Recently, brain imaging has provided controversial evidence of persisting awareness in some people whose brains are so severely injured that consciousness is minimal or absent, but in whom prolongation of life depends on the provision of continuing medical care. The clinicians understanding of the persistent vegetative state is briefly outlined and the evidence provided by brain imaging of awareness in this condition is reviewed. Information regarding consciousness in progressive acquired dementias are considered in the context of management of these conditions. (...) This leads to the conclusion that quality of consciousness was more important than its presence or absence in managing people with impaired consciousness. (shrink)
A brief poll of my scientific colleagues confirmed that, to a person, they regard addiction as a disease, whereas most non-science acquaintances consider it to be a failure of willpower. Reconciliation of these polarized views seems difficult and rather than finding a middle path, such as suggested by Foddy and Savulescu. I am an entrenched supporter of the view that addiction can be a disease. I first should declare my position as a card-carrying biologist, holding the view that behavior emanates (...) from the brain and, accordingly, that behavior and emotions result from brain function. This brain function also produces addiction and related behaviors, whereas Foddy and Savulescu seem to credit humans with a greater capacity to choose than biological evidence suggests. The second problem relates to definitions of disease: I argue that there are at least three ways addiction might be considered a disease. 1.? ? ? Addiction is a disease because it results in pathology. For example, hypertension is a disease. Hypertension per se does not cause dysfunction, but leads to pathologically definable conditions such as stroke and myocardial infarction. Smoking, like hypertension, can result in pathologies such as emphysema and cancer. The problem is not smoking per se, or even addiction to nicotine, rather it is the consequent diseases caused by tobacco. Nevertheless, if hypertension is a disease, so is smoking. The question of “choosing‘ to persist with smoking has no bearing on whether it is disease. Whether a person chooses to care for their hypertension or ignore it does not alter the fact that they have hypertension; it is still a disease and it will still harm them. Whether addiction affects the capacity to choose is not relevant because it does not alter the fact that smoking causes pathology and hence is a disease. 2.? ? ? Foddy and Savulescu argue that addiction leaves no tell-tale pathology to set it aside from. (shrink)
In April 1939, G. E. Moore read a paper to the Cambridge University Moral Science Club entitled ‘Certainty’. In it, amongst other things, Moore made the claims that: the phrase ‘it is certain’ could be used with sense-experience-statements, such as ‘I have a pain’, to make statements such as ‘It is certain that I have a pain’; and that sense-experience-statements can be said to be certain in the same sense as some material-thing-statements can be — namely in the sense that (...) they can be safely counted on. When Moore later read his paper to Wittgenstein, Wittgenstein took violent exception to it, and the two entered into a heated exchange. The only known notes of this exchange are a previously unpublished verbatim record of part of it, taken by Norman Malcolm. This paper is an edition of Malcolm’s notes. These notes are valuable for both philosophical and scholarly reasons. They give us a glimpse of a sustained exchange between Wittgenstein and a real-life interlocutor; they contain a defence by Wittgenstein of the idea that a word’s use can illuminate its meaning; and they provide evidence of Wittgenstein’s philosophical engagement with the topic of certainty, and with Moore’s thought on it, long before he began to write the notes which make up On Certainty, in 1949. (shrink)
Recently some philosophers have proposed that the later philosophy of Wittgenstein tends towards idealism, or even solipsism. The solipsism is said to be of a peculiar kind. It is characterized as a ‘collective’ or ‘aggregative’ solipsism. The solipsism or idealism is also said to be ‘transcendental’. In the first part of this paper I will be examining a recent essay by Professor Bernard Williams, in which he presents what he takes to be the grounds for such an interpretation of Wittgenstein. (...) After that I will try to offer convincing evidence that no tendency towards any form of idealism is to be found in Wittgenstein's later philosophy. (shrink)
