We have two aims in this paper. The first is to provide the reader with a critical guide to recent work on relativity and persistence by Balashov, Gilmore and others. Much of this work investigates whether endurantism can be sustained in the context of relativity. Several arguments have been advanced that aim to show that it cannot. We find these unpersuasive, and will add our own criticisms to those we review. Our second aim, which complements the first, is to (...) demarcate the most defensible form of relativistic endurantism (and similarly, of perdurantism). A recurring theme of this paper is that even those philosophers who do worry about relativity have not taken it seriously enough. (shrink)
In a companion paper (Pooley & Brown 2001) it is argued that Julian Barbour's Machian approach to dynamics provides a genuinely relational interpretation of Newtonian dynamics and that it is more explanatory than the conventional, substantival interpretation. In this paper the extension of the approach to relativistic physics is considered. General relativity, it turns out, can be reinterpreted as a perfectly Machian theory. However, there are difficulties with viewing the Machian interpretation as more fundamental than the conventional, spacetime (...) interpretation. Moreover, this state of affairs provides little solace for the relationist for, even when interpreted along Machian lines, general relativity is a substantival theory although the basic entity is space, not spacetime. (shrink)
Substantivalists believe that spacetime and its parts are fundamental constituents of reality. Relationalists deny this, claiming that spacetime enjoys only a derivative existence. I begin by describing how the Galilean symmetries of Newtonian physics tell against both Newton's brand of substantivalism and the most obvious relationalist alternative. I then review the (now) obvious substantivalist response to the problem, which is to ditch substantival space for substantival spacetime. The resulting position has many affinities with what are arguably the most natural (...) interpretations of special and general relativity. I move on to consider and reject two recent antisubstantivalist lines of thought. The interim conclusion is that the best argument for relationalism is an appeal to Ockham's razor. However, for this to be successful there must be genuine relationalist theories that share the theoretical virtues of their substantivalist rivals but without the additional ontological commitment. The bulk of the paper is therefore an investigation of various concrete relationalist proposals. I distinguish three options for the relationalist in the face of the success of Galilean invariant physics and trace how these generalise to relativistic physics. One of the options (Barbour's Machian approach to dynamics) is particularly promising but, since its basic objects end up being spacetime points, this does not help the prospects of relationalism as traditionally conceived. I end with some reflections on the fate of substantivalism in the aftermath of the Hole Argument, concluding that we have as yet to be given good reasons to abandon the natural, substantivalist interpretation of current physics. (shrink)
The implications for the substantivalist–relationalist controversy of Barbour and Bertotti's successful implementation of a Machian approach to dynamics are investigated. It is argued that in the context of Newtonian mechanics, the Machian framework provides a genuinely relational interpretation of dynamics and that it is more explanatory than the conventional, substantival interpretation. In a companion paper (Pooley [2002a]), the viability of the Machian framework as an interpretation of relativistic physics is explored. 1 Introduction 2 Newton versus Leibniz 3 Absolute space (...) versus an affine connection 4 Anti-relationalist arguments 5 Rehabilitating relationalism 6 Dynamics on the relative configuration space 7 Intrinsic particle dynamics 8 Conclusion. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the `Lorentzian Pedagogy' defended by J.S. Bell in his essay ``How to teach special relativity'', and to explore its consistency with Einstein's thinking from 1905 to 1952. Some remarks are also made in this context on Weyl's philosophy of relativity and his 1918 gauge theory. Finally, it is argued that the Lorentzian pedagogy---which stresses the important connection between kinematics and dynamics---clarifies the role of rods and clocks in general relativity.
