Emotions are the focus of intense debate both in contemporary philosophy and psychology, and increasingly also in the history of ideas. Simo Knuuttila presents a comprehensive survey of philosophical theories of emotion from Plato to Renaissance times, combining rigorous philosophical analysis with careful historical reconstruction. The first part of the book covers the conceptions of Plato and Aristotle and later ancient views from Stoicism to Neoplatonism and, in addition, their reception and transformation by early Christian thinkers from Clement and (...) Origen to Augustine and Cassian. Knuuttila then proceeds to a discussion of ancient themes in medieval thought, and of new medieval conceptions, codified in the so-called faculty psychology from Avicenna to Aquinas, in thirteenth century taxonomies, and in the voluntarist approach of Duns Scotus, William Ockham, and their followers. Philosophers, classicists, historians of philosophy, historians of psychology, and anyone interested in emotion will find much to stimulate them in this fascinating book. (shrink)
The idea of a higher level phenomenon having a downward causal influence on a lower level process or entity has taken a variety of forms. In order to discuss the relation between emergence and downward causation, the specific variety of the thesis of downward causation (DC) must be identified. Based on some ontological theses about inter-level relations, types of causation and the possibility of reduction, three versions of DC are distinguished. Of these, the `Strong' form of DC is held to (...) be in conflict with contemporary science; the `Medium' version of DC may for instance describe thoughts constraining neurophysiological states, while the `Weak' form of DC is physically acceptable but may not in practice be a feasible description of the mind/brain or the cell/molecule relation. All forms have their specific problems, but the Medium and the Weak version seems to be most promising. (shrink)
This article considers three medieval approaches to the problem of future contingent propositions in chapter 9 of Aristotle's De Interpretatione . While Boethius assumed that God's atemporal knowledge infallibly pertains to historical events, he was inclined to believe that Aristotle correctly taught that future contingent propositions are not antecedently true or false, even though they may be characterized as true-or-false. Aquinas also tried to combine the allegedly Aristotelian view of the disjunctive truth-value of future contingent propositions with the conception of (...) all things being timelessly present to God's knowledge. The second approach was formulated by Peter Abelard who argued that in Aristotle's view future contingent propositions are true or false, not merely true-or-false, and that the antecedent truth of future propositions does not necessitate things in the world. After Duns Scotus, many late medieval thinkers thought like Abelard, particularly because of their new interpretation of contingency, but they did not believe, with the exception of John Buridan, that this was an Aristotelian view. (shrink)
: My article surveys philosophical discussions of Abelard over the last twenty years. Although Abelard has been a well-known figure for centuries, his most important logical works were published only in the twentieth century and, so I argue, the rediscovery of him as an important philosopher is recent and continuing. I concentrate especially on work that shows Abelard as the re-discoverer of propositional logic (Chris Martin); as a subtle explorer of problems about modality (Simo Knuuttila, Herbert Weidemann) and semantics (...) (Klaus Jacobi); as a metaphysician before the reception of Aristotle's Metaphysics (Peter King); and as an ethical thinker who echoes the Stoics (Calvin Normore) and anticipates Kant (Peter King). (shrink)
This paper discusses the issues of deciding to have a child with mental retardation, and of terminating a pregnancy when the future child is known to have the same disability. I discuss these problems by criticizing a utilitarian argument, namely, that one should act in a way that results in less suffering and less limited opportunity in the world. My argument is that future parents ought to assume a strong responsibility towards the well-being of their prospective children when they decide (...) to reproduce. The moral point in cases in which our acts affect the well-being of future children should be expressed strictly in terms of parents' culpability. Future children thus do not have current moral standing but presently living persons have current obligations to consider the presumable effects of their actions on future people. I will also argue that there are morally significant differences between 'selective contraception' and selective abortion. (shrink)
