to, a more general mind- reading ability’, and that of the two competing theories of mind-reading, (...)mirror neurons lend support to simulation theory. I here offer four reasons why I think mirror neurons do not provide support for simulation theory over its contender, theory theory. (shrink)
This article brings out certain philosophical difficulties in Lacan’s account of the mirror stage, the initial moment of the subject’s development. For Lacan, the “original organization of the forms of the ego” is “precipitated” in an infant’s self-recognition in a mirror image; this event is explicitly prior to any social interactions. A Hegelian objection to the Lacanian account argues that social interaction and recognition of others by infants are necessary prerequisites for infants’ capacity to recognize themselves in a (...)mirror image. Thus mutual recognition with another, rather than self-recognition in a mirror, is what makes possible subsequent ego-formation and self-consciousness. This intersubjective critique suggests that many of the psychoanalytic consequences that Lacan derives from the mirror stage (e.g., alienation, narcissism, and aggressivity) may need to be rethought. (shrink)
The 16th and 17th centuries marked a period of transition from the vitalistic ontology that had dominated Renaissance natural philosophy to the Early Modern mechanistic paradigm endorsed by, among others, the Cartesians and Newtonians. This paper focuses on how the tensions between vitalism and mechanism played themselves out in the context of 16th and 17th century chemistry and chemical philosophy. The paper argues that, within the fields of chemistry and chemical philosophy, the significant transition that culminated in the 18th (...) century Chemical Revolution was not a transition from vitalism to full-blown mechanism. Rather, chemical philosophy shifted from a vitalistic theory of matter and spirits to a naturalistic, physicalistic, and corpuscularian conception of chemical properties and reactions. Despite being naturalistic, physicalistic, and corpuscularian, however, this theory was not fully mechanistic. Special attention is paid to the contributions made by Paracelsus, Sebastien Basso, Jan Baptista van Helmont, and Robert Boyle to this ontological transition. (shrink)
The World In Your Head: A Gestalt View of the Mechanism of Conscious Experience represents a bold assault on one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in science: the nature of consciousness and the human mind. Rather than examining the brain and nervous system to see what they tell us about the mind, this book begins with an examination of conscious experience to see what it can tell us about the brain. Through this analysis, the first and most obvious observation (...) is that consciousness appears as a volumetric spatial void, containing colored objects and surfaces. This reveals that the representation in the brain takes the form of an explicit volumetric spatial model of external reality. Therefore, the world we see around us is not the real world itself, but merely a miniature virtual-reality replica of that world in an internal representation. In fact, the phenomena of dreams and hallucinations clearly demonstrate the capacity of the brain to construct complete virtual worlds even in the absence of sensory input. Perception is somewhat like a guided hallucination, based on sensory stimulation. This insight allows us to examine the world of visual experience not as scientists exploring the external world, but as perceptual scientists examining a rich and complex internal representation. This unique approach to investigating mental function has implications in a wide variety of related fields, including the nature of language and abstract thought, and motor control and behavior. It also has implications to the world of music, art, and dance, showing how the patterns of regularity and periodicity in space and time--apparent in those aesthetic domains--reflect the periodic basis set of the underlying harmonic resonance representation in the brain. (shrink)
The discovery of mirror neurons has been hailed as one of the most exciting developments in neuroscience in the past few decades. These neurons discharge in response to the observation of others’ actions. But how are we to understand the function of these neurons? In this paper I defend the idea that mirror neurons are best conceived as components of a sensory system that has the function to perceive action. In short, mirror neurons are part of a (...) hitherto unrecognized “sixth sense”. In this spirit, research should move toward developing a psychophysics of mirror neurons. (shrink)
This is an attempt to interpret the history of mechanism vs. vitalism in relation to the changing framework of culture and to show the interrelation between both these views and experimental science. After the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century, causal mechanism of classical physics provided the framework for the study of nature. The teleological and holistic properties of life, however, which are incompatible with this theory yielded — as a result both of internal developments within biology and (...) of a general reaction against dogmatic rationalism — to a vitalistic interpretation of life which ascribed a mysterious force to living organisms. It will be shown that both mechanism and vitalism are related to the experimental climate of the time in which they were popular. The controversy has now lost its raison d'être as a result of the development of the theory of systems and of a better understanding of the chemistry and evolution of life. (shrink)