This is a copy of my DPhil thesis, the abstract for which is as follows: The first third of this thesis argues for a B-theoretic conception of time according to which all times exist equally and the present is in no way privileged. I distinguish "ontological" A-theories from "non-ontological" ones, arguing that the latter are experientially unmotivated and barely coherent. With regard to the former, I focus mainly on presentism. After some remarks on how to formulate this (and eternalism) (...) non-trivially, I review the non-relativistic case against presentism. I then consider the impact of Special Relativity on the debate, and attempt to deepen this impact by supplying a modal variation on the standard arguments. The middle third of the thesis investigates persistence, contending that both endurance and perdurance are consonant with the eternalism already endorsed. After introducing these theories of persistence, and discussing in particular how best to formulate an eternalist endurance, I proceed to defend the coherence of this combination. The Problem of Change is addressed here. I then respond in some detail to recent allegations of relativistic threats to endurance. The final third of the thesis questions the validity of the endurantist-perdurantist dispute. I criticize two recently proposed translation schemes that aim to show this dispute to be non-substantive. However, the second scheme suggests a doctrine of "Ontological Equivalence" which I develop and consider. I then address the Rotating Discs Argument, using this to launch a discussion of identity, genidentity, and the relationship between them. (shrink)
Julian Barbour's approach to dynamics is reviewed. With a particular focus on questions of explanation and confirmation, the approach is contrasted with standard formulations of dynamics. This paper expands upon my commentary on Lawrence Sklar's paper at the Philosophy of Time Society meeting at the APA's Central Division meeting in Chicago, April 2004. Although a commentary, the current paper is comprehensible without reference to Sklar's paper.
Is the objective passage of time compatible with relativistic physics? There are two easy routes to an affirmative answer: (1) provide a deflationary analysis of passage compatible with the block universe or (2) argue that a privileged global present is compatible with relativity. (1) does not take passage seriously. (2) does not take relativity seriously. This paper is concerned with the viability of views that seek to take both passage and relativity seriously. The investigation proceeds by (...) considering how traditional A-theoretic conceptions of passage might be generalised to relativistic spacetimes without incorporating a privileged global present. I argue that the most promising position marries the idea that open possibilities for the future are settled as time passes with a `non-standard' interpretation of the relevant formal models. (shrink)
In the post-Newtonian world motion is assumed to be a simple category which relates to the locomotion of bodies in space, and is usually associated only with physics. Philosophy, God and Motion shows that this is a relatively recent understanding of motion and that prior to the scientific revolution motion was a much broader and more mysterious category, applying to moral as well as physical movements. SimonOliver presents fresh interpretations of key figures in the history of (...) western thought including Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas and Newton, examining the thinkers' handling of the concept of motion. Through close readings of seminal texts in ancient and medieval cosmology and early modern natural philosophy, the book moves from antique to modern times investigating how motion has been of great significance within theology, philosophy and science. Particularly important is the relation between motion and God, following Aristotle traditional doctrines of God have understood the divine as the 'unmoved mover' while post-Holocaust theologians have suggested that in order to be compassionate God must undergo the motion of suffering. Philosophy, God and Motion suggests that there may be an authentically theological, as well as a natural scientific understanding of motion. (shrink)
Gibson, Robin The concept of dying by euthanasia and indeed physician-assisted suicide is a highly emotive one. Assisted dying arouses intense feelings both in favour and against. The prospect of enduring a long drawn out dying process generates both fear and apprehension in both terminally ill and chronically ill patients. Many of them wish to choose the time and manner of their death. On the other side, passionate, mainly religious groups have campaigned long and hard to deny suffering people (...) assistance to die. As the law currently stands in Australia, there is a complete ban on both euthanasia and assistance in suicide. Even following a request by a patient, a medical practitioner who directly takes the life of his or her patient, can be charged with murder or manslaughter. Despite the repeal of laws that forbade committing or attempting to commit suicide, laws still exist which proscribe the provision of assistance to another to commit or attempt to commit suicide. (shrink)
