The so called "Knowledge Argument" of Frank Jackson 1 claims to show that there is something about the human mind that must inevitably escape the grasp of physical science: "There are truths about . . . people which escape the physicalist story" . In effect, materialism is false, and science, as opposed to metaphysics, cannot hope to attain to an understanding of consciousness.
REMARKS ON EVOLUTION AND TIME-SCALES, Graham Cairns-Smith; HODGSON'S BLACK BOX, Thomas Clark; DO HODGSON'S PROPOSITIONS UNIQUELY CHARACTERIZE FREE WILL?, Ravi Gomatam; WHAT SHOULD WE RETAIN FROM A PLAIN PERSON'S CONCEPT OF FREE WILL?, Gilberto Gomes; ISOLATING DISPARATE CHALLENGES TO HODGSON'S ACCOUNT OF FREE WILL, Liberty Jaswal; FREE AGENCY AND LAWS OF NATURE, Robert Kane; SCIENCE VERSUS REALIZATION OF VALUE, NOT DETERMINISM VERSUS CHOICE, Nicholas Maxwell; COMMENTS ON HODGSON, J.J.C. Smart; THE VIEW FROM WITHIN, Sean Spence; COMMENTARY ON HODGSON, (...) Henry Stapp. (shrink)
Examining Thomas Hill Green's moral philosophy, Thomas defends a radically new perception of Green as an independent thinker rather than a devoted partisan of Kant or Hegel. Green's moral philosophy, argues Thomas, includes a widely misunderstood defense of free will, an innovative model of deliberation that rejects both Kantian and Humean conceptions of practical reason, a barely recognized theory of character, and an account of moral objectivity that involves no dependence on religion--all of which yield a coherent (...) body of moral philosophy that raises important problems neglected in contemporary ethics. (shrink)
Feminist philosophers are right to criticize Hegel’s prejudices against women. In many of his works, Hegel reduces women to their physiology as means of explaining why they occupy a subordinate role in nature and in society. Such treatment seems arbitrary at best, for the gendering of roles disrupts Hegel’s dialectical approach to spirit without any meaningful gain. Despite this defect in Hegel’s work, what is positive in Hegelian social and political philosophy remains intact. In this paper I argue that the (...) sexist claims that Hegel makes about women are irrelevant to his theory of the family in the Philosophy of Right. Therein, Hegel outlines three components that are necessary for the completion of the family: marriage, property and assets, and the raising of children. Hegel also includes a description of the different roles occupied by family members and divides these roles along gender lines. Given the three components that are essential to the family, I argue that there is no necessary basis for familial roles to be divided by gender. (shrink)
This Article examines the genesis and evolution of the Restatements of Property. The author argues that, while the Restatement (First) of Property took as its original purpose to restate the law, in the course of its creation it was turned to reform. Subsequent Restatements of Property are dedicated almost wholly to reform. The author concludes that this shift in objectives has sparked criticism and rendered these works of less value and interest to the legislatures, bench and the bar, which have (...) largely ignored the property Restatements. (shrink)
This article was written as a commentary on a target article by Peter W. Ross entitled "The Location Problem for Color Subjectivism" [Consciousness and Cognition 10(1), 42-58 (2001)], and is published together with it, and with other commentaries and Ross's reply. If you or your library have the necessary subscription you can get PDF versions of the target article, all the commentaries, and Ross's reply to the commentaries here. However, I do not think that it is by any means essential (...) for you to have read Ross's piece in order to understand this one. Ross defends a view called "color physicalism" or color realism that holds (simplifying somewhat) that colors are real physical properties (in typical cases, spectral reflectances of object surfaces). This is in opposition to what is probably a more widely held "subjectivist" view of color, holding that color qualities really exist only in the mind. In my commentary I suggest that a realist view of qualitative properties, such as Ross's, together with a direct, active view of perception, and a concept of "extended mind" (Clark & Chalmers, 1998) may provide the materials for a real solution to the notorious hard problem of consciousness. I sketch this solution in outline. - N.J.T.T. (shrink)
Twentieth century philosophy and psychology have been peculiarly averse to mental images. Throughout nearly two and a half millennia of philosophical wrangling, from Aristotle to Hume to Bergson, images (perceptual and quasi-perceptual experiences), sometimes under the alias of "ideas", were almost universally considered to be both the prime contents of consciousness, and the vehicles of cognition. The founding fathers of experimental psychology saw no reason to dissent from this view, it was commonsensical, and true to the lived experience of conscious (...) thinking. However, early in this century, just about when the behaviorist revolution in psychology was loudly declaring the scientific illegitimacy of any attempt to study consciousness, and the concomitant non-existence of imagery (Watson, 1913; see Thomas, 1989), philosophy was undergoing its "linguistic turn", a turn to seeing philosophy as essentially about language rather than the world, even the 'inner' world. For decades, the very concept of the mental image was suspect, and it was certainly banished from playing any major role in theories of mind and of thinking. Ralph Ellis' Questioning Consciousness, together with the recent speculations of certain influential neuroscientists (Edelman, 1992; Damasio, 1994), may be signaling the end this unusual era. (shrink)
