My pocket calculator (Cal) has certain arithmetical abilities: it seems Cal calculates. That calculating is thinking seems equally untendentious. Yet these two claims together provide premises for a seemingly valid syllogism whose conclusion -- Cal thinks -- most would deny. I consider several ways to avoid this conclusion, and find them mostly wanting. Either we ourselves can't be said to think or calculate if our calculation-like performances are judged by the standards proposed to rule out Cal; or the standards (...) -- e.g., autonomy and self-consciousness -- make it impossible to verify whether anything or anyone (save myself) meets them. While appeals to the intentionality of thought or the unity of minds provide more credible lines of resistance, available accounts of intentionality and mental unity are insufficiently clear and warranted to provide very substantial arguments against Cal's title to be called a thinkingthing. Indeed, considerations favoring granting that title are more formidable than generally appreciated. (shrink)
In their Minds and Machines essay How would you know if you synthesized a ThinkingThing? (Kary & Mahner, Minds and Machines, 12(1), 61–86, 2002), Kary and Mahner have chosen to occupy a high ground of materialism and empiricism from which to attack the philosophical and methodological positions of believers in artificial intelligence (AI) and artificial life (AL). In this review I discuss some of their main arguments as well as their philosophical foundations. Their central argument: ‘AI is (...) Platonism’, which is based on a particular interpretation of the notion of ‘definition’ and used as a critique against AI, can be counter criticized from two directions: first, Anti-Platonism is not a necessary precondition for criticizing AI, because outspoken Platonist criticism against AI is already known (Penrose, The emperor’s new mind (with a foreword by M. Gardner), 1989). Second, even in case that AI would essentially be ‘Platonism’ this would not be a sufficient argument for proving AI wrong. In my counter criticism I assume a more or less Popperian position by emphasizing the openness of the future: Not by quasi-Scholastic arguments (like Kary and Mahner’s), but only after being confronted with a novel ‘thinkingthing’ by future AI engineers we can start to analyze its particular properties (Let me use a history analogon to illustrate my position: In the 19th century, mechanized aviation was widely regarded impossible—only natural organisms (such as birds or bees) could fly, and any science of aerodynamics or aviation did not exist. Only after some non-scientific technicians had confronted their astonished fellows with the first (obviously) flying machine the science of ‘Artificial Aviation’ came into existence, motivated by the need for understanding and mastering that challenging and puzzling new phenomenon). (shrink)
We confront the following popular views: that mind or life are algorithms; that thinking, or more generally any process other than computation, is computation; that anything other than a working brain can have thoughts; that anything other than a biological organism can be alive; that form and function are independent of matter; that sufficiently accurate simulations are just as genuine as the real things they imitate; and that the Turing test is either a necessary or sufficient or scientific (...) procedure for evaluating whether or not an entity is intelligent. Drawing on the distinction between activities and tasks, and the fundamental scientific principles of ontological lawfulness, epistemological realism, and methodological skepticism, we argue for traditional scientific materialism of the emergentist kind in opposition to the functionalism, behaviourism, tacit idealism, and merely decorative materialism of the artificial intelligence and artificial life communities. (shrink)
This essay considers what it means to understand natural language and whether a computer running an artificial-intelligence program designed to understand natural language does in fact do so. It is argued that a certain kind of semantics is needed to understand natural language, that this kind of semantics is mere symbol manipulation (i.e., syntax), and that, hence, it is available to AI systems. Recent arguments by Searle and Dretske to the effect that computers cannot understand natural language are discussed, and (...) a prototype natural-language-understanding system is presented as an illustration. (shrink)
This paper compares Sartre's and Nancy's experience of the plurality of beings. After briefly discussing why Heidegger cannot provide such an experience, it analyzes the relation between the in-itself and for-itself in Sartre and between bodies and sense in Nancy in order to ask how this experience can be nauseating for Sartre, but meaningful for Nancy. First, it shows that the articulation of Being into beings is only a coat of veneer for Sartre while for Nancy Being is necessarily plural. (...) Then, it contrasts Nausea as an experience without language with Nancy's thinking of the excription of sense in the thing. (shrink)
The preceding article by Marc Bekoff reveals much about our current understanding of animal self-consciousness and its implications. It also reveals how much more there is to be said and considered. This response briefly examines animal self-consciousness from scientific, moral, and theological perspectives. As Bekoff emphasizes, self-consciousness is not one thing but many. Consequently, our moral relationship to animals is not simply one based on a graded hierarchy of abilities. Furthermore, the complexity of animal self-awareness can serve as stimulus (...) for thinking about issues of theodicy and soteriology in a broader sense. (shrink)
This is a book that challenges the current orthodoxy, both in the philosophy of mind and in the cognitive sciences, that thinking (construed broadly to include perceiving, imagining, remembering, etc.) is a mental process in the head. Such a view has been largely taken for granted since the demise of behaviorism in the 1960s, and it underpins both the representational and computational theories of mind, including their connectionist and dynamicist variants. While the orthodoxy has been rejected in recent years (...) by a motley collection of e-theorists—externalists, embodiers, embedders, and extended minders—Melser’s view is quite distinct from such views. For Melser, rather than thinking being a process that begins in the head but extends beyond it (as most e-theorists hold), it is a personal-level activity, something that a person does through her actions. Since Melser views such activities as being disjoint from natural processes, thinking is not a natural process at all, the sort of thing that we might study scientifically. Thus, thinking is a personal action that calls for a different kind of study, one that draws on empathy, interpretation, and hermeneutics. That is the view defended at the core of the book (chh.1-7), and if it makes it sound like a very old-fashioned book, that’s because it is. Melser’s antecedents are philosophers such as Gilbert Ryle, J.L. Austin, and Stuart Hampshire, both in style and in content. Apart from Melser’s heavy reliance on selective parts of developmental psychology, there is minimal discussion of substantive work in contemporary cognitive science. That is what might be expected from an author whose view is that whatever it is cognitive scientists are doing, it is not (much to their surprise, no doubt) the investigation of thinking. As I will try to show in a moment, however, the central argument of the book could have been strengthened by more direct engagement with such empirical work. (shrink)
The Way of Ideas died an ignoble death, committed to the flames by behaviorist empiricists. Ideas, pictures in the head, perished with the Way. By the time those empiricists were supplanted at the helm by functionalists and causal theorists, a revolution had taken place in linguistics and the last thing anyone wanted to do was revive images as the medium of thought. Currently, some but not all cognitive scientists think that there probably are mental images - experiments in cognitive (...) psychology (e.g. Shepard and Metzler 1971) have shown it to be plausible to posit mental images. Even so, the phenomenon of mental imagery has been largely regarded as peripheral in cognition, perhaps even epiphenomenal. Images cannot fix the content of thought (intentions, rules), the Wittgenstein story went. The central processes of thought, so the post-Wittgenstein story goes, require a propositional representation system, a language of thought, universal and modeled on the machine languages of computers. The language of thought is compositional, productive, and, leading advocates argue, has a causal semantics. Images lack all of these essential qualities and so are hopeless as key players in thinking. (shrink)
I argue in my paper that, when the ?twofold standpoint,? in terms of which Kant undertakes to set metaphysics upon the revolutionary path of critical reason, is truly assessed, we discover that the fundamental distinction that he makes between subject and object, between thinking (together with desiring and willing) and knowing, between thinking the thing in itself and knowing objects of possible experience, or between freedom and nature, recapitulates the ontological argument demonstrating the necessary relationship between thought (...) and existence. (shrink)