Metaphysics and Transcendence takes up this story for the future. Arthur Gibson presents a new metaphysicswith a genealogy based on counter-intuition and locates counter-intuition and complexity at the foundations of truth. Having devised fresh concepts on the basis of the new frontiers of science and philosophy, the author presents original explanations of transcendence arguing that just as we need revolutionary and original ways of depicting the physical world, so it is with such topics as (...) God, miracles, the resurrection, the source and identity of consciousness and reason itself. (shrink)
Background Regionalised models of health care delivery have important implications for people with disabilities and chronic illnesses yet the ethical issues surrounding disability and regionalisation have not yet been explored. Although there is ethics-related research into disability and chronic illness, studies of regionalisation experiences, and research directed at improving health systems for these patient populations, to our knowledge these streams of research have not been brought together. Using the Canadian province of Ontario as a case study, we address this (...) gap by examining the ethics of regionalisation and the implications for people with disabilities and chronic illnesses. The critical success factors we provide have broad applicability for guiding and/or evaluating new and existing regionalised health care strategies. Discussion Ontario is in the process of implementing fourteen Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs). The implementation of the LHINs provides a rare opportunity to address systematically the unmet diverse care needs of people with disabilities and chronic illnesses. The core of this paper provides a series of composite case vignettes illustrating integration opportunities relevant to these populations, namely: (i) rehabilitation and services for people with disabilities; (ii) chronic illness and cancer care; (iii) senior's health; (iv) community support services; (v) children's health; (vi) health promotion; and (vii) mental health and addiction services. For each vignette, we interpret the governing principles developed by the LHINs – equitable access based on patient need, preserving patient choice, responsiveness to local population health needs, shared accountability and patient-centred care – and describe how they apply. We then offer critical success factors to guide the LHINs in upholding these principles in response to the needs of people with disabilities and chronic illnesses. Summary This paper aims to bridge an important gap in the literature by examining the ethics of a new regionalisation strategy with a focus on the implications for people with disabilities and chronic illnesses across multiple sites of care. While Ontario is used as a case study to contextualize our discussion, the issues we identify, the ethical principles we apply, and the critical success factors we provide have broader applicability for guiding and evaluating the development of – or revisions to – a regionalised health care strategy. (shrink)
Results from two self-paced reading experiments in English are reported in which subject- and object-extracted relative clauses (SRCs and ORCs, respectively) were presented in contexts that support both types of relative clauses (RCs). Object-extracted versions were read more slowly than subject-extracted versions across both experiments. These results are not consistent with a decay-based working memory account of dependency formation where the amount of decay is a function of the number of new discourse referents that intervene between the dependents ( (...) class='Hi'>Gibson, 1998; Warren & Gibson, 2002). Rather, these results support interference-based accounts and decay-based accounts where the amount of decay depends on the number of words or on the type of noun phrases that intervene between the dependents. In Experiment 2, presentation in supportive contexts was directly contrasted with presentation in null contexts. Whereas in the null context the extraction effect was only observed during the RC region, in a supportive context the extraction effect was numerically larger and persisted into the following region, thus showing that extraction effects are enhanced in supportive contexts. A sentence completion study demonstrated that the rate of SRCs versus ORCs was similar across null and supportive contexts (with most completions being subject-extractions), ruling out the possibility that an enhanced extraction effect in supportive contexts is due to ORCs being less expected in such contexts. However, the content of the RCs differed between contexts in the completions, such that the RCs produced in supportive contexts were more constrained, reflecting the lexical and semantic content of the preceding context. This effect, which we discuss in terms of expectations/lexico-syntactic priming, suggests that the enhancement of the extraction effect in supportive contexts is due to the facilitation of the subject-extracted condition. (shrink)
This enterprising book, written in the spirit of William James, urges our appreciation of the intensely personal character of spiritual transcendence. Phil Oliver's work has important implications for specialists concerned with the Jamesian concept of "pure experience," and it illuminates significant interdisciplinary ties among philosophy, literature, and other intellectual domains.