The philosophy of memory has been largely dominated by what could be called ‘the representative theory of memory’. In trying to give an account of ‘what goes on in one's mind’ when one remembers something, or of what ‘the mental content of remembering’ consists, philosophers have usually insisted that there must be some sort of mental image, picture, or copy of what is remembered. Aristotle said that there must be ‘something like a picture or impression’; William James thought that there (...) must be in the mind 'an image or copy’ of the original event; Russell said that ‘Memory demands an image’. In addition to the image or copy a variety of other mental phenomena have been thought to be necessary. In order for a memory image to be distinguished from an expectation image, the former must be accompanied by ‘a feeling of pastness’. One has confidence that the image is of something that actually occurred because the image is attended by ‘a feeling of familiarity’. And in order that you may be sure that the past event not merely occurred but that you witnessed it, your image of the event must be presented to you with a feeling of ‘warmth and intimacy’. When all the required phenomena are put together, the mental content of remembering turns out to be, as William James says, ‘a very complex representation’. (shrink)
Mystics have always claimed that a very significant kind of self-perception is possible, at the end of certain spiritual disciplines. The self that is then supposed to be known is a unity, identical from one experience to the next, and not to be identified with any particular experiences, such as impressions or ideas, which the self has. In short, mystical testimony supports something like a theory of the essential self as simple and unchanging.
Since the late nineteenth century, studies of mysticism have presented us with two contrasting conclusions. The first is that mystics all over the world report basically the same experience, and the second is that there are great differences among the reports, and possibly among the experiences. On the positive side there are such works as Huxley's The Perennial Philosophy , with its claim that all mystics say that all beings are manifestations of a Divine Ground, that men learn of this (...) by direct intuition, that men have two natures, one phenomenal and one eternal, and that identification with his eternal nature is the purpose of man. Walter Stace supports this view, in a modified way, with his observation that, while each mystic seems to advance a peculiar explanation of his experience, their statements collectively exhibit strong similarities. Mystics commonly report a consciousness of unity, carrying with it feelings of objectivity, blessedness, and holiness. They describe their experience in paradoxical language, and say that ultimately it is ineffable. These twentieth-century observations are repetitions of those of William James, so that this basic point has become a cliché, and, as R. C. Zaehner says, ‘We have been told ad nauseum that mysticism is the highest expression of religion and that it appears in all ages and in all places in a more or less identical form, often in a religious milieu that would seem to be the reverse of propitious.’. (shrink)
Wittgenstein was one of the most powerful influences on contemporary philosophy, yet he shunned publicity and was essentially a private man. This remarkable, vivid, personal memoir is written by one of his friends, the eminent philosopher Norman Malcolm. Reissued in paperback, this edition includes the complete text of fifty-seven letters which Wittgenstein wrote to Malcolm over a period of eleven years. Also included is a concise biographical sketch by another of Wittgenstein's philosopher friends, Georg Henrik von Wright. 'A (...) reader does not need to care about philosophy to be excited by Mr Malcolm's book; it is about Wittgenstein as a man, and its interest is human interest'. (shrink)
These essays are the fruit of many years' research by one of the world's leading Hobbes scholars. Noel Malcolm offers not only succinct introductions to Hobbes 's life and thought, but also path-breaking studies of many different aspects of his political philosophy, his scientific and religious theories, his relations with his contemporaries, the sources of his ideas, the printing history of his works, and his influence on European thought.