It is human nature to wonder how things might have turned out differently--either for the better or for the worse. For the past two decades psychologists have been intrigued by this phenomenon, which they call counterfactual thinking. Specifically, researchers have sought to answer the "big" questions: Why do people have such a strong propensity to generate counterfactuals, and what functions does counterfactual thinking serve? What are the determinants of counterfactual thinking, and what are its adaptive and psychological (...) consequences? This important work brings together a collection of thought-provoking papers by social and cognitive psychologists who have made important theoretical and empirical contributions to our understanding of this topic. The essays in this volume contain novel theoretical insights, and, in many cases descriptions of previously unpublished empirical studies. The Psychology of Counterfactual Thinking provides an excellent overview of this fascinating topic for researchers, as well as advanced undergraduates and graduates in psychology--particularly those with an interest in social cognition, social judgment, decision judgment, decision making, thinking and reasoning. (shrink)
Cognitive science has been dominated by the computational conception that cognition is computation across representations. To the extent to which cognition as computation across representations is supposed to be a purposive, meaningful, algorithmic, problem-solving activity, however, computers appear to be incapable of cognition. They are devices that can facilitate computations on the basis of semantic grounding relations as special kinds of signs. Even their algorithmic, problem-solving character arises from their interpretation by human users. Strictly speaking, computers as such — apart (...) from human users — are not only incapable of cognition, but even incapable of computation, properly construed. If we want to understand the nature of thought, then we have to study thinking, not computing, because they are not the same thing. (shrink)
In slapstick comedy, the worst thing that could happen usually does: The person with a sore toe manages to stub it, sometimes twice. Such errors also arise in daily life, and research traces the tendency to do precisely the worst thing to ironic processes of mental control. These monitoring processes keep us watchful for errors of thought, speech, and action and enable us to avoid the worst thing in most situations, but they also increase the likelihood of (...) such errors when we attempt to exert control under mental load (stress, time pressure, or distraction). Ironic errors in attention and memory occur with identifiable brain activity and prompt recurrent unwanted thoughts; attraction to forbidden desires; expression of objectionable social prejudices; production of movement errors; and rebounds of negative experiences such as anxiety, pain, and depression. Such ironies can be overcome when effective control strategies are deployed and mental load is minimized. (shrink)
Can just war theory and pacifism be substantially reconciled in theory and practice? In this paper I argue that James Sterba is mistaken in thinking that they can. There is no such thing as just war pacifism. However, this does not mean that just war theorists and pacifists cannot have a reasonable conversation about the justifiability of war. They can have such a conversation if they overcome their exclusive concern with the question of action-guidingness, that is, the binary (...) question of whether or not war can be morally justified. Justified wars are tragic. (shrink)
Department of Philosophy, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, Ca 92093, U.S.A., and Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, CA, U.S.A. E-mail: email@example.com..
When computing is defined as the causal implementation of algorithms and algorithms are defined as effective decision procedures, human thought is mental computation only if it is governed by mental algorithms. An examination of ordinary thinking, however, suggests that most human thought processes are non-algorithmic. Digital machines, moreover, are mark-manipulating or string-processing systems whose marks or strings do not stand for anything for those systems, while minds are semiotic (or “signusing”) systems for which signs stand for other things for (...) those systems. Computing, at best, turns out to be no more than a special kind of thinking. (shrink)
Do we conduct our conscious propositional thinking in natural language? Or is such language only peripherally related to human conscious thought-processes? In this paper I shall present a partial defence of the former view, by arguing that the only real alternative is eliminativism about conscious propositional thinking. Following some introductory remarks, I shall state the argument for this conclusion, and show how that conclusion can be true. Thereafter I shall defend each of the three main premises in turn.
In Thinking without Words I develop a philosophical framework for treating some animals and human infants as genuine thinkers. This paper outlines the aspects of this account that are most relevant to those working in animal ethics. There is a range of different levels of cognitive sophistication in different animal species, in addition to limits to the types of thought available to non-linguistic creatures, and it may be important for animal ethicists to take this into account in exploring issues (...) of moral significance and the obligations that we might or might not have to non-human animals. (shrink)
As a philosophy professor, one of my central goals is to teach students to think critically. However, one difficulty with determining whether critical thinking can be taught, or even measured, is that there is widespread disagreement over what critical thinking actually is. Here, I reflect on several conceptions of critical thinking, subjecting them to critical scrutiny. I also distinguish critical thinking from other forms of mental processes with which it is often conflated. Next, I present my (...) own conception of critical thinking, wherein it fundamentally consists in acquiring, developing, and exercising the ability to grasp inferential connections holding between statements. Finally, given this account of critical thinking, and given recent studies in cognitive science, I suggest the most effective means for teaching students to think critically. (shrink)
Main principles of the complex nonlinear thinking which are based on the notions of the modern theory of evolution and self-organization of complex systems called also synergetics are under discussion in this article. The principles are transdisciplinary, holistic, and oriented to a human being. The notions of system complexity, nonlinearity of evolution, creative chaos, space-time definiteness of structure-attractors of evolution, resonant influences, nonlinear and soft management are here of great importance. In this connection, a prominent contribution made to system (...) analysis and to a necessary reform of education and thinking by Edgar Morin is considered. (shrink)
Cognition is thinking; it feels like something to think, and only those who can feel can think. There are also things that thinkers can do. We know neither how thinkers can think nor how they are able do what they can do. We are waiting for cognitive science to discover how. Cognitive science does this by testing hypotheses about what processes can generate what doing (“know-how”) This is called the Turing Test. It cannot test whether a process can generate (...) feeling, hence thinking -- only whether it can generate doing. The processes that generate thinking and know-how are “distributed” within the heads of thinkers, but not across thinkers’ heads. Hence there is no such thing as distributed cognition, only collaborative cognition. Email and the Web have spawned a new form of collaborative cognition that draws upon individual brains’ real-time interactive potential in ways that were not possible in oral, written or print interactions. (shrink)
I argue that entertaining a proposition is not an action. Such events do not have intentional explanations and cannot be evaluated as rational or not. In these respects they contrast with assertions and compare well with perceptual events. One can control what one thinks by doing something, most familiarly by reciting a sentence. But even then the event of entertaining the proposition is not an action, though it is an event one has caused to happen, much as one might cause (...) oneself to see a book by looking at it. I also discuss how this may support the view that thinking about the world is a source of information about it. (shrink)
How can one think about the same thing twice without knowing that it's the same thing? How can one think about nothing at all (for example Pegasus, the mythical flying horse)? Is thinking about oneself special? One could mistake one's car for someone else's, but it seems one could not mistake one's own headache for someone else's. Why not? -/- R. M. Sainsbury and Michael Tye provide an entirely new theory--called 'originalism'-- which provides simple and natural solutions (...) to these puzzles and more. Originalism's central thesis is that concepts, the constituents of thoughts, are to be individuated by their origin, rather than epistemically or semantically. The doctrine has further valuable consequences for the nature of thought, our knowledge of our own thoughts, the nature of experience, the epistemology of perception-based beliefs, and for arguments based on conceivability. Sainsbury and Tye argue that although thought is special, there is no special mystery attaching to the nature of thought. Their account of the mind considers it as part of nature, as opposed to something with supernatural powers--which means that human beings have more opportunities to make mistakes than many have liked to think. (shrink)
This chapter takes up, and sketches an answer to, the main challenge facing massively modular theories of the architecture of the human mind. This is to account for the distinctively flexible, non-domain-specific, character of much human thinking. I shall show how the appearance of a modular language faculty within an evolving modular architecture might have led to these distinctive features of human thinking with only minor further additions and non-domain-specific adaptations.