Agamben maintains that Heidegger continues the work of the anthropological machine by defining Dasein as uniquely open to the closedness of the animal. Yet, Agamben’s own thinking does not so much open up the concept of animal as it attempts to save humanity from the anthropological machine that always produces the animal as the constitutive outside within the human itself. Agamben’s return to religious metaphors at best displaces the binary man-animal with the binary religion-science, and at worst returns us (...) to a discourse at least as violent as the one from which he is trying to escape. Merleau-Ponty’s reanimation of science provides an alternative. (shrink)
Astronomical observations of redshifts and the cosmic background radiation show that there is a local frame of reference relative to which the solar system has a well-defined velocity. Also, in cosmology the cosmological principle implies the existence of cosmic time and unique local reference frames at all spacetime points. On the other hand, in a fundamental postulate, the theory of special relativity excludes the possibility of the velocity of the Earth from entering into theories of local physics.The theory put forward (...) in this paper resolves this conflict between local physics and cosmology. The theory retains the essential ingredient of the mathematical structure of special relativity, namely covariance under the Lorentz symmetry group, but changes radically the interpretation of the physical significance of the Lorentz transformation. The theory is based on the postulate that in free space the fundamental interactions in physics are propagated with constant velocity with respect to the local rest frame. In Minkowski spacetime the local rest frame of reference defines a unique time axis and consequently a unique three-dimensional spatial hyperplane. One particularly important result of this is that the theory includes the classical notion of simultaneity. From the fundamental postulate it follows that the equations of local physics, when expressed in terms of the rest frame coordinate system, must be covariant under the Lorentz symmetry group. By the identification of the local rest frame with the (unique) cosmological local reference frame the two theories become mutually consistent.The effects of the motion of the Earth on laboratory experiments are discussed. It is pointed out that existing experimental data do not discriminate between the present theory and that of special relativity: a proposal for an experimental test is made. (shrink)
In his paper ``What is Structural Realism?'' James Ladyman drew a distinction between epistemological structural realism and metaphysical (or ontic) structural realism. He also drew a suggestive analogy between the perennial debate between substantivalist and relationalist interpretations of spacetime on the one hand, and the debate about whether quantum mechanics treats identical particles as individuals or as `non-individuals' on the other. In both cases, Ladyman's suggestion is that an ontic structural realist interpretation of the physics might be just what is (...) needed to overcome the stalemate. The main thesis of this paper is that, whatever the interpretative difficulties of generally covariant spacetime physics are, they do not support or suggest structural realism. In particular, I hope to show that there is in fact no analogy that supports a similar interpretation of the metaphysics of spacetime points and of quantum particles. (shrink)
It is argued that Minkowski space-time cannot serve as the deep structure within a ``constructive'' version of the special theory of relativity, contrary to widespread opinion in the philosophical community.
Doubts are raised concerning Rickles' claim that ``an exact analog of the hole argument can be constructed in the loop representation of quantum gravity'' (Rickles, `A new spin on the hole argument', Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 36 (2005) 415–434).
In the first part of this paper a relational account of incongruent counterparts is defended against an argument due to Kant. I then consider a more recent attack on such an account, due to John Earman, which alleges that the relationalist cannot account for the lawlike left--right asymmetry manifested in parity-violating phenomena. I review Hoefer's, Huggett's and Saunders' responses to Earman's argument and argue that, while a relationalist account of parity-violating laws is possible, it comes at the cost of non-locality.
In an earlier work I developed an argument favoring one view of persistence (viz., perdurance) over its rivals, based on considerations of the relativity of three-dimensional spatial shapes of physical objects in Minkowski spacetime. The argument has since come under criticism (in the works of Theodore Sider, Kristie Miller, Ian Gibson, OliverPooley, and Thomas Sattig). Two related topics, explanatory virtues and explanatory relevance, are central to these critical discussions. In this paper I deal with these (...) topics directly and respond to my critics by offering a new perspective on the issue. (shrink)
Glenberg's rethinking of memory theory seems limited in its ability to handle abstract symbolic thought, the selective character of cognition, and the self. Glenberg's framework can be elaborated by linking it with theoretical efforts concerned with cognitive development (Piaget) and ecological perception (Gibson). These elaborations point to the role of memory in specifying the self as an active agent.
When Ian Hacking won the Holberg International Memorial Prize 2009 his candidature was said to strengthen the legitimacy of the prize after years of controversy. Ole Jacob Madsen, Johannes Servan and Simen Andersen Øyen have talked to Ian Hacking about current questions in the philosophy and history of science.
