The question of whether non-human animals are conscious is of fundamental importance. There are already good reasons to think that many are, based on evolutionary continuity and other considerations. However, the hypothesis is notoriously resistant to direct empirical test. Numerous studies have shown behaviour in animals analogous to consciously-produced human behaviour. Fewer probe whether the same mechanisms are in use. One promising line of evidence about consciousness in other animals derives from experiments on metamemory. A study by Hampton (Proc Natl (...) Acad Sci USA 98(9):5359–5362, 2001) suggests that at least one rhesus macaque can use metamemory to predict whether it would itself succeed on a delayed matching-to-sample task. Since it is not plausible that mere meta-representation requires consciousness, Hampton’s study invites an important question: what kind of metamemory is good evidence for consciousness? This paper argues that if it were found that an animal had a memory trace which allowed it to use information about a past perceptual stimulus to inform a range of different behaviours, that would indeed be good evidence that the animal was conscious. That functional characterisation can be tested by investigating whether successful performance on one metamemory task transfers to a range of new tasks. The paper goes on to argue that thinking about animal consciousness in this way helps in formulating a more precise functional characterisation of the mechanisms of conscious awareness. (shrink)
The question of whether non-human animals are conscious is of fundamental importance. There are already good reasons to think that many are, based on evolutionary continuity and other considerations. However, the hypothesis is notoriously resistant to direct empirical test. Numerous studies have shown behaviour in animals analogous to consciously-produced human behaviour. Fewer probe whether the same mechanisms are in use. One promising line of evidence about consciousness in other animals derives from experiments on metamemory. A study by Hampton (Proc Natl (...) Acad Sci USA 98(9):5359–5362, 2001 ) suggests that at least one rhesus macaque can use metamemory to predict whether it would itself succeed on a delayed matching-to-sample task. Since it is not plausible that mere meta-representation requires consciousness, Hampton’s study invites an important question: what kind of metamemory is good evidence for consciousness? This paper argues that if it were found that an animal had a memory trace which allowed it to use information about a past perceptual stimulus to inform a range of different behaviours, that would indeed be good evidence that the animal was conscious. That functional characterisation can be tested by investigating whether successful performance on one metamemory task transfers to a range of new tasks. The paper goes on to argue that thinking about animal consciousness in this way helps in formulating a more precise functional characterisation of the mechanisms of conscious awareness. (shrink)
Developmental Systems Theory (DST) emphasises the importance of non-genetic factors in development and their relevance to evolution. A common, deflationary reaction is that it has long been appreciated that non-genetic factors are causally indispensable. This paper argues that DST can be reformulated to make a more substantive claim: that the special role played by genes is also played by some (but not all) non-genetic resources. That special role is to transmit inherited representations, in the sense of Shea (2007: Biology (...) and Philosophy, 22, 313-331). Formulating DST as the claim that there are non-genetic inherited representations turns it into a striking, empirically-testable hypothesis, driving the sort of investigations that are only now beginning to appear in the scientific literature. DST’s characteristic rejection of a gene vs. environment dichotomy is preserved, but without dissolving all potentially explanatory distinctions into an interactionist causal soup, as some have alleged. (shrink)
Automatic imitation or “imitative compatibility” is thought to be mediated by the mirror neuron system and to be a laboratory model of the motor mimicry that occurs spontaneously in naturalistic social interaction. Imitative compatibility and spatial compatibility effects are known to depend on different stimulus dimensions—body movement topography and relative spatial position. However, it is not yet clear whether these two types of stimulus–response compatibility effect are mediated by the same or different cognitive processes. We present an interactive activation model (...) of imitative and spatial compatibility, based on a dual-route architecture, which substantiates the view they are mediated by processes of the same kind. The model, which is in many ways a standard application of the interactive activation approach, simulates all key results of a recent study by Catmur and Heyes (2011). Specifically, it captures the difference in the relative size of imitative and spatial compatibility effects; the lack of interaction when the imperative and irrelevant stimuli are presented simultaneously; the relative speed of responses in a quintile analysis when the imperative and irrelevant stimuli are presented simultaneously; and the different time courses of the compatibility effects when the imperative and irrelevant stimuli are presented asynchronously. (shrink)
Consciousness in experimental subjects is typically inferred from reports and other forms of voluntary behaviour. A wealth of everyday experience confirms that healthy subjects do not ordinarily behave in these ways unless they are conscious. Investigation of consciousness in vegetative state patients has been based on the search for neural evidence that such broad functional capacities are preserved in some vegetative state patients. We call this the standard approach. To date, the results of the standard approach have suggested that some (...) vegetative state patients might indeed be conscious, although they fall short of being demonstrative. The fact that some vegetative state patients show evidence of consciousness according to the standard approach is remarkable, for the standard approach to consciousness is rather conservative, and leaves open the pressing question of how to ascertain whether patients who fail such tests are conscious or not. We argue for a cluster-based ‘natural kind’ methodology that is adequate to that task, both as a replacement for the approach that currently informs research into the presence or absence of consciousness in vegetative state patients and as a methodology for the science of consciousness more generally. (shrink)
One of the great outstanding problems in materialist philosophy of mind is the problem of how there can be space in the material world for intentionality. In the 1980s Ruth Millikan formulated a detailed theory according to which representations are physical particulars and their contents are complex relational properties of those particulars which can be specified in terms of respectable properties drawn from the natural sciences. In particular, she relied on the biological concept of the function of a trait, and (...) the existence of historical conditions which enter into an evolutionary explanation of the operation of that trait. The present article is an introduction to this influential theory of intentionality. (shrink)