The concepts of autonomy and of critical thinking play a central role in many contemporary accounts of the aims of education. This book analyses their relationship to each other and to education, exploring their roles in mortality and politics before examining the role of critical thinking in fulfilling the educational aim of preparing young people for autonomy. The author analyses different senses of the terms 'autonomy' and 'critical thinking' and the implications for education. Implications of the discussion (...) for contemporary practice are also considered. (shrink)
The concept of population thinking was introduced by Ernst Mayr as the right way of thinking about the biological domain, but it is difficult to find an interpretation of this notion that is both unproblematic and does the theoretical work it was intended to do. I argue that, properly conceived, Mayr’s population thinking is a version of trope nominalism: the view that biological property-types do not exist or at least they play no explanatory role. Further, although population (...)thinking has been traditionally used to argue against essentialism about biological kinds, recently it has been suggested that it may be consistent with at least some forms of essentialism—ones that construe essential properties as relational. I argue that if population thinking is a version of trope nominalism, then, as Mayr originally claimed, it rules out any version of essentialism about biological kinds. (shrink)
This book covers all the material typically addressed in first or second-year college courses in Critical Thinking: Chapter 1: Critical Thinking 1.1 What is critical thinking? 1.2 What is critical thinking not? Chapter 2: The Nature of Argument 2.1 Recognizing an Argument 2.2 Circular Arguments 2.3 Counterarguments 2.4 The Burden of Proof 2.5 Facts and Opinions 2.6 Deductive and Inductive Argument Chapter 3: The Structure of Argument 3.1 Convergent, Single 3.2 Convergent, Multiple 3.3 Divergent Chapter 4: (...) Relevance 4.1 Relevance 4.2 Errors of Relevance Chapter 5: Language 5.1 Clarity 5.2 Neutrality 5.3 Definition Chapter 6: Truth and Acceptability 6.1 How do we define truth? 6.2 How do we discover truth? 6.3 How do we evaluate claims of truth? Chapter 7: Generalizations, Analogies, and General Principles 7.1 Sufficiency 7.2 Generalizations 7.3 Analogies 7.4 General Principles Chapter 8: Inductive Argument – Causal Reasoning 8.1 Causation 8.2 Explanations 8.3 Predictions, Plans, and Policies 8.4 Errors in Causal Reasoning (Three additional chapters – categorical logic, propositional logic, thinking critically about ethics – are available on the companion website.) -/- Special Features: -/- - The book takes a practice approach to learning how to think critically, so there are LOTS of exercises (within each chapter, focusing on discrete skills, and at the end of each chapter, focusing on more global skills in a cumulative fashion – thinking critically about what one sees, hears, reads, writes, and discusses). -/- - There is an extensive “Answers, Explanations, and Analyses” section that provides not just ‘the right answer’ but explanations as to why the right answer is right and why wrong answers are wrong; when the exercise is not a matter of providing an answer but of analyzing material, a detailed analysis is provided in this section; this feature is intended to help the student fully understand why some arguments are better than others (and why it’s not ‘just a matter of opinion’!). -/- - The regularly-appearing end-of-chapter “Thinking critically when you discuss” exercise is carefully graduated throughout the text, to gently lead students from sounding like a bad tv talk show to being able to hold an intelligent discussion. -/- - The regularly-appearing end-of-chapter “Thinking critically about what you write” exercise assumes almost no skill at the beginning and leads up to, in the last chapter, writing a 2,000 word position paper. -/- - A critical analysis template (a step-by-step approach to critical analysis) is presented in the first chapter and at the beginning of each subsequent chapter, and specific reference to it is made at the beginning of each end-of-chapter “Thinking critically about what you read” exercise (consisting of ten bits of increasing difficulty); this feature is intended to encourage the development of habitual, thorough analysis of arguments. -/- - Actual questions from standardized reasoning tests like the LSAT, GMAT, MCAT, and GRE are included. -/- - Ancillaries include an instructor’s manual; a test bank; PowerPoint slides; downloadable MP3 study guides; and interactive flash cards. (shrink)
Recent findings suggest that our capacity to imagine the future depends on our capacity to remember the past. However, the extent to which episodic memory is involved in our capacity to think about what could have happened in our past, yet did not occur (i.e., episodic counterfactual thinking), remains largely unexplored. The current experiments investigate the phenomenological characteristics and the influence of outcome valence on the experience of past, future and counterfactual thoughts. Participants were asked to mentally simulate past, (...) future, and counterfactual events with positive or negative outcomes. Features of their subjective experiences during each type of simulation were measured using questionnaires and autobiographical interviews. The results suggest that clarity and vividness were higher for past than future and counterfactual simulations. Additionally, emotional intensity was lower for counterfactual simulations than past and future simulations. Finally, outcome valence influenced participants’ judgment of probability for future and counterfactual simulations. (shrink)
Philosophers speak—or, rather, they respond to various forms of speaking that are handed to them. This book by one of our most distinguished philosophers focuses on the communicative aspect of philosophical thought. Peperzak’s central focus is “addressing”: what distinguishes speaking or writing from rumination is their being directed by someone to someone. To be involved in philosophy is to be part of a tradition through which thinkers propose their findings to others, who respond by offering their own appropriations to their (...) interlocutors.After a critical sketch of the conception of modern philosophy, Peperzak presents a succinct analysis of speaking, insisting on the radical distinction between speaking about and speaking to. He enlarges this analysis to history and tries to answer the question whether philosophy also implies a certain form of listening and responding to words of God. Since philosophical speech about persons can neither honor nor reveal their full truth, speaking and thinking about God is even more problematic. Meditation about the archaic Word cannot reach the Speaker unless it turns into prayer, or—as Descartes wrote—into a contemplation that makes the thinker “consider, admire, and adore the beauty of God’s immense light, as much as the eyesight of my blinded mind can tolerate.”“Thinking is a work of genuine and original scholarship which responds to the tradition of philosophical thinking with a critique of its language, style, focus, and scope.”—Catriona Hanley, Loyola College, Maryland. (shrink)
Attempts to persuade us - to believe something, to do something, to buy something - are everywhere. What is less clear is how one is to think critically about such attempts and whether any of them are sound arguments. Critical Thinking: A Concise Guide is a much-needed guide to thinking skills and a clear introduction to thinking clearly and rationally for oneself. Accessibly written, this book equips readers with the essential skills required to tell a good argument (...) from a bad one. (shrink)