Although there has been much recent discussion on mechanisms in philosophy of science and social theory, no shared understanding of the crucial concept itself has emerged. In this paper, a distinction between two core concepts of mechanism is made on the basis that the concepts correspond to two different research strategies: the concept of mechanism as a componential causal system is associated with the heuristic of functional decomposition and spatial localization and the concept of mechanism as an (...) abstract form of interaction is associated with the strategy of abstraction and simple models. The causal facts assumed and the theoretical consequences entailed by an explanation with a given mechanism differ according to which concept of mechanism is in use. Research strategies associated with mechanism concepts also involve characteristic biases that should be taken into account when using them, especially in new areas of application. (shrink)
Proposition 1 is based on the received Aristotelian analysis of intentional action and a commonsense view about understanding. Proposition 2 represents a consensus view among primatologists about the absence of higher order “theory of mind” capacities in monkeys. Proposition 3 reflects a common interpretation of the functions of so-called “mirror neurons” found in the ventral premotor (F5) cortex of macaque monkeys (e.g., Gallese and Goldman 1998; Rizzolatti and Craighero 2004; Fogassi et al. 2005). Taken at face value, then, this (...) inconsistent triad presents a paradox for understanding the contribution of F5 neurons in macaques to their cognitive capacities. This paradox does not arise for humans because the human analogue to proposition 2 is the obvious candidate for rejection. Nevertheless, the considerations relevant to resolving the paradox for monkeys are also important for a properly skeptical interpretation of the neurological evidence about the mirror neuron system in humans (see Debes, submitted). In this chapter I discuss each of the possibilities for resolving the paradox by rejecting one of the three propositions. Although my philosophical sympathies pError (27674): Unknown form typeError (27725): Unknown form typeError (27815): Unknown form typeresently lie with rejecting proposition 1, some of the arguments depend on empirical knowledge that is presently lacking. Nevertheless, I describe an approach to understanding the functions of F5 mirror.. (shrink)
Explanations in the life sciences frequently involve presenting a model of the mechanism taken to be responsible for a given phenomenon. Such explanations depart in numerous ways from nomological explanations commonly presented in philosophy of science. This paper focuses on three sorts of differences. First, scientists who develop mechanistic explanations are not limited to linguistic representations and logical inference; they frequently employ dia- grams to characterize mechanisms and simulations to reason about them. Thus, the epistemic resources for presenting mechanistic (...) explanations are considerably richer than those suggested by a nomological framework. Second, the fact that mechanisms involve organized systems of component parts and operations provides direction to both the discovery and testing of mech- anistic explanations. Finally, models of mechanisms are developed for specific exemplars and are not represented in terms of universally quantified statements. Generalization involves investigating both the similarity of new exemplars to those already studied and the variations between them. Ó 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. (shrink)
Sections 3.16 and 3.23 of Roger Penrose's Shadows of the mind (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1994) contain a subtle and intriguing new argument against mechanism, the thesis that the human mind can be accurately modeled by a Turing machine. The argument, based on the incompleteness theorem, is designed to meet standard objections to the original Lucas–Penrose formulations. The new argument, however, seems to invoke an unrestricted truth predicate (and an unrestricted knowability predicate). If so, its premises are inconsistent. The (...) usual ways of restricting the predicates either invalidate Penrose's reasoning or require presuppositions that the mechanist can reject. (shrink)
Despite the impressive body of evidence supporting the existence of a mirror neuron (MN) system for action, the original claim regarding its crucial role in action understanding remains controversial. Emma Borg has recently launched a sharp attack on this claim, with the aim of demonstrating that neither the original version nor the subsequent revisions of the MN hypothesis tell us very much about how intentional attribution actually works. In this article I take up the challenge she issues in the (...) title of her paper (If Mirror Neurons are the Answer, What was the Question?) and argue that what MNs offer is not as Borg claims 'an extremely limited' picture of action understanding but rather an enriched picture that brings to light aspects of social cognition hitherto ignored in the mind-reading literature, showing how intentional motor components of action can shape social cognition prior to and apart from any forms of deliberate mentalizing. (shrink)
The prominent place 0f corpuscularizm mechanism in L0ckc`s Essay is nowadays universally acknowledged} Certainly, L0ckc’s discussions 0f the primary/secondary quality distinction and 0f real essences cannot be understood without reference to the corpuscularizm science 0f his day, which held that all macroscopic bodily phenomena should bc explained in terms 0f the motions and impacts 0f submicroscopic particles, 0r corpuscles, each of which can bc fully characterized in terms of 21 strictly limited range 0f (primary) properties: size, shape, motion (or (...) mobility), and, perhaps, solidity 0r impcnctrability.2 Indeed, L0ckc’s lists 0f primary quali-. (shrink)