This paper advocates explicitness about the type of entity to be considered as content- bearing in connectionist systems; it makes a positive proposal about how vehicles of content should be individuated; and it deploys that proposal to argue in favour of representation in connectionist systems. The proposal is that the vehicles of content in some connectionist systems are clusters in the state space of a hidden layer. Attributing content to such vehicles is required to vindicate the standard explanation for some (...) classificatory networks’ ability to generalise to novel samples their correct classification of the samples on which they were trained. (shrink)
Millikan’s theory of content purports to rely heavily on the existence of isomorphisms between a system of representations and the things in the world which they represent — “the mapping requirement for being intentional signs” (Millikan 2004, p. 106). This paper asks whether those isomorphisms are doing any substantive explanatory work. Millikan’s isomorphism requirement is deployed for two main purposes. First, she claims that the existence of an isomorphism is the basic representing relation, with teleology playing a subsidiary role — (...) to account for misrepresentation (the possibility of error). Second, Millikan relies on an isomorphism requirement in order to guarantee that a system of representations displays a kind of productivity. This seemingly strong reliance on isomorphism has prompted the objection that isomorphism is too liberal to be the basic representing relation: there are isomorphisms between any system of putative representations and any set, of the same cardinality, of items putatively represented. This paper argues that all the work in fixing content is in fact done by the teleology. Deploying Millikan’s teleology-based conditions to ascribe contents will ensure that there is an isomorphism between representations and the things they represent, but the isomorphism ‘requirement’ is playing no substantive explanatory role in Millikan’s account of content determination. So an objection to her theory based on the liberality of isomorphism is misplaced. The second role for isomorphism is to account for productivity. If some kind of productivity is indeed necessary for representation, then functional isomorphism will again be too liberal a constraint to account for that feature. The paper suggests an alternative way of specifying the relation between a system of representations and that which they represent which is capable of playing an explanatory role in accounting for Millikan’s type of productivity. In short, the liberality of isomorphism is no objection to Millikan’s teleosemantics, since the isomorphism ‘requirement’ need play no independent substantive role in Millikan’s account of representation. (shrink)
Just how far can externalism go? In this exciting new book Ruth Millikan explores a radically externalist treatment of empirical concepts (Millikan 2000). For the last thirty years philosophy of mind’s ties to meaning internalism have been loosened. The theory of content has swung uncomfortably on its moorings in a fickle current, straining against opposing ties to mind and world. In this book Millikan casts conceptual content adrift from the thinker: what determines the content of a concept is not cognitively (...) accessible. She has only the stanchion of the world to hold her theory fast. She hopes that the tide will turn, and the theory of meaning will come stably to rest downstream of this anchor. This book is a bold exploration of how that might be achieved. (shrink)
The distinction between top-down and bottom-up effects is widely relied on in experimental psychology. However, there is an important problem with the way it is normally defined. Top-down effects are effects of previously-stored information on processing the current input. But on the face of it that includes the information that is implicit in the operation of any psychological process – in its dispositions to transition from some types of representational state to others. This paper suggests a way to distinguish information (...) stored in that way from the kind of influence of prior information that psychologists are concerned to classify as a top-down effect. So-drawn, the distinction is not just of service to theoretical psychology. Asking about the extent of top-down processing is one way to pose some of the questions at issue in philosophical debates about cognitive penetrability – about the extent of the influence of cognitive states on perception. The existence of a theoretically-useful perception-cognition distinction has come under pressure, but even if it has to be abandoned, some of the concerns addressed in the cognitive penetrability literature can be recaptured by asking about the extent of top-down influences on any given psychological process. That formulation is more general, since it can be applied to any psychological process, not just those that are paradigmatically perceptual. (shrink)
Block’s well-known distinction between phenomenal consciousness and access consciousness has generated a large philosophical literature about putative conceptual connections between the two. The scientific literature about whether they come apart in any actual cases is rather smaller. Empirical evidence gathered to date has not settled the issue. Some put this down to a fundamental methodological obstacle to the empirical study of the relation between phenomenal consciousness and access consciousness. Block (2007) has drawn attention to the methodological puzzle and attempted to (...) answer it. While the evidence Block points to is relevant and important, this paper puts forward a more systematic framework for addressing the puzzle. To give it a label, the approach is to study phenomenal consciousness as a natural kind. The approach allows consciousness studies to move beyond the initial means of identifying instances of the kind, like verbal report, and to find its underlying nature. It is wellrecognised that facts about an underlying kind may allow identification of instances of the kind that do not match the initial means of identification (cp. non-liquid samples of water). This paper shows that the same method can be deployed to investigate phenomenal consciousness independently of access consciousness. (shrink)
In ‘Mental Events’ Donald Davidson argued for the anomalism of the mental on the basis of the operation of incompatible constitutive principles in the mental and physical domains. Many years later, he has suggested that externalism provides further support for the anomalism of the mental. I examine the basis for that claim. The answer to the question in the title will be a qualiﬁed ‘Yes’. That is an important result in the metaphysics of mind and an interesting consequence of externalism.
Contents 1. Introduction 2. Reward-Guided Decision Making 3. Content in the Model 4. How to Deflate a Metarepresentational Reading Proust and Carruthers on metacognitive feelings 5. A Deflationary Treatment of RPEs? 5.1 Dispensing with prediction errors 5.2 What is use of the RPE focused on? 5.3 Alternative explanations—worldly correlates 5.4 Contrast cases 6. Conclusion Appendix: Temporal Difference Learning Algorithms.
BBS Commentary on: Susan Carey: The Origin of Concepts. Carey’s book describes many cases where children develop new concepts with expressive power that could not be constructed out of their input. How does she side-step Fodor’s paradox of radical concept nativism? I suggest it is by rejecting the tacit assumption that psychology can only explain concept acquisition when it occurs by rational inference or other transitions that are explicable-by-content.