Something of the relation of my work on substance concepts to Gibsonian theories of perception–action is discussed. What historical relations tie a particular substance concept to a particular substance is discussed.
This article addresses the apparent tension in O’Donovan’s overall argument in The Ways of Judgment (2005): a tension between his constructive account of judgement (central to Parts I and II), and his endorsement of Jesus’ injunction not to judge (central to Part III). After clarifying exactly what kind of judgement O’Donovan intends in identifying judgement as the core political practice, the article highlights a few key aspects of O’Donovan’s political theology that might mitigate, or even take away, the tension in (...) his argument. The article then goes on to address a remaining issue, namely that O’Donovan seems to imply that Christians are to judge only in private, thereby leaving all public judgement to the secular authorities. In response to this impression the article will affirm, in the light of Rom. 12:1-8, that the church does exercise public judgement, by corporately discerning, formulating and enacting the implications of God’s judgement in Christ. (shrink)
Amazon.com Love, fear, hope, calculus, and game shows-how do all these spring from a few delicate pounds of meat? Neurophysiologist Ian Glynn lays the foundation for answering this question in his expansive An Anatomy of Thought, but stops short of committing to one particular theory. The book is a pleasant challenge, presenting the reader with the latest research and thinking about neuroscience and how it relates to various models of consciousness. Combining the aim of a textbook with the (...) style of a popularization, it provides all the lay reader needs to know to participate in the philosophical debate that is redefining our attitudes about our minds. Drawing on the rich history of neurological case studies, Glynn picks through the building blocks of our nervous system, examines our visual and linguistic systems, and probes deeply into our higher thought processes. The stories of great scientists, like Ramon y Cajal, and famous patients, like Sperry's split-brained epileptics, illuminate the scientific issues Glynn selects as essential for understanding consciousness. Some might argue that his lengthy explorations of natural selection overemphasize evolutionary explanations of psychological phenomena, but they must also agree that evolutionary psychology has distanced itself mightily from social Darwinism in recent years and merits a reappraisal. The great consciousness debate may form the core of the 21st-century Zeitgeist; get ready for it with An Anatomy of Thought. -Rob Lightner From Publishers Weekly How do we know? What do we think? How could a philosophical problem-'the mind-body problem,' say-induce a headache? What can evolutionary theory, molecular biology, the history of medicine and experimental psychology tell us about the features of human consciousness, and (once again) how do we know? Glynn, a physician and Cambridge University professor, meticulously attempts to answer these questions and more, setting forth the results of all sorts of research relevant to our brains-from 19th-century dissections to Oliver Sacks-like case studies, work with monkeys and supercomputers, and the enduring puzzles of philosophy, which he rightly saves for near the end. After explaining evolution by natural selection and 'clearing away much dross,' Glynn lays out the experiments and theories that have shown 'how nerve cells can carry information about the body, how they can interact' and how sense organs work; demonstrates the 'mixture of parallel and hierarchical organization' in our brains and 'the striking localization of function within it'; considers where neuroscience is likely to go; and admits that, among the many fields of exciting research just ahead, 'we can be least confident of progress toward a complete, scientific explanation of our sensations and thoughts and feelings.' Other recent explaining-the-brain books have sometimes advanced simplistic, or implausibly grand, claims about the nature and features of consciousness in general. Instead, Glynn offers a patient, informative, well-laid-out researcher's-eye view of what we have learned, how we figured it out and what we still don't know about neurons, senses, feelings, brains and minds. (Apr.) Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. From Library Journal The nature of consciousness, which perennially troubles the minds of scientists and philosophers, is the subject of an ever-growing body of literature. Two of the latest entries approach the topic from different perspectives. Glynn, a professor of physiology and head of the Physiological Laboratory at Cambridge, offers a comprehensive summary of what we know about the brain-both its evolution and its mechanisms. Among the topics he covers are natural selection, molecular evolution, nerves and the nervous system, sensory perception, and the specific structures responsible for our intellect. Using the mechanisms involved in vision and speech as models, Glynn skillfully describes various neurological deficiencies that can lead to 'disordered seeing' and problems with the use of language. He carefully distinguishes what we know through experimental evidence from what we know through the observation of patients with neurological damage. He also describes some of the major theories that attempt to explain why these structures arose. While his book concentrates on the structures that make up the mind, Glynn is well aware that some physical events appear explicable only in terms of conscious mental events-a situation that conflicts with the laws of modern physics. Only briefly, however, does he consider the various approaches that have been taken to deal with the issues of mind/body and free will. In contrast, this is the primary focus of The Physics of Consciousness. After reviewing the fundamentals of classic physics, Walker (who has a Ph.D. in physics) summarizes elements of the new physics in which our knowledge of space, time, matter, and energy are all dependent on the moment of observation. Walker explores the meaning of consciousness as a characteristic of the observer. In this context both the observer and the act of measurement are critical. In essence, Walker leads his reader on a journey through his concept of a 'quantum mind,' which can both affect matter (including other minds) and can be affected by other distant matter/minds. To break up what would otherwise be an extremely dense text, Walker also relates the very touching story of the loss of his high-school sweetheart to leukemia. Indeed, it is his memory of their relationship that drives Walker to seek an understanding of ultimate reality. At times, he has a tendency to be dogmatic-as when he concludes, 'our consciousness, our mind, and the will of God are the same mind.' While An Anatomy of Thought is appropriate for most academic libraries, the Physics of Consciousness will be most accessible to readers with some knowledge of advanced physics. -Laurie Bartolini, Illinois State Lib., Springfield Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. From Booklist The codiscoverers of natural selection-Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace-disagreed over the possibility of finding an evolutionary explanation for the human mind. Glynn here argues Darwin's side of the debate, tracing an eons-long path of development starting from simple amino acids floating in primal seas and extending through the erect hominids in which the powers of a massive brain first manifest themselves. Patiently adducing evidence of an evolutionary origin for the underlying molecular machinery, Glynn dissects the nerve centers that make possible speech and hearing, sight, and reading. Pressing deeper, he lays bare the cortical foundations of personality. But those who deal with the mind must attend also to the arguments advanced by philosophers. And it is when he turns from dendrites to syllogisms (especially the vexing mind-body paradox) that Glynn's empirical reasoning fails him. In the end, he concedes his perplexity in trying to conceive of an evolutionary origin for human consciousness. This concession may set the shade of Alfred Wallace to chortling, but it will draw readers into an honest confrontation with a profound enigma. Bryce Christensen. (shrink)
Gibson developed the affordance concept to complement his theory of direct perception that stands in sharp contrast with the prevalent inferential theories of perception. A comparison of the two approaches shows that the distinction between them also has an ontological aspect. We trace the history and newer formalizations of the notion of affordance and discuss some competing opinions on its scope. Next, empirical work on the affordance concept is reviewed in brief and the relevance of dynamical systems theory (...) to affordance research is demonstrated. Finally, the striking but often neglected convergence of the ideas of Gibson and those of certain Continental philosophers is discussed. (shrink)
Unlike most other sciences, psychology has no true core theory to guide a coherent research programme. It does have James J Gibson’s ecological approach to visual perception, however, which we suggest should serve as an example of the benefits a good theory brings to psychological research. Here we focus on an example of how the ecological approach has served as a guide to discovery, shaping and constraining a recent hypothesis about how humans perform coordinated rhythmic movements (Bingham 2004a, b). (...) Early experiments on this task were framed in a dynamic pattern approach. This phenomenological, behavioural framework (e.g. Jeka & Kelso 1989) classifies the behaviour of complex action systems in terms of the key order parameters, and describes the dynamical stability of the system as it responds to perturbations. Dynamical systems, however, while a valuable toolkit, is not a theory of behaviour, and this style of research is unable to successfully predict data it is not explicitly designed to fit. More recent work by Bingham & colleagues has used dynamical systems to formalise hypotheses derived from Gibson’s ecological approach to perception and action, with a particular emphasis on perceptual information. The resulting model (Bingham 2001, 2004a, b; Snapp-Childs et al. 2011) has had great success with both the phenomena it was designed to explain as well as a wide range of empirical results from a version of the task it is not specifically designed to explain (specifically, learning a novel coordination). This model and the research programme that produced it stand as an example of the value of theory driven research, and we use it to illustrate the contemporary importance the ecological approach has for psychology. (shrink)