Mirror neurons and systems are often appealed to as mechanisms enabling mindreading, i.e., understanding other people’s mental states. Such neural mirroring processes are often treated as instances of mental simulation rather than folk psychological theorizing. I will call into question this assumed connection between mirroring and simulation, arguing that mirroring does not necessarily constitute mental simulation as specified by the simulation theory of mindreading. I begin by more precisely characterizing “mirroring” (Sect. 2) and “simulation” (Sect. 3). Mirroring results in (...) a neural process in an observer that resembles a neural process of the same type in the observed agent. Although simulation is often characterized in terms of resemblance (Goldman, Simulating minds: The philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience of mindreading, 2006), I argue that simulation requires more than mere interpersonal mental resemblance: A simulation must have the purpose or function of resembling its target (Sect. 3.1). Given that mirroring processes are generated automatically, I focus on what is required for a simulation to possess the function of resembling its target. In Sect. 3.2 I argue that this resemblance function, at least in the case of simulation-based mindreading, requires that a simulation serve as a representation or stand-in of what it resembles. With this revised account of simulation in hand, in Sect. 4 I show that the mirroring processes do not necessarily possess the representational function required of simulation. To do so I describe an account of goal attribution involving a motor mirroring process that should not be characterized as interpersonal mental simulation. I end in Sect. 5 by defending the conceptual distinction between mirroring and simulation, and discussing the implications of this argument for the kind of neuroscientific evidence required by simulation theory. (shrink)
Current accounts of the relationship between classical genetics and molecular biology favor the ‘explanatory extension’ thesis, according to which molecular biology elucidates aspects of inheritance unexplained by classical genetics. I identify however an unresolved tension between the ‘explanatory extension’ account and examples of ‘explanatory interference’ (cases when the accommodation of data from molecular biology results in a more precise genotyping and more adequate classical explanations). This paper provides a new way of analyzing the relationship between classical genetics and molecular biology (...) capable of resolving this tension. The proposed solution makes use of the properties of mechanism schemas and sketches, which can be completed by elucidating some or all of their remaining ‘black boxes’ and instantiated via the filling-in of phenomenon-specific details. This result has implications for the reductionism -antireductionism debate since it shows that molecular elucidations have a positive impact on classical explanations without entailing the reduction of classical genetics to molecular biology. (shrink)
This article distinguishes three archetypal ways of articulating spatial cognition: (1) via metric representation of objective geometry, (2) via somatosensory constitution of the peripersonal environment, and (3) via pragmatic comprehension of the finalistic sense of action. The last one is documented by neuroscientific studies concerning mirror neurons. Bio-robotic experiments implementing mirror functions confirm the constitutive role of goal-oriented actions in spatial processes.
The dominance of string theory in the research landscape of quantum gravity physics (despite any direct experimental evidence) can, I think, be justified in a variety of ways. Here I focus on an argument from mathematical fertility, broadly similar to Hilary Putnam’s ‘no miracles argument’ that, I argue, many string theorists in fact espouse. String theory leads to many surprising, useful, and well-confirmed mathematical ‘predictions’—here I focus on mirror symmetry. These predictions are made on the basis of general physical (...) principles entering into string theory. The success of the mathematical predictions are then seen as evidence for framework that generated them. I attempt to defend this argument, but there are nonetheless some serious objections to be faced. These objections can only be evaded at a high (philosophical) price. (shrink)
The rich connections between metaphysics and natural philosophy in the early modern period have been widely acknowledged and productively mined, thanks in no small part to the work of Margaret Wilson, whose book, Descartes, served as an inspirational example for a generation of scholars. The task of this paper is to investigate one particular such connection, namely, the relation between occasionalist metaphysics and strict mechanism. My focus will be on the work of Nicholas Malebranche, the most influential Cartesian philosopher (...) after Descartes himself. I begin with two crucial facts about Malebranche’s philosophy: (1) Malebranche was an occasionalist, that is, he held that God was the only true cause, that all modifications of bodies and of minds can be produced by God alone. (2) Malebranche adhered firmly to strict mechanism. By strict mechanism, I mean the view, found most prominently in Descartes and in Boyle’s more ideological writings, that the qualities of bodies are exhausted by a very short list (size, shape, motion, and perhaps solidity) and that, most importantly, bodies interact only at contact by impact. Another way of describing this “contact action” requirement is as the thesis that the only fundamental laws of physics are laws of inertial motion and laws of the communication of motion at impact. In.. (shrink)
Empathy is the phenomenal experience of mirroring ourselves into others. It can be explained in terms of simulations of actions, sensations, and emotions which constitute a shared manifold for intersubjectivity. Simulation, in turn, can be sustained at the subpersonal level by a series of neural mirror matching systems.