This paper sets out a view about the explanatory role of representational content and advocates one approach to naturalising content – to giving a naturalistic account of what makes an entity a representation and in virtue of what it has the content it does. It argues for pluralism about the metaphysics of content and suggests that a good strategy is to ask the content question with respect to a variety of predictively successful information processing models in experimental psychology and cognitive (...) neuroscience; and hence that data from psychology and cognitive neuroscience should play a greater role in theorising about the nature of content. Finally, the contours of the view are illustrated by drawing out and defending a surprising consequence: that individuation of vehicles of content is partly externalist. (shrink)
There is increasing evidence for epigenetically mediated transgenerational inheritance across taxa. However, the evolutionary implications of such alternative mechanisms of inheritance remain unclear. Herein, we show that epigenetic mechanisms can serve two fundamentally different functions in transgenerational inheritance: (i) selection-based effects, which carry adaptive information in virtue of selection over many generations of reliable transmission; and (ii) detection-based effects, which are a transgenerational form of adaptive phenotypic plasticity. The two functions interact differently with a third form of epigenetic information transmission, (...) namely information about cell state transmitted for somatic cell heredity in multicellular organisms. Selection-based epigenetic information is more likely to conflict with somatic cell inheritance than is detection-based epigenetic information. Consequently, the evolutionary implications of epigenetic mechanisms are different for unicellular and multicellular organisms, which underscores the conceptual and empirical importance of distinguishing between these two different forms of transgenerational epigenetic effect. (shrink)
Commentary on Bergstrom and Rosvall, ‘The transmission sense of information’, Biology and Philosophy. In response to worries that uses of the concept of information in biology are metaphorical or insubstantial, Bergstrom and Rosvall have identified a sense in which DNA transmits information down the generations. Their ‘transmission view of information’ is founded on a claim about DNA’s teleofunction. Bergstrom and Rosvall see their transmission view of information as a rival to semantic accounts. This commentary argues that it is complementary. The (...) idea that DNA is transmitting information down the generations only makes sense if it is carrying a message, that is to say if it has semantic content. (shrink)
The concept of innateness is used to make inferences between various better-understood properties, like developmental canalization, evolutionary adaptation, heritability, species-typicality, and so on (‘innateness-related properties’). This article uses a recently-developed account of the representational content carried by inheritance systems like the genome to explain why innateness-related properties cluster together, especially in non-human organisms. Although inferences between innateness-related properties are deductively invalid, and lead to false conclusions in many actual cases, where some aspect of a phenotypic trait develops in reliance on (...) a genetic representation it will tend, better than chance, to have many of the innateness-related properties. The account also shows why inferences between innateness-related properties sometimes fail and argues that such inferences are especially misleading when applied to human psychology and behaviour because human psychological development is especially reliant on non-genetic inherited representations. (shrink)
The success of a piece of behaviour is often explained by its being caused by a true representation (similarly, failure falsity). In some simple organisms, success is just survival and reproduction. Scientists explain why a piece of behaviour helped the organism to survive and reproduce by adverting to the behaviour’s having been caused by a true representation. That usage should, if possible, be vindicated by an adequate naturalistic theory of content. Teleosemantics cannot do so, when it is applied to simple (...) representing systems (Godfrey-Smith 1996). Here it is argued that the teleosemantic approach to content should therefore be modified, not abandoned, at least for simple representing systems. The new ‘infotel-semantics’ adds an input condition to the output condition offered by teleosemantics, recognising that it is constitutive of content in a simple representing system that the tokening of a representation should correlate probabilistically with the obtaining of its specific evolutionary success condition. (shrink)
Recent theoretical work has identified a tightly-constrained sense in which genes carry representational content. Representational properties of the genome are founded in the transmission of DNA over phylogenetic time and its role in natural selection. However, genetic representation is not just relevant to questions of selection and evolution. This paper goes beyond existing treatments and argues for the heterodox view that information generated by a process of selection over phylogenetic time can be read in ontogenetic time, in the course of (...) individual development. Recent results in evolutionary biology, drawn both from modelling work, and from experimental and observational data, support a role for genetic representation in explaining individual ontogeny: both genetic representations and environmental information are read by the mechanisms of development, in an individual, so as to lead to adaptive phenotypes. Furthermore, in some cases there appears to have been selection between individuals that rely to different degrees on the two sources of information. Thus, the theory of representation in inheritance systems like the genome is much more than just a coherent reconstruction of information talk in biology. Genetic representation is a property with considerable explanatory utility. (shrink)
What is the evolutionary significance of the various mechanisms of imitation, emulation and social learning found in humans and other animals? This paper presents an advance in the theoretical resources for addressing that question, in the light of which standard approaches from the cultural evolution literature should be refocused. The central question is whether humans have an imitationbased inheritance system—a mechanism that has the evolutionary function of transmitting behavioural phenotypes reliably down the generations. To have the evolutionary power of an (...) inheritance system, an imitiation-based mechanism must meet a range of demanding requirements. The paper goes on to review the evidence for and against the hypothesis that there is indeed an imitation-based inheritance system in humans. (shrink)
There is ongoing controversy as to whether the genome is a representing system (Sterelny K., <span class='Hi'>Smith</span> K.C. and Dickson M. 1996. Biol. Philos. 11: 377–403; Griffiths P.E. 2001. Philos. Sci. 68: 394–412). Although it is widely recognised that DNA carries information, both correlating with and coding for various outcomes, neither of these implies that the genome has semantic properties like correctness or satisfaction conditions (Godfrey-<span class='Hi'>Smith</span> P. 2002. In: Wolenski J. and Kajania-Placek K. (eds), In the Scope of Logic, (...) Methodology, and the Philosophy of Sciences, Vol. II. Kluwer, Dordrecht, pp. 387–400). Here a modified version of teleosemantics is applied to the genome to show that it does indeed have semantic properties – there is representation in the genome. The account differs in three respects from previous attempts to apply teleosemantics to genes. It emphasises the role of the consumer of representations (in addition to their mode of production). It rejects the standard assumption that genetic representation can be used to explain the course of an organism’s development. And it identifies the explanatory role played by representational properties of the genome. A striking consequence of this account is that other inheritance systems could also be representational. Thus, a version of the parity thesis is accepted (Griffiths P.E. 2001. Philos. Sci. 68: 394–412). However, the criteria for being an inheritance system are demanding, so semantic properties are not ubiquitous. (shrink)
The explosion of scientific results about epigenetic and other parental effects appears bewilderingly diverse. An important distinction helps to bring order to the data. Firstly, parents can detect adaptively-relevant information and transmit it to their offspring who rely on it to set a plastic phenotype adaptively. Secondly, adaptively-relevant information may be generated by a process of selection on a reliably transmitted parental effect. The distinction is particularly valuable in revealing two quite different ways in which human cultural transmission may operate.