“The Will to Believe” defines the religious question as forced, living and momentous, but even in this article James asserts that more objective factors are involved. The competing religious hypotheses must both be equally coherent and correspond to experimental data to an equal degree. Otherwise the option is not a live one. “If I say to you ‘Be a theosophist or be a Mohammedan’, it is probably a dead option, because for you neither hypothesis is likely to be alive.” James, (...) WB, p. 3. Analogously, in A Pluralistic Universe James is at pains to convince the reader that his own religious hypothesis is just as “objective,” makes just as much sense, etc. as alternative possibilities: the “only thing I emphatically insist upon is that it [pluralistic pantheism] is a fully coordinate hypothesis with monism. This world may, in the last resort, be a block universe; but on the other hand, it may be a universe only strung along, not rounded in and closed. Reality may exist distributively just as it sensibly seems to, after all. On that possibility I do insist.”William James, A Pluralistic Universe (New York: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1909) p. 328.Here, once again, before the will to believe can be employed, the objective factors of competing hypotheses, their equal coherence and correspondence, must be brought out.When reconstructed, James' overall outlook has a “qausi Kuhnian” taint to it- though obvious differences remain. Much of what goes on in evaluating competing scientific hypotheses is either not forced, or not living, or not momentous, but rather “typical,” “dead,” and “avoidable,” in short very “normal.” But there are moments in the history of science where the decision between hypotheses might well be forced, living and momentous, and sometimes James comes close to recognizing this.Analogously, a good deal of what goes on in religion is not forced, not living or not momentous - in short it is all too “normal”. In The Varieties of Religious Experience for example, James proposes to ignore the institutional branch of the religious domain and to concentrate on personal and psychological factors, his reason being that the institutional aspect concentrates on the routine, the normal. “Worship and sacrifice, procedures for working on the dispositions of the deity, theology and ceremony and ecclesiastical organization, are the essentials of religion in the institutional branch. Were we to limit our view to it, we should have to define religion as an external art, the art of winning the favor of the gods.” James, VRE, p. 29. and again “The word ‘religion,’ as ordinarily used, is equivocal. A survey of history shows us that, as a rule, religious geniuses attract disciples, and produce groups of sympathizers. When these groups get strong enough to ‘organize’ themselves, they become ecclesiastical institutions with corporate ambitions of their own. The spirit of politics and the lust of dogmatic rule are then apt to enter and to contaminate the originally innocent thing; so that when we hear the word ‘religion’ nowadays, we think inevitably of some ‘church’ or other.” Clearly here religion has a normal, i.e. trivial side, just as does science. On the other hand, there are revolutionary moments in religion, such as that of choosing between theism and materialism in Pragmatism, or choosing among theism, monistic pantheism and pluralistic pantheism in A Pluralistic Universe. Such moments involve the will to believe and are clearly more personal than their counterparts in the domain of normal institutionalized religion. Going further, there are no doubt differences of degree between the will to believe decisions in science and the will to believe decisions in religion. These have been explicated in more specific terms by Ian Barbour in his article, “Paradigms in Science and Religion.” ...each of the ‘subjective’ features of science... is more evident in the case of religion: (1) the influence of interpretation on data, (2) the resistance of comprehensive theories of falsification, and (3) the absence of rules for choice among paradigms. Each of the corresponding ‘objective’ features of science is less evident in the case of religion: (1) the presence of common data on which disputants can agree, (2) the cumulative effect of evidence for or against a theory, and (3) the existence of criteria which are not paradigm-dependent. It is clear that in all three respects religion is a more ‘subjective’ enterprise than science. But