In this essay, I draw on Henri Bergson and Maurice Merleau-Ponty to interrogate what philosophy is and how it can continue to think. Though my answer is not reducible to the views of either philosopher, what joins them is an attempt to elaborate philosophy as a different way of seeing. In this light, I propose a view of philosophy as prosthesis—as a means and a way for seeing differently. Rather than a simple tool, philosophy as prosthesis is a transformative supplement, (...) one that our bodily perception calls for and wherein that perception is recast. Rather than a fixed or assured view, this prosthesis holds open the interval in which thinking can take place. Philosophy, I argue, must wait. It sees and thinks hesitatingly, for the temporality it inscribes is not a foreseeable development but the unfolding of life as tendency, as that which creates its own possibility as it comes into existence. (shrink)
In order to develop further the methods of scenario building and to facilitate the paths towards desirable and sustainable futures, we cannot do without a nonlinear evolutionary thinking. The theory of self-organization of complex systems, called also synergetics, is a scientific basis for such a thinking, the main principles of which are under consideration in the paper. Synergetics provides us with the knowledge of constructive principles of coevolution of the complex social systems, coevolution of countries and geopolitical regions (...) being at different stages of development, integration of the East and the West, the North and the South. (shrink)
This book is a rich collection of philosophical essays radically interrogating key notions and preoccupations of the phenomenological tradition. While using Heidegger’s Being and Time as its permanent point of reference and dispute, this collection also confronts other important philosophers, such as Kant, Nietzsche, and Derrida. The projects of these pivotal thinkers of finitude are relentlessly pushed to their extreme, with respect both to their unexpected horizons and to their as yet unexplored analytical potential. A Finite Thinking shows that, (...) paradoxically, where the thought of finitude comes into its own it frees itself, not only to reaffirm a certain transformed and transformative presence, but also for a non-religious reconsideration and reaffirmation of certain theologemes, as well as of the body, heart, and love. This book shows the literary dimension of philosophical discourse, providing important enabling ideas for scholars of literature, cultural theory, and philosophy. (shrink)
Thinking from A-Z is a lively and incisive introduction to critical thinking by the bestselling author of Philosophy: The Basics. The alphabetically-arranged entries cover a wide range of reasoning techniques, fallacies, rhetorical tricks and psychological obstacles to clear thought. The new entries in this updated edition include: catch-22, contraries, counterexample, domino effect, exception that proves the rule, Ockham's Razor, paradox, Socratic fallacy, "that's a value judgement," and truth by adage. Topical examples, extensive cross-referencing, and a witty, straightforward style (...) make this an indispensable reference tool, as well as an irresistible guide to dip into. (shrink)
Heidegger’s critique of metaphysics is central to his attempt to re-instantiate the question of being. This paper examines Heidegger’s critique of metaphysics by looking at the relationship between metaphysics and thought. This entails an identification of the intimate relationship Heidegger maintains exists between philosophy and metaphysics, an analysis of Heidegger’s critique of this association, and a discussion of his proposal that philosophy has been so damaged by its association with metaphysics that it must be replaced with meditative thinking. It (...) is not quite clear, however, how the overcoming of metaphysical thinking is to occur especially given Heidegger’s insistence that relying on human will to effect an alteration in thinking simply re-instantiates the metaphysical perspective to be overcome. While several critics have argued Heidegger has no solution to this issue, instead holding that thought must simply be open to being’s ‘self’-transformation if and when it occurs, I turn to Heidegger’s notion of trace and a number of scattered comments on the relationship between meditative thinking and willing as non-willing to show Heidegger: (a) was aware of this issue; and (b) tried to resolve it by recognising a reconceptualised notion of willing not based on or emanating from the aggressive willing of metaphysics. (shrink)
In this paper I argue for a computational theory of thinking that does not eliminate the mind. In doing so, I will defend computationalism against the arguments of John Searle and James Fetzer, and briefly respond to other common criticisms.
A demanding introduction to logic and critical thinking, this book offers more traditional means of teaching the art of reasoning at a time when the field has become almost mathematical. Francis Dauer has rethought the framework for teaching reasoning in general and formal logic in particular, the desired epistemological context, and the role of the fallacies. The result is a coherent and very readable work, informed by Dauer's extensive experience teaching and writing on the subject.
The primary aim of this article is to bring the work of Deleuze and Guattari to bear on the question of communication in the classroom. I focus on the mathematics classroom, where agency and subjectivity are highly regulated by the rituals of the discipline, and where neoliberal psychological frameworks continue to dominate theories of teaching and learning. Moreover, the nature of communication in mathematics classrooms remains highly elusive and problematic, due in part to the distinct relationship the discipline has with (...) verbal language and thought. I first discuss current attempts to better address the embodied nature of communication in mathematics classrooms, and argue that these remain overly logo-centric and language-centric in their conception of thinking. I then show how the work of Deleuze and Guattari on thought as a radical disruptive event can be used effectively to critique current pedagogical practices that privilege a narrow conception of communication in the classroom. I examine a set of exemplary classroom videos used in mathematics teacher education to argue that the current approach fails to honor the highly creative and disruptive nature of thinking. (shrink)
Castoriadis views the project of autonomy as central to both political action and philosophical thinking. Although he acknowledges that the political project has retreated, he insists on its thinkability as a viable project. We argue that this insistence gives rise to an unresolved tension. Specifically, Castoriadis’ substantive response to the question ‘what ought we to think?’, which he gives in terms of the pursuit of the philosophical project of autonomy, ultimately fails to recognise the unavoidable effect of the political (...) project’s retreat on the thinker and this failure raises doubts as to whether Castoriadis’ own thinking has the potential to move beyond a merely journalistic style of critique, which he finds objectionable. (shrink)
This text uses the educational objectives of Benjamin Bloom as six steps to critical thinking (namely: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation). The book starts with the absolute basics (for example, how to find the topic, issue, and thesis) vs. the usual "explaining and evaluating arguments" and fine distinctions that easily can lose students.