Although predictive coding may offer a computational principle that unifies perception and action, states with different directions of fit are involved (with indicative and imperative contents, respectively). Predictive states are adjusted to fit the world in the course of perception, but in the case of action, the corresponding states act as a fixed target towards which the agent adjusts the world.
Humans can think about their conscious experiences using a special class of ‘phenomenal’ concepts. Psycho-physical identity statements formulated using phenomenal concepts appear to be contingent. Kripke argued that this intuited contingency could not be explained away, in contrast to ordinary theoretical identities where it can. If the contingency is real, property dualism follows. Physicalists have attempted to answer this challenge by pointing to special features of phenomenal concepts that explain the intuition of contingency. However no physicalist account of their distinguishing (...) features has proven to be satisfactory. Leading accounts rely on there being a phenomenological difference between tokening a physical-functional concept and tokening a phenomenal concept. This paper shows that existing psychological data undermine that claim. The paper goes on to suggest that the recalcitrance of the intuition of contingency may instead by explained by the limited means people typically have for applying their phenomenal concepts. Ways of testing that suggestion empirically are proposed. (shrink)
Can findings from psychology and cognitive neuroscience about the neural mechanisms involved in decision-making can tell us anything useful about the commonly-understood mental phenomenon of making voluntary choices? Two philosophical objections are considered. First, that the neural data is subpersonal, and so cannot enter into illuminating explanations of personal level phenomena like voluntary action. Secondly, that mental properties are multiply realized in the brain in such a way as to make them insusceptible to neuroscientific study. The paper argues that both (...) objections would be weakened by the discovery of empirical generalisations connecting subpersonal properties with the personal level. It gives three case studies that furnish evidence to that effect. It argues that the existence of such interrelations are consistent with a plausible construal of the personal-subpersonal distinction. Furthermore, there is no reason to suppose that the notion subpersonal representation relied on in cognitive neuroscience illicitly imports personal-level phenomena like consciousness or normativity, or is otherwise explanatorily problematic. (shrink)
We discuss a recent approach to investigating cognitive control, which has the potential to deal with some of the challenges inherent in this endeavour. In a model-based approach, the researcher deﬁnes a formal, computational model that performs the task at hand and whose performance matches that of a research participant. The internal variables in such a model might then be taken as proxies for latent variables computed in the brain. We discuss the potential advantages of such an approach for the (...) study of the neural underpinnings of cognitive control and its pitfalls, and we make explicit the assumptions underlying the interpretation of data obtained using this approach. (shrink)
The New Thinking contained in this volume rejects an Evolutionary Psychology that is committed to innate domain-specific psychological mechanisms: gene-based adaptations that are unlearnt, developmentally fixed and culturally universal. But the New Thinking does not simply deny the importance of innate psychological traits. The problem runs deeper: the concept of innateness is not suited to distinguishing between the two positions. That points to a more serious problem with the concept of innateness as it is applied to human psychological phenotypes. This (...) paper argues that the features of recent human evolution highlighted by the New Thinking imply that the concept of inherited representation, set out here, is a better tool for theorising about human cognitive evolution. (shrink)
Byrne & Russon's proposal that stimulus enhancement, emulation, and response facilitation should be lumped together as priming effects conceals important questions about nonimitative social learning, fails to forge a useful link between the social learning and cognitive psychological literatures, and leaves unexplained the most interesting feature of phenomena ascribed to “response facilitation.”.