Primatologists generally agree that monkeys lack higher-order intentional capacities related to theory of mind. Yet the discovery of the so-called “mirror neurons” in monkeys suggests to many neuroscientists that they have the rudiments of intentional understanding. Given a standard philosophical view about intentional understanding, which requires higher-order intentionality, a paradox arises. Different ways of resolving the paradox are assessed, using evidence from neural, cognitive, and behavioral studies of humans and monkeys. A decisive resolution to the paradox requires substantial additional (...) empirical work and perhaps a rejection of the standard philosophical view. (shrink)
The philosophical world is indebted to Alvin Goldman for a number of reasons, and among them, his defense of the relevance of cognitive science for philosophy of mind. In Simulating minds , Goldman discusses with great care and subtlety a wide variety of experimental results related to mindreading from cognitive neuroscience, cognitive psychology, social psychology and developmental psychology. No philosopher has done more to display the resourcefulness of mental simulation. I am sympathetic with much of the general direction of Goldman’s (...) theory. I agree with him that mindreading is not a single system based on a single mechanism. And I admire his attempt to bring together the cognitive neuroscientific discovery of mirror system phenomena and the philosophical account of pretense within a unique theoretical framework of mental simulation. To do so, Goldman distinguishes two types of mindreading, respectively, based on low-level and high-level simulation. Yet, I wonder in what sense they are really two distinct processes. Here, I will confine myself largely to spelling out a series of points that take issue with the distinction between low-level and high-level mindreading. (shrink)
This paper explores the argument structure of the concept of spontaneous symmetry breaking in the electroweak gauge theory of the Standard Model: the so-called Higgs mechanism. As commonly understood, the Higgs argument is designed to introduce the masses of the gauge bosons by a spontaneous breaking of the gauge symmetry of an additional field, the Higgs field. The technical derivation of the Higgs mechanism, however, consists in a mere reshuffling of degrees of freedom by transforming the Higgs Lagrangian (...) in a gauge-invariant manner. This already raises serious doubts about the adequacy of the entire manoeuvre. It will be shown that no straightforward ontic interpretation of the Higgs mechanism is tenable, since gauge transformations possess no real instantiations. In addition, the explanatory value of the Higgs argument will be critically examined. (shrink)
Positing the importance of sensorimotor contingencies for perception is by no means denying the presence and importance of representations. Using the evidence of mirror neurons we will show the intrinsic relationship between action control and representation within the logic of forward models.