Smart Thinking: Skills for Critical Understanding and Writing 2E is a practical step-by-step guide to improving skills in analysis, critical thinking, and the effective communication of arguments and explanations. The book combines an accessible and straightforward style, with a strong foundation of knowledge. The text treats reasoning as an aspect of communication, not an abstract exercise in logic. The book not only provides detailed advice on how to practise analytical skills, but also demonstrates how these skills can be (...) used in research and writing. In particular, it emphasises how to develop arguments that are coherent and that take account of their audience and context. (shrink)
This clear, learner-friendly text helps today's students bridge the gap between everyday culture and critical thinking. The text covers all the basics of critical thinking, beginning where students are, not where we think they should be. Its comprehensiveness allows instructors to tailor the material to their individual teaching styles, resulting in an exceptionally versatile text.
Ethics and rationality -- Moral frameworks -- Experience in context -- Aesthetic aspects of ethical thought -- Morals and metaphors -- Ethics and pluralism -- Moral thinking -- Afterword: diversity, relativism, and nonviolence.
In traditional analytic philosophy, critical thinking is defined along Cartesian lines as rational and linear reasoning preclusive of intuitions, emotions and lived experience. According to Michael Gilbert, this view – which he calls the Natural Light Theory (NLT) – fails because it arbitrarily excludes standard feminist forms of argumentation and neglects the essentially social nature of argumentation. In this paper, I argue that while Gilbert’s criticism is correct for argumentation in general, NLT fails in a distinctive and particularly problematic (...) manner in moral argumentation contexts. This is because NLT calls for disputants to adopt an impartial attitude, which overlooks the fact that moral disputants qua moral agents are necessarily partial to their own values and interests. Adopting the impartial perspective would therefore alienate them from their values and interests, causing a kind of “moral schizophrenia.” Finally, I urge a re-valuation of epistemic virtue in argumentation. (shrink)
This paper is concerned with Chisholm's "adverbial theory of sensing". An attempt is made to give a literal statement of what it means "to sense redly" which is consistent with what Chisholm says about sensing and also meets various objections to adverbial theories. The paper concludes with a brief consideration of why it is that Chisholm does not offer an adverbial theory of perceiving, or of thinking in general, as well as of sensing.
Designed to immediately engage students and other readers in philosophical reflection, the new edition of Ethical Argument: Critical Thinking in Ethics bridges the gap between ethical theory and practice. This brief introduction combines a discussion of ethical theory with fundamental elements of critical thinking--including informal fallacies and the basics of logic--and uses case studies and practical applications to illustrate concepts. Author Hugh Mercer Curtler presents a carefully formulated critique of ethical relativism, encouraging students to reason along with him (...) and to question his argument at every point. This approach enables students to think systematically about ethical issues and to acquire basic skills in argumentation at the same time. They will learn how to bring principles to bear on ethical conflict, how to weigh pros and cons, how to recognize good ethical reasons, and how to distinguish sound argumentation from rationalization. The second edition of Ethical Argument: Critical Thinking in Ethics includes new exercises and examples, summary boxes, cartoons, and sample dialogues that demonstrate how to effectively debate ethical positions. It features more than forty case studies on ethical issues that are interesting and relevant to students. An ideal core text for courses in introductory ethics, this concise volume can be used along with additional primary sources, case studies, or newspaper articles and novels. It is also a helpful supplementary text for courses in applied ethics--including professional, business, and medical ethics--and in critical thinking. (shrink)
In this paper I examine Max Deutscher’s recent accounts of thinking, willing and judging, derived from his reading of Hannah Arendt’s 'The Life of the Mind', as set out in his book 'Judgment After Arendt'. Against Deutscher I argue that thinking does not presuppose thoughtfulness, that being willing is compatible with willing reluctantly, and that actor and spectator judgments are distinct types of judgments.
The Honor of Thinking investigates the limits of criticism, theory, and philosophy in light of what Martin Heidegger and French post-Heideggerian philosophers have established about the nature and tasks of thinking. In addition to in-depth analyses of Walter Benjamin's conception of critique—and in particular the relation of critique to ethics, as well as alternative models of criticism (such as Heidegger's notion of “Auseinandersetzung,” and Derridean deconstruction)—this book contains essays on the notion of theory from the Greeks and the (...) early German Romantics to the contemporary use of this notion in literary studies. The last part of the book investigates the different ways of understanding philosophical thinking that are found in contemporary French thought, examining works of Foucault, Deleuze, Lyotard, and Derrida. (shrink)
The classical tradition of testimony in topics -- Three medieval traditions : Augustine, Boethius, and Cassiodoras -- Two renaissance traditions : Ciceronian and Augustinian -- The long influence of the port-royal logic -- Appreciating Aristotle : Thomists, Scots, and Oxford noetics -- Testimony becomes experience : the rise of critical thinking.