Heyes' monograph in feminist philosophy is on the connection between the idea of "normalization"--which per Foucault is a mode or force of control that homogenizes a population--and the gendered body. Drawing on Foucault and Wittgenstein, she argues that the predominant picture of the self--a picture that presupposes an "inner" core of the self that is expressed, accurately or not, by the outer body--obscures the connection between contemporary discourses and practices of self-transformation and the forces of normalization. In other words, (...) pictures of the self can hold us captive when they are being read from the outer self--the body--rather than the inner self, and we can express our inner self by working on our outer body to conform. Articulating this idea with a mix of the theoretical and the practical, she looks at case studies involving transgender people, weight-loss dieting, and cosmetic surgery. Her concluding chapters look at the difficult issue of how to distinguish non-normalizing practices of the self from normalizing ones, and makes suggestions about how feminists might conceive of subjects as embodied and enmeshed in power relations yet also capable of self-transformation. -/- The subject of normalization and its relationship to sex/gender is a major one in feminist theory; Heyes' book is unique in her masterful use of Foucault; its clarity, and its sophisticated mix of the theoretical and the anecdotal. It will appeal to feminist philosophers and theorists. (shrink)
Abstract Galileo Then and Now (Draft of paper to be discussed at the Conference, HPD1, to be held at the Center for Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh, 11-14 October 2007) William R. Shea, University of Padua The aim of this paper is to stimulate discussion on how shifts in philosophical fashion and societal moods tell us not only what to read but how to go about it, and how history and philosophy of science can jointly deepen our grasp (...) of the issues at stake. The first part highlights some of the things that have occurred in the field of Galileo studies between the monumental edition of Galileo Opere in twenty volumes, edited by Antonio Favaro between 1890 and 1909, and the new enlarged edition that will be published from 2009 onwards by a team of scholars working under Paolo Galluzzi. Part One. From Favaro to Galluzzi "Publish or perish" is an injunction that resonated as clearly in the ears of assistant professors at the end of the 19th century as it does in the first decade of the 21st. But publishing can also mean perishing when what is being edited is the work of an eminent scientist of the past. It simply does not do to offer material that is not what readers expect even if it was written by someone as famous as Galileo, and well authenticated sources were sometimes disregarded when they appeared to be of no interest. It is largely for this reason that a new national edition of Galileo's works is required. Of course, over the last hundred years, a number of letters from and to Galileo as well as a few laudatory or damning comments about his personality or his work have been uncovered, but this would not have been enough to drum up financial and scholarly support for a major editorial project. But the interesting material is Favaro had left out. Before mentioning what this material is, allow me a disclaimer. I'm not focusing on Favaro because he is a singularity, but because he illustrates how a conscientious historian can ride slipshod over evidence because of a philosophical commitment that he is only vaguely aware of, in this case naïve positivism. So what did Favaro to leave out? The answer is large chunks of three collections of manuscript notes that are bound in some of the 347 volumes of the Galilean material in the National Library in Florence. The first of these collections deals with logical treatises and related essays on Aristotelian philosophy, the second with Galileo's laboratory notes on the experiments that he carried out on the pendulum and inclined planes; and the third with astrological computations. Favaro rejected the first collection because they were "pre-Galilean" and hence could only have been trite scholastic exercises that "poor" young Galileo had to undergo in high school. He neglected the second because he had trouble making sense of them The third, astrological collection, he set aside with more trepidation since Galileo cast horoscopes for himself (at least twice), his children and his friends. But the fact that they were also, epistemologically speaking, "pre-Galilean", was enough to cast them into the outer darkness (in this case a dimly lit corridor of the National Library in Florence). The Aristotelian notes that Favaro had neglected were made available by William Wallace, who showed that Galileo culled long passages from professors at the Roman College. Galileo attacked several of Aristotle's ideas, but he never queried Aristotle's scientific realism–namely, the view that there is a uniquely true physical theory, discovered by human powers of reason and observation, and that alternative theories are consequently falls. Wallace made this the basis of his claim that Galileo created, in the heaven above and here on earth, a new science of motion by following the Aristotelian cannons laid down in the Posterior Analytics. On this view, Galileo used Aristotle's logic to subvert Aristotelian physics. It is interesting to contrast Wallace's thesis with that of philosophers of different allegiance, who offer a reconstruction of Galileo's methodology along lines that are much more modern and in which the epistemological core is no longer Aristotelian logic, but common sense instrumentalism. This is not to deny that experiments sometimes speak with a forked tongue, but to stress that methodological rules have also been known to be no more than clashing cymbals. Recent writers have also stressed that Galileo aimed his arguments at a specific audience, and that we must take cognizance of the values and whims of the society in which he operated. The sociology of science can help us understand the background against which Galileo's arguments were assessed and the reasons why he favored some rhetorical strategies over other ones. Mario Biagoli's Galileo Courtier sheds light on the Tuscan court and the Roman famiglia (as the popes styled their entourage), where Galileo found many of his readers and most of his critics. But Galileo was much more than a courtier, and I shall argue that we should use our enhanced knowledge of Galileo's education, his language, his style, and his emoluments to understand his science, not to supplant it. History and philosophy of science can combine their insights to achieve a more critical and balanced view of what actually occurred and why. (shrink)
: This article argues that commercial weight-loss organizations appropriate and debase the askeses—practices of care of the self—that Michel Foucault theorized, increasing members' capacities at the same time as they encourage participation in ever-tightening webs of power. Weight Watchers, for example, claims to promote self-knowledge, cultivate new capacities and pleasures, foster self-care in face of gendered exploitation, and encourage wisdom and flexibility. The hupomnemata of these organizations thus use asketic language to conceal their implication in normalization.
: This project draws on scholarship of feminist and womanist scholars, and on results of interviews with scientists currently involved in molecular genetics. With reference to Margaret Urban Walker's "practices of moral responsibility," the social practices of molecular geneticists are explored, and strategies identified through which scientists negotiate their moral responsibilities. The implications of this work for scientists and for feminists are discussed.