It is now a common opinion in Western countries that a child's impairment would probably place an unexpected burden on her parents, a burden that the parents have not committed themselves to dealing with. Therefore, selective abortion is in general a morally justified option for the parents. I argue that this view is based on biased information about the quality of life of individuals with impairments and their families. Also, a conscious decision to procreate should bring about conscious assent to (...) assuming obligations as a parent. This implies a duty of caring for any kind of child. Consequently, if the child's condition is not such that it would make its life not worth living, and if the parents live in an environment where they are able to provide their child and themselves an adequate well-being, they do not have a morally sufficient reason to terminate the pregnancy on the grounds of fetal abnormality. (shrink)
In this study I discuss G. W. Leibniz's (1646-1716) views on rational decision-making from the standpoint of both God and man. The Divine decision takes place within creation, as God freely chooses the best from an infinite number of possible worlds. While God's choice is based on absolutely certain knowledge, human decisions on practical matters are mostly based on uncertain knowledge. However, in many respects they could be regarded as analogous in more complicated situations. In addition to giving an overview (...) of the divine decision-making and discussing critically the criteria God favours in his choice, I provide an account of Leibniz's views on human deliberation, which includes some new ideas. One of these concerns is the importance of estimating probabilities – in making decisions one estimates both the goodness of the act itself and its consequences as far as the desired good is concerned. Another idea is related to the plurality of goods in complicated decisions and the competition this may provoke. Thirdly, heuristic models are used to sketch situations under deliberation in order to help in making the decision. Combining the views of Marcelo Dascal, Jaakko Hintikka and Simo Knuuttila, I argue that Leibniz applied two kinds of models of rational decision-making to practical controversies, often without explicating the details. The more simple, traditional pair of scales model is best suited to cases in which one has to decide for or against some option, or to distribute goods among parties and strive for a compromise. What may be of more help in more complicated deliberations is the novel vectorial model, which is an instance of the general mathematical doctrine of the calculus of variations. To illustrate this distinction, I discuss some cases in which he apparently applied these models in different kinds of situation. These examples support the view that the models had a systematic value in his theory of practical rationality. (shrink)
This paper discusses whether prospectiveparents ought to find out about their geneticconstitution for reproductive reasons. It isargued that ignoring genetic information can bein line with responsible parenthood or perhapseven recommendable. This is because parenthoodis essentially an unconditional project inwhich parents ought to commit themselves tonurturing any kind of child. Besides, thetraditional reasons offered for theunfortunateness of impairments and the tragicfate of families with disabled children are notconvincing. Other morally problematic outcomesof genetics, such as discrimination againstindividuals with impairments, and limiting freeparental (...) decision making, are alsoconsidered. (shrink)
In this article, I shall consider medieval discussions of the principles of Aristotelian syllogistic which were called the dictum de omni et nullo and the expository syllogism. I am particularly interested in how theological questions contributed to the introduction of some influential new medieval ideas, such as the extensional sameness of the subject as the basis of predication, the interpretation of the expository syllogism from this point of view, and the explication of the logical subject of universal and particular syllogistic (...) premises with the phrase `Anything/something which is A. . .'. I end with some remarks about the increasing medieval awareness that these developments were beyond Aristotle's purview. (shrink)
We studied the patient JP who has exceptional abilities to draw complex geometrical images by hand and a form of acquired synesthesia for mathematical formulas and objects, which he perceives as geometrical ﬁgures. JP sees all smooth curvatures as discrete lines, similarly regardless of scale. We carried out two preliminary investigations to establish the perceptual nature of synesthetic experience and to investigate the neural basis of this phenomenon. In a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, image-inducing formulas produced larger fMRI (...) responses than non-image inducing formulas in the left temporal, parietal and frontal lobes. Thus our main ﬁnding is that the activation associated with his experience of complex geometrical images emerging from mathematical formulas is restricted to the left hemisphere. (shrink)
Perceptual phenomena reviewed by O'Regan & Noë (O&N) cannot be explained by bottom-up activity alone, but conventional interpretations suffice if perceptions are seen as activations of memory models of the outside world and its events. Motor involvement is necessary only during the phylogenetic and ontogenetic development of perceptual mechanisms.