Lively, comprehensive, and contemporary, The Voice of Reason: Fundamentals of Critical Thinking covers three principal areas: thought and language, systematic reasoning, and modes of proof. It employs highly accessible explanations and a multitude of examples drawn from social issues and various academic fields, showing students and other readers how to construct and criticize arguments using the techniques of sound reasoning. The Voice of Reason examines the traditional elements of the field and also explores new ground. The first section of (...) the book elucidates the relationship between thought and language, explaining how words function. It discusses meaning, connotation, vagueness, ambiguity, and definition, identifying the linguistic elements that can produce mistakes in thinking. The next section describes the rules of systematic reasoning, examining such topics as truth, relevance, and adequacy; deductive logic (categorical, hypothetical, and disjunctive); and induction (cause and effect, analogy, generalization, and hypothesis). Sixteen fallacies in thinking are also described through extensive illustrations and applications. The final section of the book offers a unique study of what constitutes proof in several different areas--including politics, advertising, law, and social issues--as well as in the academic disciplines of literature, science, history, and ethics. The author describes the various rules of evidence, using essays by major figures in each field as examples. An ideal text for courses in critical thinking, informal logic, and reasoning and writing, The Voice of Reason offers numerous pedagogical features including a host of examples; assignments, exercises, and puzzles at both the halfway point and at the end of each chapter; cartoons and quotations throughout; and practical applications of theoretical concepts. An extensive Instructor's Manual contains answers to the exercises that appear throughout the text. (shrink)
Part one: Acquiring critical thinking skills -- Out of the fog : the pathway to critical thinking -- Nuts and bolts : the basics of argument -- Analysis : the heart of critical thinking -- Handling claims, drawing inferences -- The logic machine : deductive and inductive reasoning -- Part two: Sharpening the tools -- The persuasive power of analogies -- Fallacies, fallacies : steering clear of argumentative quicksand -- Roll the dice : causal and statistical reasoning (...) -- Syllogisms -- Patterns of deductive reasoning: rules of inference -- Part three: Going out into the world -- Out of the silence: the power of language -- Desire and illusion: analyzing advertising -- Web sight : critical thinking and the internet -- Voices and visions : the media -- Clearing the path : legal reasoning. (shrink)
This article challenges the common view that improvements in critical thinking are best pursued by investigations in informal logic. From the perspective of research in psychology and neuroscience, hu-man inference is a process that is multimodal, parallel, and often emo-tional, which makes it unlike the linguistic, serial, and narrowly cog-nitive structure of arguments. At-tempts to improve inferential prac-tice need to consider psychological error tendencies, which are patterns of thinking that are natural for peo-ple but frequently lead to mistakes (...) in judgment. This article discusses two important but neglected error ten-dencies: motivated inference and fear-driven inference. (shrink)
Enhanced by many innovative exercises, examples, and pedagogical features, The Power of Critical Thinking: Effective Reasoning About Ordinary and Extraordinary Claims, Second Edition, explores the essentials of critical reasoning, argumentation, logic, and argumentative essay writing while also incorporating material on important topics that most other texts leave out. Author Lewis Vaughn offers comprehensive treatments of core topics, including an introduction to claims and arguments, discussions of propositional and categorical logic, and full coverage of the basics of inductive reasoning. Building (...) on this solid foundation, he also delves into areas neglected by other texts, adding extensive material on "inference to the best explanation" and on scientific reasoning; a thorough look at the evaluation of evidence and credibility; and a chapter on the psychological and social factors that can impede critical thinking. Additional notable elements are a chapter on moral reasoning, advice on how to evaluate Internet sources, and guidelines for evaluating occult, paranormal, or supernatural claims. The Power of Critical Thinking, Second Edition, integrates many pedagogical features including hundreds of diverse exercises, examples, and illustrations; progressive, stand-alone writing modules; numerous text boxes; step-by-step guidelines for evaluating claims, arguments, and explanations; a glossary of important terms; and many reminders, summaries, and review notes throughout. The text is supplemented by a companion website at www.oup.com/us/criticalthinking (offering a student study guide and more), and an Instructor's Manual with Test Questions (available both in print and on a CD). This unique text features a modular structure that allows instructors to teach the chapters in almost any order. Written in a student-friendly style and enhanced by humor where appropriate, it is ideal for courses in critical thinking, introduction to logic, informal logic, argumentative writing, and introduction to argumentation. New to the Second Edition * Full-color throughout and an expanded art program (37 more photos and illustrations) * A new writing module--an annotated sample student paper--and five additional essays for analysis * A new section on evaluating news reports and advertising * Timely discussions of intelligent design and population (nonintervention) studies * Expanded coverage of experts and authors and reasons to doubt their reliability * More "Field Problems" and exercise questions * Chapter objectives and key terms with definitions for each chapter. (shrink)
The Vocabulary of Critical Thinkingtakes an innovative, practical, and accessible approach to teaching critical thinking and reasoning skills. With the underlying notion that a good way to practice fundamental reasoning skills is to learn to name them, the text explores one hundred and eight words that are important to know and employ within any discipline. These words are about comparing, generalizing, explaining, inferring, judging sources, evaluating, referring, assuming and creating - actions used to assess relationships and arguments - and (...) the words are grouped according to these and other concepts essential to critical thinking. Featuring five or more words and an introduction on how they are related, each chapter is organized into three parts. Part I includes definitions of the words, brief examples of their use, and matching exercises. To further contextualize the words, Part II, Understanding the Meaning, provides numerous real-world examples, with commentary, of the words in use. Finally, Part III, providing practice of the associated critical thinking skills. Questions also appear throughout the chapters to encourage reflection and to highlight important points. Thirty-five photographs and illustrations additionally enrich the text. The book is an ideal text for critical thinking and reasoning courses as well as a variety of courses that prepare students to succeed. (shrink)
Extensively classroom-tested, Critical Thinking: An Introduction to Analytical Reading and Reasoning provides a non-technical vocabulary and analytic apparatus that guide students in identifying and articulating the central patterns found in reasoning and in expository writing more generally. Understanding these patterns of reasoning helps students to better analyze, evaluate, and construct arguments and to more easily comprehend the full range of everyday arguments found in ordinary journalism. Critical Thinking distinguishes itself from other texts in the field by emphasizing analytical (...) reading as an essential skill. It also provides detailed coverage of argument analysis, diagnostic arguments, diagnostic patterns, and fallacies. Opening with two chapters on analytical reading that help students recognize what makes reasoning explicitly different from other expository activities, the text then presents an interrogative model of argument to guide them in the analysis and evaluation of reasoning. This model allows a detailed articulation of "inference to the best explanation" and gives students a view of the pervasiveness of this form of reasoning. The author demonstrates how many common argument types--from correlations to sampling--can be analyzed using this articulated form. He then extends the model to deal with several predictive and normative arguments and to display the value of the fallacy vocabulary. Designed for introductory courses in critical thinking, critical reasoning, informal logic, and inductive reasoning, Critical Thinking features hundreds of exercises throughout and includes worked-out solutions and additional exercises (without solutions) at the end of each chapter. An Instructor's Manual, including solutions to the text's unanswered exercises and featuring other pedagogical aids, is available. (shrink)
This essay is a response to Patrick Reider’s essay “Sellars on Perception, Science and Realism: A Critical Response.” Reider is correct that Sellars’s realism is in tension with his generally Kantian approach to issues of knowledge and mind, but I do not think Reider’s analysis correctly locates the sources of that tension or how Sellars himself hoped to be able to resolve it. Reider’s own account of idealism and the reasons supporting it are rooted in the epistemological tradition that informed (...) the British empiricists, rather than in the metaphysical reasons that ruled within the German tradition from Leibniz through Hegel that has much more in common with Sellars’s position. Thus, Reider takes Sellars’s notion of picturing to be just another version of the representationalism that has dominated the Anglo-American tradition since Locke, whereas, in my view, because picturing is a non-semantical relation, it is an important ingredient in naturalizing the coherentist theories of the idealists. (shrink)