Section 1 of this essay distinguishes between four interpretations of Socratic intellectualism, which are, very roughly: (1) a version in which on any given occasion desire, and then action, is determined by what we think will turn out best for us, that being what we all, always, really desire; (2) a version in which on any given occasion action is determined by what we think will best satisfy our permanent desire for what is really best for us; (3) a version (...) formed by the assimilation of (2) to (1), labelled the ‘standard’ version’ by Thomas C. Brickhouse and Nicholas D. Smith, and treated by them as a single alternative to their own interpretation; and (4) Brickhouse and Smith’s own version. Section 2 considers, in particular, Brickhouse and Smith’s handling of the ‘appetites and passions’, which is the most distinctive feature of interpretation (4). Section 3 discusses Brickhouse and Smith’s defence of ‘Socratic studies’ in its historical context, and assesses the contribution made by their distinctive interpretation of ‘the philosophy of Socrates’. One question raised in this section, and one that is clearly fundamental to the existence of ‘Socratic studies’, is how different Brickhouse and Smith’s Socrates turns out to be from Plato himself, i.e., the Plato of the post-‘Socratic’ dialogues; to which the answer offered is that on Brickhouse and Smith’s interpretation Socratic moral psychology becomes rather less distinguishable from its ‘Platonic’ counterpart—as that is currently understood—than it is on the interpretation(s) they oppose. (shrink)
For the last several decades, philosophers have wrestled with the proper place of religion in liberal societies. Usually, the debates among these philosophers have started with the articulation of various conceptions of liberalism and then proceeded to locate religion in the context of these conceptions. In the process, however, too little attention has been paid to the way religion is conceived. Drawing on the work of Robert Audi and Nicholas Wolterstorff, two scholars who are often read as holding opposing (...) views on these issues, I argue that, for the purposes of their argument about liberalism, both have implicitly accepted a concept of religion that has come under severe attack in recent work on the subject. Namely, they have accepted a concept of religion that identifies religion primarily with belief, ritual practice, and ecclesial institutions. Following recent scholarship, I suggest that religion is better conceived as a kind of culture. To conclude the essay, I gesture toward what the beginnings of a re-visioned debate about religion and liberal society might look like if one started from this revised conception of religion. (shrink)
This introduction sets the stage for four papers on Nicholas Wolterstorff's Justice: Rights and Wrongs , written by Harold Attridge, Oliver O'Donovan, Richard Bernstein, and myself. In his book, Wolterstorff defends an account of human rights. The first section of this introduction distinguishes Wolterstorff's account of rights from the alternative account of rights against which he contends. The alternative account draws much of its power from a historical narrative according to which theory and politics supplanted earlier ways of thinking (...) about justice. The second section sketches that narrative and Wolterstorff's counter-narrative. The third section draws together the main points of Wolterstorff's own account. (shrink)
Nicholas Wolterstorff: Practices of belief: selected essays, volume 2 (Terence Cuneo, ed.) Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 255-258 DOI 10.1007/s11153-011-9287-4 Authors Scott A. Davison, Philosophy Program, Morehead State University, 150 University Blvd., 354A Rader Hall, Morehead, KY 40351, USA Journal International Journal for Philosophy of Religion Online ISSN 1572-8684 Print ISSN 0020-7047 Journal Volume Volume 70 Journal Issue Volume 70, Number 3.
Ever since Ernst Cassirer in his epochal book Individuum und Kosmos in der Philosophie der Renaissance1 labeled Nicholas of Cusa “the first modern thinker,” interest in Cusa’s thought has burgeoned. At various times, both before and after Cassirer, Nicholas has been viewed as a forerunner of Leibniz,2 a harbinger of Kant,3 a prefigurer of Hegel,4 indeed, as an anticipator of the whole of..
We are in a state of impending crisis. And the fault lies in part with academia. For two centuries or so, academia has been devoted to the pursuit of knowledge and technological know-how. This has enormously increased our power to act which has, in turn, brought us both all the great benefits of the modern world and the crises we now face. Modern science and technology have made possible modern industry and agriculture, the explosive growth of the world’s population, global (...) warming, modern armaments and the lethal character of modern warfare, destruction of natural habitats and rapid extinction of species, immense inequalities of wealth and power across the globe, pollution of earth, sea and air, even the aids epidemic (aids being spread by modern travel). All these global problems have arisen because some of us have acquired unprecedented powers to act, via science and technology, without also acquiring the capacity to act wisely. (shrink)
Nicholas Maxwell takes on the ambitious project of explaining, both epistemologically and metaphysically, the physical universe and human existence within it. His vision is appealing; he unites the physical and the personal by means of the concepts of aim and value, which he sees as the keys to explaining traditional physical puzzles. Given the current popularity of theories of goal-oriented dynamical systems in biology and cognitive science, this approach is timely. But a large vision requires firm and nuanced arguments (...) to support it. Here Maxwell's work is weakest; his arguments for contingent mind-body identity and for free will, on which his larger theory depends, are inadequate. The book is valuable both for its comprehensive view of the human condition and its mysteries, and for its demonstration of the difficulties in making such a view coherent. (shrink)
This paper is a reaction to the book “Science and the Pursuit of Wisdom”, whose central concern is the philosophy of Nicholas Maxwell. I distinguish and discuss three concerns in Maxwell’s philosophy. The first is his critique of standard empiricism (SE) in the philosophy of science, the second his defense of aim-oriented rationality (AOR), and the third his philosophy of mind. I point at some problematic aspects of Maxwell’s rebuttal of SE and of his philosophy of mind and argue (...) in favor of AOR. (shrink)
Heyes's attempt to reinterpret research on primate cognition from the standpoint of radical behaviorism is strong on dialogue and debate but weak on evidence. Recent evidence concerning self-recognition, for example, shows that her arguments about differential recovery from anesthetization and species differences in face touching as alternative accounts of the behavior of primates in the presence of mirrors) are invalid.