Phantom limb experiences demonstrate an unexpected degree of fragility inherent in our self-perceptions. This is perhaps most extreme when congenitally absent limbs are experienced as phantoms. Aplasic phantoms highlight fundamental questions about the physiological bases of self-experience and the ontogeny of a physical, embodied sense of the self. Some of the most intriguing of these questions concern the role of mirror neurons in supporting the development of self–other mappings and hence the emergence of phantom experiences of congenitally absent limbs. (...) In this paper, we will examine the hypothesis that aplasic phantom limb experience is the result of an ontogenetic interplay between body schemas and mirror neuron activity and that this interplay is founded on embedding in a social context. Phantom limb experience has been associated with the persistence of subjective experience of a part of the body after deafferentation through surgical or traumatic removal. We maintain that limited association is inconsistent with the extent to which phantom limb experience is reported by aplasic individuals. (shrink)
Stuart Glennan, and the team of Peter Machamer, Lindley Darden, and Carl Craver have recently provided two accounts of the concept of a mechanism. The main difference between these two versions rests on how the behavior of the parts of the mechanism is conceptualized. Glennan considers mechanisms to be an interaction of parts, where the interaction between parts can be characterized by direct, invariant, change-relating generalizations. Machamer, Darden, and Craver criticize traditional conceptualizations of mechanisms which are based solely (...) on parts interacting and introduce a new conceptactivity. This essay is an attempt at carving out a relationship between these two philosophical interpretations of a mechanism. I will claim that, rather than being in conflict, Glennan's concept of interaction and Machamer, Darden, and Craver's notion of activity actually complement one another, each emphasizing a missing element of the other. (shrink)
The Higgs mechanism is an essential but elusive component of the Standard Model of particle physics. Without it Yang-Mills gauge theories would have been little more than a warm-up exercise in the attempt to quantize gravity rather than serving as the basis for the Standard Model. This article focuses on two problems related to the Higgs mechanism clearly posed in Earman's recent papers (Earman 2003, 2004a, 2004b): what is the gauge-invariant content of the Higgs mechanism, and what (...) does it mean to break a local gauge symmetry? (shrink)
How do people understand questions about cause and prevent? Some theories propose that people affirm that A causes B if A's occurrence makes a difference to B's occurrence in one way or another. Other theories propose that A causes B if some quantity or symbol gets passed in some way from A to B. The aim of our studies is to compare these theories' ability to explain judgements of causation and prevention. We describe six experiments that compare judgements for causal (...) paths that involve a mechanism, i.e. a continuous process of transmission or exchange from cause to effect, against paths that involve no mechanism yet a change in the cause nevertheless brings about a change in the effect. Our results show that people prefer to attribute cause when a mechanism links cause to effect. In contrast, prevention is sensitive both to the presence of an interruption to a causal mechanism and to a change in the outcome in the absence of a mechanism. In this sense, ‘prevent’ means something different than ‘cause not'. We discuss the implications of our results for existing theories of causation. (shrink)
The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries marks a period of transition between the vitalistic ontology that had dominated Renaissance natural philosophy and the Early Modern mechanistic paradigm endorsed by, among others, the Cartesians and Newtonians. This paper will focus on how the tensions between vitalism and mechanism played themselves out in the context of sixteenth and seventeenth century chemistry and chemical philosophy, particularly in the works of Paracelsus, Jan Baptista Van Helmont, Robert Fludd, and Robert Boyle. Rather than argue that (...) these natural philosophers each embraced either fully vitalistic or fully mechanistic ontologies, I hope to demonstrate that these thinkers adhered to complicated and nuanced ontologies that cannot be described in either purely vitalistic or purely mechanistic terms. A central feature of my argument is the claim that a corpuscularian theory of matter does not entail a strictly mechanistic and reductionistic account of chemical properties. I also argue that what marks the shift from pre-modern vitalistic chemical philosophy to the modern chemical philosophy that marked the Chemical Revolution is not the victory of mechanism and reductionism in chemistry but, rather, the shift to a physicalistic and naturalistic account of chemical properties and vital spirits. (shrink)
During the scientific revolution reductionism and mechanism were introduced together. These concepts remained intertwined through much of the ensuing history of philosophy and science, resulting in the privileging of approaches to research that focus on the smallest bits of nature. This combination of concepts has been the object of intense feminist criticism, as it encourages biological determinism, narrows researchers’ choices of problems and methods, and allows researchers to ignore the contextual features of the phenomena they investigate. I argue (...) that the historical link between mechanism and reductionism is not a necessary one, that this link should be severed, and in many cases has already been severed. Teasing reductionism away from mechanism allows us to hold onto the mechanistic view that science should explain how things work, without mandating methods and approaches that reduce the objects of scientific investigation to their smallest parts. Mechanism without reductionism decenters reductive methods, and so creates intellectual space for a plurality of methods that may engage the world at a variety of levels of organization. This ensuing pluralism opens the door for a wide variety of approaches to research, including feminist and gender-sensitive science. (shrink)
Rorty -- The mirror of nature -- The origins of the mirror -- The antipodeans -- The origins of philosophy -- Linguistic holism -- Naturalized epistemology : psychology -- Naturalized epistemology : language -- Science and pluralism -- The power of strangeness.