In one corner Socrates; in the other, on the mat, his cat Felix. Socrates, of course, thinks (correctly) that Felix the Cat is on the mat. But there’s the rub. For Socrates to think that Felix is on the mat, he has to be able to think about Felix, that is, he has to have some sort of cognitive grasp of an individual — and not just any individual, but Felix himself. How is that possible? What is going on when (...) we think about things? (shrink)
How do people ordinarily attribute mental states to other entities? Clearly, people take physical features into account when assessing whether an organism is likely to occupy particular mental states. An eyeless cave fish, for instance, will be thought unlikely to occupy visual states. However according to one recent theory, people use information about physical constitution not only in this piecemeal fashion to determine which mental states an organism is likely to occupy, but also to draw a fundamental distinction between entities (...) that can merely think and entities that can also feel (Knobe & Prinz 2008). According to this view, people recognize a deep discontinuity between phenomenal and intentional states, such that they refrain from attributing feelings and experiences to entities that do not have the right kind of body, though they may attribute thoughts to entities that lack a biological body, like corporations, robots, and disembodied souls. Alternatively, some have denied that there is any deep discontinuity between the physical features that lead us to attribute the two varieties of mental states (Arico et al. 2011). In other words, the cognitive process that leads us to attribute mental states to various entities does not distinguish between the physical features necessary for intentional states and the physical features necessary for phenomenal states. -/- In this paper we examine some of the research that has been used to motivate the discontinuity view. Specifically, we focus on experiments that examine people's intuitions regarding the aptness of various mental state ascriptions to groups. These studies have been taken as evidence that people are more inclined to think of groups as having intentionality than as having phenomenology. This result, combined with the fact that groups obviously lack a single biological body, has been taken as evidence that people use information about physical constitution in fundamentally different ways when attributing the two kinds of states. However, as we explain, these studies support a discontinuous picture of folk metaphysics of mind only on the assumption that the experimental participants are interpreting the relevant group mental state ascriptions in a very specific way. Thus, we empirically investigate how people are interpreting group mental state ascriptions and present evidence that they are not interpreting these ascriptions in a way that supports the discontinuity view. Instead, we argue that people generally interpret group mental state ascriptions distributively, as attributions of mental states to group members, which supervene on, but are not equivalent to, persons. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that, if a common form of materialism is true, I cannot know my own thoughts, or even that I am thinking. I conclude that, since I can and do know these things, materialism about mind as I characterize it must be false.
Mentalistic (or Lockean) accounts of personal identity are normally formulated in terms of causal relations between psychological states such as beliefs, memories, and intentions. In this paper we develop an alternative (but still Lockean) account of personal identity, based on phenomenal relations between experiences. We begin by examining a notorious puzzle case due to Bernard Williams, and extract two lessons from it: first, that Williams's puzzle can be defused by distinguishing between the psychological and phenomenal approaches, second, that so far (...) as personal identity is concerned, it is phenomenal rather than psychological continuity that matters. We then consider different ways in which the phenomenal approach may be developed, and respond to a number of objections. That with which the consciousness of this present thinkingthing can join itself, makes the same person, and is one self with it, and with nothing else; and so attributes to itself and owns all the actions of that thing, as its own, as far as that consciousness reaches, and no farther; as every one who reflects will perceive. Locke, Essay Concerning Human Understanding [II.xxvii.17]. (shrink)
Abstract Narrative thinking has a very important role in our ordinary everyday lives?in our thinking about fiction, about the historical past, about how things might have been, and about our own past and our plans for the future. In this paper, which is part of a larger project, I will be focusing on just one kind of narrative thinking: the kind that we sometimes engage in when we think about, evaluate, and respond emotionally to, our own past (...) lives from a perspective that is external to the remembered events. Being able to do this is an essential part of what it is to have a narrative sense of self. Sometimes, I will suggest, we fail to have such responses?we are not able to think and feel as we should about an episode in our lives. On such occasions, there is a gap in our narrative sense of self?a gap which opens up especially where the past is in some sense tragic or traumatic. The desire to close this gap is what I will call a desire for emotional closure. (shrink)
Many personal identity theorists claim that persons are distinct from the animals that constitute them, but when combined with the plausible assumption that animals share the thoughts of the persons they constitute, this denial results in an excess of thinkers and a host of related problems. I consider a number of non-animalist solutions to these problems and argue that they fail. I argue further that satisfactory non-animalist solutions are not forthcoming and that in order to avoid these problems we ought (...) to affirm our identity with animals. I then discuss arguments to the effect that i) animalism faces its own problems of too many thinkers, arising from the non- identity of animals with thinking bodies and thinking body parts, and ii) that in order to avoid these problems we must deny not just that there are persons distinct from animals, but that there are bodies and body parts distinct from animals Once the second of these claims is granted, there is a short further step to the conclusion that there are no such things as body parts, and from there there is a direct route to eliminative animalism. Eliminative animalism denies not only that there are persons distinct from animals, but that there are any composite objects distinct from animals. This position has been gaining popularity recently, but I argue that we need not, and indeed should not, accept it. Although the problems of the thinking animal do commit us to animalism, the problems of thinking bodies and thinking body parts do not commit us to eliminate animalism. (shrink)
Humans clearly have trouble thinking about death. This trouble is often used to explain behavior like delay in writing wills or buying life insurance, or interest in odd medical and religious beliefs. But the problem is far worse than most people imagine. Fear of death makes us spend ﬁfteen percent of our income on medicine, from which we get little or no health beneﬁt, while we neglect things like exercise, which oﬀer large health beneﬁts.
This paper explores Church's Thesis and related claims madeby Turing. Church's Thesis concerns computable numerical functions, whileTuring's claims concern both procedures for manipulating uninterpreted marksand machines that generate the results that these procedures would yield. Itis argued that Turing's claims are true, and that they support (the truth of)Church's Thesis. It is further argued that the truth of Turing's and Church'sTheses has no interesting consequences for human cognition or cognitiveabilities. The Theses don't even mean that computers can do as much (...) as peoplecan when it comes to carrying out effective procedures. For carrying out aprocedure is a purposive, intentional activity. No actual machine does, orcan do, as much. (shrink)
Abstract: This paper reflects on the political importance of the activity of thinking and suggests that Arendt's space of politics may not be limited to its traditional abode within the public realm. Beyond the public realm of politics, Arendt's defense of political action requires attention to the private as well. What has been overlooked amidst all the attention to Arendt's defense of the public realm of politics over and against the rise of the social is her equally strong insistence (...) upon a vibrant and secure private realm where active thinking is possible. Arendt's private realm is a space of solitude that is the necessary prerequisite for the activity of thinking. Indeed, it is solitude that nurtures and fosters thoughtfulness and thus prepares individuals for the possibility of political action. To create a meaningful politics amidst the loneliness of the modern world, Arendt suggests, requires solitude, which she sees as the cradle of thinking. (shrink)
Russell's Principle states that in order to think about an object I must know which thing it is, in the sense of being able to distinguish it from all other things. I show that, contra Strawson, Evans and Cassam, Russell's Principle cannot be applied to first-person thought so as to yield necessary conditions of self-consciousness. Footnotes1 Thanks to Naomi Eilan, Keith Hossack, Lucy O'Brien and Ann Whittle for helpful comments.