I argue that Nicholas of Cusa agrees with Thomas Aquinas on the metaphysics of analogy in God, but differs on epistemology, taking a Platonic position against Aquinas’ Aristotelianism. As a result Cusa has to rethink Thomas’ solution to the problem of discourse about God. In De docta ignorantia he uses the mathematics of the infinite as a clue to the relations between a thing and its Measure and this allows him, he thinks, to adapt Aquinas’ approach to the problem (...) of his own epistemology. The resulting approach, I maintain, is coherent and reasonable if the metaphysical views behind it are. (shrink)
Three- to six-year-olds were given Heyes's proposed task and theory of mind tasks. Although they correlated, Heyes's was harder; only 50% of participants with a theory of mind reached a criterion of 75% correct. Because of the complex series of inferences involved in Heyes's task, it is possible that one could have a theory of mind and fail Heyes's version.
Three problems are raised for Nicholas Georgalis’s recent work: (1) a problem with regard to the supposed noninferential knowledge of minimal content, (2) a problem with the “necessary condition” Georgalis stipulates for the legitimate application of a first-person methodology to a science of the mind, and (3) a problem with regard to denying phenomenal content to intentional acts.
Cooper et al. (this issue) develop an interactive activation model of spatial and imitative compatibilities that simulates the key results from Catmur and Heyes (2011) and thus conclude that both compatibilities are mediated by the same processes since their single model can predict all the results. Although the model is impressive, the conclusions are premature because they are based on an incomplete review of the relevant literature and because the model includes some questionable assumptions. Moreover, a competing model (Scheutz (...) & Bertenthal, 2012) is introduced that suggests the two compatibilities are not mediated by the same processes. We propose that more research is necessary before concluding that spatial and imitative compatibilities are mediated by the same processes. (shrink)
On October 11, 2003, the Talk Reason website posted an article by Nicholas Matzke titled "Evolution in (Brownian) Space: A Model for the Origin of the Bacterial Flagellum" (http://www.talkreason.org/articles/flagellum.cfm). Talk Reason advertises itself as a website that presents a collection of articles which aim to defend genuine science from numerous attempts by the new crop of creationists to replace it with theistic pseudo-science under various disguises and names." The most obvious target here is intelligent design. Indeed, Matzke's article attempts (...) to rebut one of the main challenges that intelligent design has raised against Darwinian evolution, namely, how to explain the emergence of irreducibly complex biochemical machines like the bacterial flagellum. (shrink)
http://www.cla.umn.edu/jhopkins/ Taken together, twenty-four of these works constitute Nicholas of Cusa’s complete philosophical and theological treatises. They must be supplemented by studying his richly conceptual sermons, along with his ecclesiological and exegetical writings such as De Concordantia Catholica and Coniectura de Ultimis Diebus. His mathematical writings are also of interest, even though they are not of lasting importance, as Gottfried Leibniz rightly recognized.
Like any important philosophical work, De Docta Ignorantia cannot be understood by merely being read: it must be studied. For its main themes are so profoundly innovative that their author's exposition of them could not have anticipated, and therefore taken measures to prevent, all the serious misunderstandings which were likely to arise. Moreover, the themes are so extensively interlinked that a misunderstanding of any one of them will serve to obscure all the others as well. In such case, the mental (...) effort required of the reader-who-interprets must approximate the effort expended by the author-who- instructs. No words are more self-condemning than are those of John Wenck, at the conclusion of whose critique of De Docta Ignorantia we read: “Et sic est finis scriptis cursorie Heydelberg”: “And this is the end to what was written cursorily at Heidelberg.”1 Nicholas has not made his reader's task easy. For in spite of his claim to have explained matters “as clearly as I could” and to have avoided “all roughness of style,” many of his points escape even the diligent reader, since the explanation for them is either too condensed, or else too barbarously expressed, to be assuredly followed. And yet, from out of the vagueness, the ambiguity, the amphiboly, the enthymematic movement of thought, there emerges—for a reader patient enough to solliciter doucement les textes—an internally coherent pattern of reasoning. The present translation of this reasoning aims above all at accuracy.2 To this end the rendering is literal, though with no deliberate sacrifice of literate English expression. Only a literal translation (but not word for word) permits the subtle twists and turns of Nicholas's arguments to shine forth.3 The earlier, radically inaccurate rendering by Germain Heron (1954) distorts Nicholas's arguments— and thus belies history by making the author of De Docta Ignorantia appear as someone mindlessly unable to develop even the semblance of a systematic line of thought.. (shrink)
Using the theoretical constructs “biographical disruption” and “limit experience” and also methodological frameworks from autoethnography and discourse analysis, we discuss the divergent ways in which language and healing are conceptualized and performed, first in an American medical clinic and then by traditional healers in Kwara‘ae (Solomon Islands). Discourses at the Dallas clinic draw on allopathic and complementary medicine and in emphasizing a scientific approach to talk about illness and treatment, were found to create ambiguity in patients’ sense of their physical (...) and metaphysical identities. In contrast, Kwara‘ae healing involves disappearing into silence, in which the physical and metaphysical are never separated, and where healing occurs. (shrink)