According to vitalism, living organisms differ from machines and all other inanimate objects by being endowed with an indwelling immaterial directive agency, ‘vital force,’ or entelechy . While support for vitalism fell away in the late nineteenth century many biologists in the early twentieth century embraced a non vitalist philosophy variously termed organicism/holism/emergentism which aimed at replacing the actions of an immaterial spirit with what was seen as an equivalent but perfectly natural agency—the emergent autonomous activity of the whole organism. (...) Organicists hold that organisms unlike machines are ‘more than the sum of their parts’ and predict that the vital properties of living things can never be explained in terms of mechanical analogies and that the reductionist agenda is doomed to failure. Here we review the current status of the mechanist and organicist conceptions of life particularly as they apply to the cell. We argue that despite the advances in biological knowledge over the past six decades since the molecular biological revolution, especially in the fields of genetics and cell biology the unique properties of living cells have still not been simulated in mechanical systems nor yielded to reductionist—analytical explanations. And we conclude that despite the dominance of the mechanistic–reductionist paradigm through most of the past century the possibility of a twentyfirst century organicist revival cannot be easily discounted. (shrink)
Skipper and Millstein (2005) argued that existing conceptions of mechanisms failed to "get at" natural selection, but left open the possibility that a refined conception of mechanisms could resolve the problems that they identified. I respond to Skipper and Millstein, and argue that while many of their points have merit, their objections can be overcome and that natural selection can be characterized as a mechanism. In making this argument, I discuss the role of regularity in mechanisms, and develop an (...) account of stochastic (i.e., probabilistic) mechanisms. Explaining the phenomenon of adaptation through the mechanism of natural selection illustrates the power and flexibility of using mechanistic strategies to explain natural phenomena. (shrink)
When we think about mechanisms, there are two general issues we need to consider. The first is broadly epistemic and has to do with the understanding of nature that identifying and knowing mechanisms yields. The second is broadly metaphysical and has to do with the status of mechanisms as building blocks of nature (and in particular, as fundamental constituents of causation). These two issues can be brought together under a certain assumption, which has had long historical pedigree, namely that nature (...) is fundamentally mechanical. What exactly does it mean to say that nature is mechanical? What is the content of this thesis? This assumption has had no concrete ahistorical conceptual content. Rather, its content has varied according to the dominant conception of nature that has characterised each epoch. Nor has it been the case that the very idea of mechanism has had a fixed and definite content. Even if in the seventeenth century and beyond, the idea of mechanism had something to do with matter in motion subject to mechanical laws, current conceptions of mechanism have only a very loose connection with this. A mechanism, nowadays, is virtually any relatively stable arrangement of entities such that, by engaging in certain interactions, a function is performed or an effect is brought about. To call a structure a mechanism is simply to describe it in a certain way—focusing on the steps or processes through which an effect is brought about. (shrink)
In this paper I examine a cognitive mechanism of incommensurability. Using the frame model of concept representation to capture structural relations within concepts, I reveal an ontological difference between object and event concepts: the former are spatial but the latter temporal. Experiments from cognitive sciences further demonstrate that the mind treats object and event concepts differently. Thus, incommensurability can occur in conceptual change across different ontological categories. I use a historical case to illustrate how the ontological difference between an (...) object and an event concept actually caused incommensurability in the context of nineteenth‐century optics. The cognitive and historical analyses indicate that incommensurability can be a local phenomenon and does not necessarily imply incomparability. (shrink)
In his 1951 Gibbs Lecture Gödel formulates the central implication of the incompleteness theorems as a disjunction: either the human mind infinitely surpasses the powers of any finite machine or there exist absolutely unsolvable diophantine problems (of a certain type). In his later writings in particular Gödel favors the view that the human mind does infinitely surpass the powers of any finite machine and there are no absolutely unsolvable diophantine problems. I consider how one might defend such a view in (...) light of Gödel's remark that one can turn to ideas in Husserlian transcendental phenomenology to show that the human mind ‘contains an element totally different from a finite combinatorial mechanism’. (shrink)
According to Roy Sorensen [Philosophical Studies 100 (2000) 175–191] an object cannot differ aesthetically from its mirror image. On his view, mirror-reversing an object – changing its left/right orientation – cannot bring about any aesthetic change. However, in arguing for this thesis Sorensen assumes that aesthetic properties supervene on intrinsic properties alone. This is a highly controversial assumption and nothing is offered in its support. Moreover, a plausible weakening of the assumption does not improve the argument. Finally, Sorensen’s (...) second argument is shown to be formally flawed. As a result, the case for the aesthetic irrelevancy of orientation seems still open. (shrink)