Increasingly, Deaf activists claim that it can be good to be Deaf. Still, much of the hearing world remains unconvinced, and continues to think of deafness in negative terms. I examine this debate and argue that to determine whether it can be good to be deaf it is necessary to examine each claimed advantage or disadvantage of being deaf, and then to make an overall judgment regarding the net cost or benefit. On the basis of such a survey I conclude (...) that being deaf may plausibly be a good thing for some deaf people but not for others. (shrink)
In "Freedom and Resentment," P. F. Strawson argues that the "profound opposition" between the objective and reactive stances is quite compatible with our rationally retaining the latter as important elements in a recognizably human life. Unless he can establish this, he has no hope of establishing his version of compatibilism in the free will debate. But, because objectivity is associated so intimately with the rationally conducted explanation of action, it is not clear how the opposition of these stances is compatible (...) with the rationality of the reactive attitudes. More to the point, it is not clear how an intellectual activity like shifting from the reactive to the objective stance can dispel reactive attitudes without thereby also rationally disqualifying them. I solve this puzzle by drawing on the idea that one cognitive component of emotions is the rationally optional "shift of attention," a feature which in turn helps to explain a lot about the role reactive emotions can play in the fixation of belief. (shrink)
Despite his extended readings of parts of the Antigone of Sophocles, Heidegger nowhere explicitly sets about giving us a theory of tragedy or a detailed analysis of the essence of tragedy. The following paper seeks to piece together Heidegger's understanding of tragedy and tragic experience by looking to themes in his thinking – particularly his analyses of early Greek thinking – and connecting them both to his scattered references to tragedy and actual examples from Greek tragedy. What we (...) find is that, for Heidegger, tragedy is an interruption of speculation, a refusal to philosophize, a way of showing how things are that resonates with the goal of Heidegger's own thinking. (shrink)
In this paper, we present an especially effective tool for helping students to learn and apply the skills of critical reasoning. Our Writing Portfolio Project is a set of nine progressively staged writing assignments that guide students through the formulation and development of an argumentative paper. The set of assignments are designed to reinforce, reintroduce, and repeat critical reasoning skills. In this paper, we articulate the potential uses for the Writing Portfolio Project, give a brief explanation of the reasoning behind (...) the format of the project, and indicate ways one might implement the Writing Portfolio Project into one's curriculum. (shrink)
Recent trends in the philosophy of mind and cognitive science can be fruitfully characterized as part of the ongoing attempt to come to grips with the very idea of homo sapiens--an intelligent, evolved, biological agent--and its signature contribution is the emergence of a philosophical anthropology which, contra Descartes and his thinkingthing, instead puts doing at the center of human being. Applying this agency-oriented line of thinking to the problem of representation, this paper introduces the Guidance Theory, (...) according to which the content and intentionality of representations can be accounted for in terms of the way they provide guidance for action. We offer a brief account of the motivation for the theory, and a formal characterization. (shrink)
The split in our thinking between "masculine" and "feminine" is probably as old as language itself. Human beings seem to have a natural tendency to divide things into pairs: good/bad, light/dark, subject/object and so on. It is not surprising, then, that the male/female or masculine/feminine dichotomy is used to classify things other than men and women. Many languages actually classify all nouns as "masculine" or "feminine" (although not very consistently: for example, the Spanish masculine noun pollo means "hen", while (...) the feminine polla is slang for "penis"). This is perfectly natural; it is part of the way categorisation works in language. This does not, however, mean that it is right. It is probably unimportant whether a table or a chair is thought of as masculine or feminine. It may not even be very important these days whether we think of the sun as male and the moon as female (like the ancient Greeks) or vice versa (like most of the German tribes). However, when we start associating abstract concepts like Reason or Nature with men and women, we run into serious difficulties. (shrink)
: Two major philosophers of the twentieth century, the German existential phenomenologist Martin Heidegger and the seminal Japanese Kyoto School philosopher Nishida Kitarō are examined here in an attempt to discern to what extent their ideas may converge. Both are viewed as expressing, each through the lens of his own tradition, a world in transition with the rise of modernity in the West and its subsequent globalization. The popularity of Heidegger's thought among Japanese philosophers, despite its own admitted limitation to (...) the Western "history of being," is connected to Nishida's opening of a uniquely Japanese path in its confrontation with Western philosophy. The focus is primarily on their later works (the post-Kehre Heidegger and the works of Nishida that have been designated "Nishida philosophy"), in which each in his own way attempts to overcome the subject-object dichotomy inherited from the tradition of Western metaphysics by looking to a deeper structure from out of which both subjectivity and objectivity are derived and which embraces both. For Heidegger, the answer lies in being as the opening of unconcealment, from out of which beings emerge, and for Nishida, it is the place of nothingness within which beings are co-determined in their oppositions and relations. Concepts such as Nishida's "discontinuous continuity," "absolutely self-contradictory identity" (between one and many, whole and part, world and things), the mutual interdependence of individuals, and the self-determination of the world through the co-relative self-determination of individuals, and Heidegger's "simultaneity" (zugleich) and "within one another" (ineinander) (of unconcealment and concealment, presencing and absencing), and their "between" (Zwischen) and "jointure" (Fuge) are examined. Through a discussion of these ideas, the suggestion is made of a possible "transition" (Übergang) of both Western and Eastern thinking, in their mutual encounter, both in relation to each other and each in relation to its own past history, leading to both a self-discovery in the other and to a simultaneous self-reconstitution. (shrink)
... a thinking intelligent Being, that has reason and reflection, and can consider itself as itself, the same thinkingthing in different times and places; which it only does by the consciousness, which is inseparable from thinking ... [Essay II, xxvii, '9].
On the point that, in practices of critical thinking, we respond spontaneously in concrete situations, this paper presents an account on behalf of Wittgenstein. I argue that the ‘seeing-things-aright’ model of Luntley's Wittgenstein is not adequate, since it pays insufficient attention to radically new circumstances, in which the content of norms is updated. While endorsing Bailin's emphasis on criteria of critical thinking, Wittgenstein would agree with Papastephanou and Angeli's demand to look behind criteriology. He maintains the primacy of (...) the practical, and yet contends that a reasonable person lets rules of rationality compel her. These rules are not mere heuristics. I further examine Burbules' conception of communicative reason, and, among others, his interpretation of Wittgenstein's sign-post example. (shrink)