This paper attempts to elucidate Wittgenstein’s remark about the “strange resemblance between a philosophical investigation (especially in mathematics) and an aesthetic one” from 1937 by looking at its textual and philosophical context. The conclusion is that the remark can be seen both as a description of a particular conception of philosophy, a prescription or declaration of intent (to proceed in a particular way), and a reminder (to Wittgenstein himself) about the form of a philosophical investigation. Furthermore, it is concluded that (...) the Darstellungsform he has in mind is the one that finds expression especially in the first part of the PI. (shrink)
J.S. Mill has formulated a classical statement of the "argument from analogyâ€? concerning knowledge of other minds: "I must either believe them [other human beings] to be alive, or to be automatonsâ€? (Mill 1872, 244). It is possible that Wittgenstein had this in mind when writing the following: "I believe he is suffering.â€?â€”Do I also believe that he isn"t an automaton? It would go against the grain to use the word in both connexions. (Or is it like this: I believe (...) he is suffering, but am certain the he is not an automaton? Nonsense!) Suppose I say of a friend: "He isn"t an automatonâ€?.â€”What information is conveyed by this, and to whom would it be information? To a human being who meets him in ordinary circumstances? What information could it give him? (At the very most that this man always behaves like a human being, and not occasionally like a machine.) "I believe he is not an automatonâ€?, just like that, so far makes no sense. My attitude towards him is an attitude towards a soul [eine Einstellung zur Seele]. I am not of the opinion that he has a soul. (PI p. 178) Here Wittgenstein contrasts opinion (Meinung) and attitude (Einstellung). How should this contrast be understood? On a view such as Mill"s, to regard someone as a conscious being is to hold certain beliefs about him, beliefs that can perhaps ultimately be grounded in a theory of some sort. To have an "attitude towards a soulâ€? is, on the contrary, to see a person"s gestures and facial expressions as "filled with meaningâ€?. We have an attitude towards a soul when confronted with a person, which means that we react to his presence and behaviour in a certain way. (shrink)
We propose a theoretical framework for modeling communication between agents that have different conceptual models of their current context. We describe how the emergence of subjective models of the world can be simulated and what the role of language and communication in that process is. We consider, in particular, the role of unsupervised learning in the formation of agents' conceptual models, the relative subjectivity of these models, and the communication and learning processes that lead into intersubjective sharing of concepts. We (...) also discuss some implications of the subjectivity of conceptual learning in the area of economics. (shrink)
One of the features of John Locke’s moral philosophy is the idea that morality is based on our beliefs concerning the future good. In An Essay Concerning Human Understanding II, xxi, §70, Locke argues that we have to decide between the probability of afterlife and our present temptations. In itself, this kind of decision model is not rare in Early Modern philosophy. Blaise Pascal’s Wager is a famous example of a similar idea of balancing between available options which Marcelo Dascal (...) has discussed in his important 2005 article “The Balance of Reason”. -/- Leibniz, however, was not always satisfied with this kind of simple balancing. In his commentary to Locke’s Essay, Nouveaux essais sur l’entendement humain, II, xxi, §66, he presented an alternative model which is based on an idea of plural, mutually conflicting inclinations. This kind of model, called as vectorial theory of rational decision by Simo Knuuttila, fits well with Leibniz’s theory of the soul where volitions are formed as a kind of compromise between different inclinations to different goods. -/- I will present these two models and show how they illustrate the practical rationality of Locke and Leibniz and how their moral philosophies differ, although being similar in certain respects. The topics include Leibniz’s criticism of Lockean hedonism and the discussion of akratic behaviour in II, xxi of Essay and Nouveaux essais. (shrink)
La théorie augustinienne de la volonté a été abondamment discutée au XIIe siècle, et a donné naissance à une logique de la volonté, en particulier par sa théorie des actions contraintes et du rapport entre vouloir une fin et vouloir les moyens pour cette fin. Cette logique de la volonté se trouve ultérieurement assimilée par la logique déontique, telle qu'on la trouve développée par exemple chez Roger Roseth au XIVe siècle.