The title of this present volume tends to be misleading. For it suggests that Nicholas’s didactic sermons are to be distinguished from his non-didactic ones—ones that are, say, more inspirational and less philosophical, or more devotional and less theological, or more situationally oriented and less Scripturally focused. Yet, in truth, all 293 of Nicholas’s sermons are highly didactic, highly pedagogical, highly exegetical.1 To be sure, there are inspirational and devotional elements; but they are subordinate to the primary purpose (...) of teaching. Likewise, only occasionally2 do the sermons show signs of addressing local circumstances that are idiosyncratic to the respective churches in Koblenz, Trier, Mainz, Augsburg, Frankfurt, Brixen, and Rome. Rather, their Scriptural focus more often than not yields up interpretations that are allegorical—or otherwise figurative—in a general way that allows Nicholas to draw inferences about the relationship between the intellect and the senses, about the unity of the virtues, the two natures in Christ, human freedom of will, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the inter-relationship of faith and reason, the triune nature of God, the role of conscience, the precepts of the natural law, time as the image of eternity, the four stages of a knowledge of God, Christ as Wisdom Incarnate, God as Beauty, the Holy Spirit as Love, … and so on. Each of the sermons contains more than one major theme, so that no sermon dwells at length upon a single topic so as to sound pedantic and inappropriately academic. On the contrary: in a limited measure Nicholas’s sermons tend to entice through their extensive display of original metaphor, of striking imagery, of fresh vocabulary, and of erudite knowledge of earlier writers such as Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Anselm, Albertus Magnus, and Meister Eckhart. (shrink)
Is there any such thing as the Cusan view of the relationship between faith and reason? That is, does Nicholas present us with clear concepts of fides and ratio and with a unique and consistent doctrine regarding their interconnection? If he does not, then the task before us is surely an impossible one: viz., the task of finding, describing, and setting in perspective a doctrine that never at all existed. For even with spectacles made of beryl stone or through (...) the looking glass of Lewis Carroll, we could not descry the totally nonexistent. Four lines of argument purport to show that the task before us is fundamentally impossible. 1. First of all, it may be argued (a) that Nicholas of Cusa can have a coherent doctrine of faith and reason only if he has a generally coherent theory of knowledge and (b) that since his theory of knowledge is generally incoherent, so too must be the aforesaid doctrine, which is an intrinsic part of the theory of knowledge. Let us grant—for the sake of the argument—the disputable logic of this reasoning, and let us focus on the question of whether Nicholas does or does not have a viable general theory of knowledge. Many philosophers judge the theory to be unviable. For example, the philosopher Hans Blumenberg writes: “I will not make what I believe would have to be a futile attempt at a unitary interpretation of the Cusan theory of knowledge. Here in particular the inner consistency of his philosophical accomplishment is doubtful. The reason for this can be specified: it lies, again, in the inability to deal with or successfully to evade the consequences of nominalism.”2 Other philosophers are quick to agree that Cusa’s epistemology consists of a host of glaring contradictions: Cusa’s theory of representative perception is said to be incompatible with his doctrine of homo mensura—i.e., with his doctrine that man is the measure of the reality that is perceived and conceived by him. Cusa’s notion that empirical concepts are abstracted from perceptual and imaginative images is asserted to be contradicted by his further claim that all concepts are derived a pri- ori from the mind itself.. (shrink)
With the English translation of the two Latin works contained in this present book, which is a sequel to Nicholas of Cusa: Metaphysical Speculations: [Volume One],1 I have now translated all2 of the major treatises and dialogues of Nicholas of Cusa (1401-1464), except for De Concordantia Catholica.3 My plans call for collecting, in the near future, these translations into a two-volume paperback edition—i.e., into a Reader—that will serve, more generally, students of the history of philosophy and theology. Reasons (...) of economy dictate that footnotes and introductory analyses be left aside, so that the prospective Reader cannot be thought of as a replacement for the more scholarly previously published volumes. (shrink)
By permission of The Gale Group, this article is reprinted (here on-line) from “Nicholas of Cusa,” pp. 122-125, Volume 9 of the Dictionary of the Middle Ages, edited by Joseph R. Strayer (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1987 ). The short bibliography at the end of the original article has been omitted; and the page numbers of the article are here changed.
Procuramos, neste artigo, apresentar a reflexão de Nicolau de Cusa sobre a Trindade, em dois dos seus textos: De coniecturis e De visione dei. Nesses dois livros, a Trindade recebe uma série de outras designações diferentes daquelas que aparecem nas citações bíblicas ou, como ele próprio afirma, diferentes das usadas pelos nossos doutores. Nesse sentido, objetivamos mostrar, também, que as expressões da Trindade podem ser lidas como expressões do amor no pensamento do filósofo alemão. We seek in this paper to (...) present the Nicholas of Cusa's reflexion on the Trinity in two of his works: De coniecturis and De visione dei. In these two books the Trinity receives several different designations from those which appear in biblical citations or, as he affirms, different designations from those used by our doctors. In this regard, our objective is to show also that the expressions of the Trinity can be read as the expressions of the Love in the thought of the German philosopher. (shrink)
This paper argues that Nicholas of Cusa’s investigation of infinity and incommensurability in De docta ignorantia was shaped by the mathematical innovations and thought experiments of fourteenth-century natural philosophy. Cusanus scholarship has overlooked this influence, in part because Raymond Klibansky’s influential edition of De docta ignorantia situated Cusa within the medieval Platonic tradition. However, Cusa departs from this tradition in a number of ways. His willingness to engage incommensurability and to compare different magnitudes of infinity distinguishes him from his (...) Platonic predecessors, who had appropriated the Pythagorean model of universal harmonies. Cusa’s penchant for representing quantity geometrically suggests not only that he has adopted the fourteenth-century method of latitude measurement, but that he accepts incommensurability as normative. Finally, Cusa’s persistent attention to mathematical inaccuracy and to his own learned ignorance suggests his kinship with the meta-critical, conjectural quality of fourteenth-century thought. (shrink)
This paper examines some aspects of the cultural codes implied in the iconography of St Nicholas (Santa Claus). The argument posits the iconography of St Nicholas as a vessel for capturing meanings and accumulating them in the construction of public culture. The discussion begins from the earliest developments of the Christian era and proceeds to contemporary depictions (imagology). The study is conducted on the basis of a representative selection of renditions of Saint Nicholas, including 350 pictures of (...) medieval representations (Western and Eastern Christianity), folk extensions and secular representations and it is theoretically grounded in the Tartu School of semiotics. (shrink)