In this book, Malcolm presents a new and radical interpretation of Plato's earlier dialogues. He argues that the few cases of self-predication contained therein are acceptable simply as statements concerning universals, and that therefore Plato is not vulnerable in these cases to the Third Man Argument. In considering the middle dialogues, Malcolm takes a conservative stance, rejecting influential current doctrines which portray the Forms as being not self-predicative. He shows that the middle dialogues do indeed take Forms to (...) be both universals and paradigms, and thus to exemplify themselves. The author goes on to consider why Plato should have been unsuccessful in avoiding self-predication. He shows that Plato's concern to explain how the truths of mathematics can indeed be true played an important role in his postulation of the Form as an Ideal Individual. The author concludes with the claim that reflection on the ambiguity of the notion of the "Standard Yard" may help us to appreciate why Plato failed to distinguish Forms as universals from Forms as paradigm cases. (shrink)
Noel Malcolm, one of the world's leading experts on Thomas Hobbes, presents a set of extended essays on a wide variety of aspects of the life and work of this giant of early modern thought. Malcolm offers a succinct introduction to Hobbes's life and thought, as a foundation for his discussion of such topics as his political philosophy, his theory of international relations, the development of his mechanistic world-view, and his subversive Biblical criticism. Several of the essays pay (...) special attention to the European dimensions of Hobbes's life, his sources and his influence; the longest surveys the entire European reception of his work from the 1640s to the 1750s. All the essays are based on a deep knowledge of primary sources, and many present striking new discoveries about Hobbes's life, his manuscripts, and the printing history of his works. Aspects of Hobbes will be essential reading not only for Hobbes specialists, but also for all those interested in seventeenth-century intellectual history more generally, both British and European. (shrink)
Summarya) Bell tries to formulate more explicitly a notion of “local causality”: correlations between physical events in different space‐time regions should be explicable in terms of physical events in the overlap of the backward light cones. It is shown that ordinary relativistic quantum field theory is not locally causal in this sense, and cannot be embedded in a locally causal theory.b) Clauser, Home and Shimony criticize several steps in Bell's argument that any theory of local “beables” is incompatible with quantum (...) mechanics. It is contended that the Clauser‐Horne derivation of a Bell‐type inequality circumvents his weak steps. The Clauser‐Horne derivation must assume that there are no undetected correlations between choices of controllable variables in two space‐like separated regions. Methodological considerations support this assumption.c) In response to criticism by Shimony, Home, and Clauser, Bell tries to clarify the argument of “The theory of local beables”, and to defend as permissible the hypothesis of free variables.d) Bell's reply to an earlier criticism by Shimony, Clauser, and Home is answered. The convergence of Bell's position towards theirs is noted. (shrink)
Acclaimed writer and historian Noel Malcolm presents his sensational discovery of a new work by Thomas Hobbes : a propaganda pamphlet on behalf of the Habsburg side in the Thirty Years' War, translated by Hobbes from a Latin original. Malcolm's book explores a fascinating episode in seventeenth-century history, illuminating both the practice of early modern propaganda and the theory of "reason of state".
To ensnare the sophist of the Sophist in a definition disclosing him as a purveyor of images and falsehoods Plato must block the sophistical defence that image and falsehood are self-contradictory in concept, for they both embody the proposition proscribed by Parmenides — ‘What is not, is’. It has been assumed that Plato regards this defence as depending on a reading of ‘what is not’ in its very strongest sense, where it is equivalent to ‘what is not in any way’ (...) or ‘nothing’. Likewise, the initial paradoxes of not-being are seen as requiring that to mē on be understood in this way, that later designated by Plato as the opposite of to on or ‘being’. On this interpretation, Plato's counter-strategy is to recognise a use of to mē on which is not opposed in this strict sense to being, but is indeed a part of it and is ‘being other than’. In a stimulating article, R. W. Jordan challenges this account. I shall briefly attempt to show that his objections are not decisive and that his own interpretation is open to question. Jordan makes the interesting suggestion that a distinction between two senses of not-being, where one is equivalent to nothing and one is not, dates from the middle dialogues — particularly from Republic V, where objects of agnoia are mēdamē onta and objects of doxa are both onta and mē onta. He concludes, ‘Malcolm's view, then, seems to amount to this: that Plato is now extending the moral he draws about objects of belief in the Republic to cover forms. Forms too now are seen to be both being and notbeing.’. (shrink)