in each case there is a difference of degree - not an absolute contrast between an ‘objective’ science and a ‘subjective’ religion. Ian Barbour, “Paradigms in Science and Religion,” in Paradigms and Revolutions, edited by Gary Gutting (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1980) pp. 242–43. Barbour correctly notes that the “...choice is not between religion and science, but between theism, pantheism, and naturalism, let us say, as each is expressed in a particular historical tradition. No basic beliefs are capable of demonstrable proof.”Ibid., p. 243. James sometimes comes close to recognizing this but his oscillation on the status of the everyday world of common sense, or the perceptual world, causes him not to see the issue clearly. When the animated world of the perceptual is taken as the all inclusive ‘really real,’ science is viewed as an abstract, second class citizen. But James offers what we would consider a more sophisticated and adequate perspective when he views the world of common sense, having become linguistified, as itself suspicious, and consequently views all three tiers - common sense, scholastic philosophy, and science - as “regional ontologies”, or “language games” in Wittgenstein's terminologySee Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, translated by G.E.M. Anscombe (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1953), paragraph 7, paragraph 23. For the notion of “regional ontology” see Edmund Husserl, Ideas, translated by W.R. Boyce Gibson (New York: Collier Books, Macmillan Publishing Company, Inc., 1962) p. 57ff; p. 158ff. - and opposes all three to a more primordial or prereflexive level. When James takes this second approach it is easier to see that the basic distinction he began to make in “The Will to Believe” was between the scientific and religious domain where the will to believe was to be employed, and the domain of “ordinary” religion and science. Finally this position anticipates his ultimate metaphysical outlook, viz. “pure experience” as approachable through language on a series of diverse regional levels, but nonetheless not completely describable within language. It is important to recall that in The Varieties of Religious Experience James distinguishes between the science of religions and what he calls living religion: [T] he science of religions may not be an equivalent for living religion; and if we turn to the inner difficulties of such a science, we see that a point comes when she must drop the purely theoretic attitude, and either let her knots remain uncut, or have them cut by active faith. James, VRE, p. 489. The study of religion, in short is not the activity of religion; the latter is animated, personal, and, we would argue, necessitates a commitment in terms of the will to believe. Once again, however, James hesitates over offering the same two-fold delineation in other areas of science. On the one hand he tells the reader that “science-has ended by utterly repudiating the personal point of view.”Ibid., p. 491. On the other hand, he offers the following comment a few pages later on in a footnote: ...the divorce between scientist facts and religious facts may not necessarily be as eternal as it at first sight seems, nor the personalism and romanticism of the world, as they appeared to primitive thinking, be matters so irrevocably outgrown. The final opinion may, in short, in some manner now impossible to forsee, revert to the more personal style, just as any path of progress may follow a spiral rather than a straight line. If this were so, the rigorously impersonal view of science might one day appear as having been a temporarily useful eccentricity rather than the definitely triumphant position which the sectarian scientist at present so confidently announces it to be.Ibid., p. 501, Footnote. The burden of this paper has been to indicate that when James' two-fold outlook on perception and/or common sense is properly reconstructed, the raproachment between science and religion is not so “impossible to forsee.”. (shrink)
What’s Darwin got to do with it? The role of evolutionary theory in psychiatry Content Type Journal Article Category Review Essay Pages 1-12 DOI 10.1007/s10539-011-9301-3 Authors Ian Ravenscroft, Philosophy Department, Flinders University, Adelaide, SA, Australia Journal Biology and Philosophy Online ISSN 1572-8404 Print ISSN 0169-3867.
In his ecological approach to perception, james gibson introduced the concept of affordance to refer to the perceived meaning of environmental objects and events. this paper examines the relational and causal character of affordances, as well as the grounds for extending affordances beyond environmental features with transcultural meaning to include those features with culturally-specific meaning. such an extension is seen as warranted once affordances are grounded in an intentional analysis of perception. toward this end, aspects of merleau-ponty's (...) treatment of perception are explored. finally, a resolution of the apparent tension between the relational and perceiver-independent nature of affordances is presented. (shrink)