The concepts of imagination and consciousness have, very arguably, been inextricably intertwined at least since Aristotle initiated the systematic study of human cognition (Thomas, 1998). To imagine something is ipso facto to be conscious of it (even if the wellsprings of imaginative creativity are in the unconscious), and many have held that our conscious thinking consists largely or entirely in a succession of mental images, the products of imagination (see, e.g., Damasio, 1994 -- or, come to that, see Aristotle, (...) or Hume, or almost any pre-twentieth century cognitive theorist). A venerable tradition also regards perceptual experiences, the main focus of most recent work on consciousness, as products of the imagination, whose primary function is to integrate sensory inputs and render them meaningful (Thomas, 1998, 1999). As Coleridge (1817) famously put it, primary imagination is "the living power and prime agent of all human perception." A better understanding of imagination is likely to deepen our insight into the nature of consciousness (and, probably, vice-versa). (shrink)
Stich & Ravenscroft (1994) have argued that (contrary to most people's initial assumptions) a simulation account of folk psychology may be consistent with eliminative materialism, but they fail to bring out the full complexity or the potential significance of the relationship. Contemporary eliminativism (particularly in the Churchland version) makes two major claims: the first is a rejection of the orthodox assumption that realistically construed propositional attitudes are fundamental to human cognition; the second is the suggestion that with the advancement of (...) scientific understanding of the mind it will be possible to entirely eliminate the mentalistic and intentional from our ontology, thus dissolving the mind-body problem. The first claim (which has been argued in detail) supplies the principal grounds for accepting the second, much more ambitious and significant, claim. Robert Gordon's (1995, 1996, 2000) radical simulation theory of "folk psychology", proposed initially (Gordon, 1986) as an alternative to "theory theory" accounts of self and interpersonal understanding, but subsequently developing into a quite general challenge to symbolic computational accounts of mind, is not merely consistent with, but actually provides considerable additional support for, the first eliminativist claim. However, although radical simulationism has no use for reified propositional attitudes, it relies on another family of mentalistic and intentional notions, including perspective taking, "seeing as", pretending, imagery, and, most centrally, imagination. It is thus inconsistent with eliminativist metaphysical ambitions. Nevertheless, from this perspective the mind-body problem is transformed. Its solution no longer depends on accounting directly for the intentionality of the attitudes, but rather on accounting for the intentionality of imagination. Although standard accounts of imagination derive its intentionality from that of the attitudes, the recently proposed "perceptual activity" theory of imagery and imagination (Thomas, 1999) can provide a direct account of the intentionality of imagination that is consistent with physicalism.. (shrink)
This is the first of the St. Thomas More lecture series given at Yale, and is written by one of the most noted Catholic intellectual historians. Presented to a general student audience, it traces in fluent style, with allusions in as well as outside of philosophy proper, the gradual decline of the dimension of the divine as a contemporary historical reality. Father Murray concludes that the "Death of God" in our times has brought theology back from preoccupation with correct (...) articulations to the fundamental problem of the "presence" of God in human life as it was understood in Biblical and patristic times.—T. E. V. (shrink)
In late August 2012, artist Paul Thomas and philosopher Timothy Morton took a stroll up and down King Street in Newtown, Sydney. They took photographs. If you walk too slowly down the street, you find yourself caught in the honey of aesthetic zones emitted by thousands and thousands of beings. If you want to get from A to B, you had better hurry up. Is there any space between anything? Do we not, when we look for such a space, (...) encounter a plenitude of other things —a slice of plaster, an old vinyl record, a flattened piece of aluminum, painted metal surfaces, nameless interstitial powder, the reflection of sky, some letters of the alphabet, roughened concrete. Between what we take to be things there exist other things, as if the universe were jammed with entities like clowns in a crowded Expressionist painting. An abyss of things that emanates from them, not a yawning void that threatens to engulf them, but a sunlit nothingness filled with dust that seems to spray out of them like dry mist sparkling with firefly swarms. In these so-called spaces, we encounter the work of causality. Look: someone painted over this crack, some sunlight rippled in a mirage, a