To ensnare the sophist of the Sophist in a definition disclosing him as a purveyor of images and falsehoods Plato must block the sophistical defence that image and falsehood are self-contradictory in concept, for they both embody the proposition proscribed by Parmenides — ‘What is not, is’. It has been assumed that Plato regards this defence as depending on a reading of ‘what is not’ in its very strongest sense, where it is equivalent to ‘what is not in any way’ (...) or ‘nothing’. Likewise, the initial paradoxes of not-being are seen as requiring that to mē on be understood in this way, that later designated by Plato as the opposite of to on or ‘being’. On this interpretation, Plato's counter-strategy is to recognise a use of to mē on which is not opposed in this strict sense to being, but is indeed a part of it and is ‘being other than’. In a stimulating article, R. W. Jordan challenges this account. I shall briefly attempt to show that his objections are not decisive and that his own interpretation is open to question. Jordan makes the interesting suggestion that a distinction between two senses of not-being, where one is equivalent to nothing and one is not, dates from the middle dialogues — particularly from Republic V, where objects of agnoia are mēdamē onta and objects of doxa are both onta and mē onta. He concludes , ‘Malcolm's view, then, seems to amount to this: that Plato is now extending the moral he draws about objects of belief in the Republic to cover forms. Forms too now are seen to be both being and notbeing.’. (shrink)
Noel Malcolm presents his long-awaited critical edition of one of the most important philosophical works ever written. Hobbes's Leviathan (1651) is a classic of political theory and of English prose, studied at every university in the world. The English and Latin versions of the text are fully annotated, with a book-length introduction.
Thomas Hobbes's Leviathan is one of the most important philosophical texts in the English language, and one of the most influential works of political philosophy ever written. This Introduction accompanies Noel Malcolm's long-awaited critical edition, and gives a path-breaking account of the work's context, sources, and textual history.
This is the first critical edition of Hobbes's Leviathan based on a full study of the manuscript and printing history, and the first to place the English text alongside Hobbes's later Latin version of it. Both texts are fully annotated with explanatory notes. Noel Malcolm's definitive edition sets the study of Hobbes's masterwork on a new basis.
Recent studies using functional magnetic resonance imaging of patients in a vegetative state have raised the possibility that such patients retain some degree of consciousness. In this paper, the ethical implications of such findings are outlined, in particular in relation to decisions about withdrawing life-sustaining treatment. It is sometimes assumed that if there is evidence of consciousness, treatment should not be withdrawn. But, paradoxically, the discovery of consciousness in very severely brain-damaged patients may provide more reason to let them die. (...) Although functional neuroimaging is likely to play an increasing role in the assessment of patients in a vegetative state, caution is needed in the interpretation of neuroimaging findings. (shrink)
An attempt is made to answer the question why wittgenstein might have found the analogy between speaking and playing games philosophically exciting. It is argued that on the face of it the two are strikingly disanalogous, But that on reflecting further one can find various features of games (9 are distinguished in all) which are also features of some speech episodes, And the awareness of which could be philosophically significant.
Descartes' proof that his essence is thinking.--Thoughtless brutes.--Descartes' proof that he is essentially a non-material thing.--Behaviorism as a philosophy of psychology.--The privacy of experience.--Wittgenstein on the nature of mind.--The myth of cognitive processes and structures.--Moore and Wittgenstein on the sense of "I know."--The groundlessness of belief.
In his book The View from Nowhere , Thomas Nagel says that ‘the subjectivity of consciousness is an irreducible feature of reality’ . He speaks of ‘the essential subjectivity of the mental’ , and of ‘the mind's irreducibly subjective character’ . ‘Mental concepts’, he says, refer to ‘subjective points of view and their modifications’ : The subjective features of conscious mental processes—as opposed to their physical causes and effects—cannot be captured by the purified form of thought suitable for dealing with (...) the physical world that underlines the appearances. Not only raw feels but also intentional mental states—however objective their content—must be capable of manifesting themselves in subjective form to be in the mind at all. (shrink)