hole appeared. When we look for causes and effects, we don't encounter a basement of efficiently whirring machinery. Rather, we encounter these in-between spaces, where we had not thought to look. What we see are stage hands moving the scenery about—they are doing it in plain sight, the best place to hide, right in front of you, in the place we call the aesthetic dimension . In Tibetan Buddhism these spaces are called bardo , which just means the between. There is no such thing as a moment of your life that is not a between, according to this view. There is the between of living. There is the between of dying. There is the between of the transition between lives. There is the between of dreaming. There is the between of meditation. There is the between of two humans holding cameras walking down a street in Sydney. The between of two buildings, a space bursting with objects as if a billion jack in the boxes had exploded at once. Some of the lids are stuck, sometimes a nose bursts out and the hinge won't open any further; at other times, the jack in the box flies right out and pulps against the wall on the opposite side of the room. Time opens up. Each surface is a poem about the past. A myriad stories begin to proliferate, as if a thing were a crisscrossing of books, a whole library of them, each page whispering parts of paragraphs and broken pieces of word. The stories tell us things—they are quite literal, look, this guy painted part of this wall, then they came and stripped off the panel and touched up the holes. Form is the past. When you look at appearance, you are looking at the past. Where is the present? And essence is the future. The hints of unknown, unseen things, the absolute impossibility of grasping everything about this plastic pipe, the way photons entering the camera lens obey a speed limit and splash onto receptors, going into and out of coherence. At the electronic level, it's quite clear that causality is aesthetic. I can't see an electron without deflecting it. Everything is a refrigerator with a light on—or off—inside. For me, for you, for this arrangement of tiles sandwiched between a door and a slab of marble. To a photon, an electron is a refrigerator with a closed door, and a light that might be on—or off—inside. How can you know whether the light is on inside? Why, you open the door of course. But then you are looking at the past. You never see the light in the refrigerator before you open the door. This future is not a predictable future that is a specific number of now-points away. You will never reach it. You will never be able to sneak up from the side and see through the refrigerator. Nor can a photon see through the refrigerator of an electron. Nor can paint see through the refrigerator of this plastic pipe. You take a photo—click—the past appears, another open refrigerator. But the thing you have just made, the photograph, the graphing of the photons—it is another thing, another story. You can read the words, but the meaning always eludes you. It always lurks just off the edge of the sentence, just at the very edge of this ragged slice of paint, just at the edge of this building, between this one and that one. Thousands of secrets, everywhere. Masks that lie and tell the truth at the same time: this pink paint is not blue paint, that's true. But the thing, the thing in itself, that paint sliding off a brush onto that pipe—it is nowhere to be seen, like a light behind a closed door. When you walk too slowly down the street, you start walking into millions of levels of pastness, levels emitted not just by the humans or the dogs and cats, but also by this garbage can, this mottled pink surface pockmarked with nail holes. You walk surrounded by as many futures as there are things. You walk, or rather you occupy a peculiar shifting ground of nowness, created by the relative motion of the past sliding against the future, not touching. You begin to realize that the present does not exist. A thing is a train station where one train is always arriving and one train is always leaving. Hundreds of train stations everywhere, hundreds of relative motions. The idea of a universal, regular, atomic sequence of instants that contains everything is absolutely ludicrous, the philosophers have known this for thousands of years, and to hide the absurdity, to get from A to B, Houston to Sydney, crossing the International Date Line without too much laughter, you have embedded piezoelectric devices in as many pieces of hardware as possible, devices in which quartz talks to electrons, making train stations where the trains seem to run on time. When you walk too slowly down the street, you begin to realize that Zeno had a point. You can seemingly divide each moment, each step, infinitesimally. So perhaps there are no moments, no steps. Or perhaps time is not a box that everything goes in. Perhaps time is, as Einstein argued after all, a way that things send out ripples. Where one house touches another house, there arise hundreds of things, hundreds of meeting places (Old English thing , meeting place). Hundreds of times. I have a thing for you. Come over here, let's do a thing. Stay in the sunlight and shadow between worlds, in the sunlit canyon between this building and that building. See how paint touches this pipe, caressing then leaving, no one will notice if a surface is left exposed, not quite filled in. See how shadows are reflected in pale cream glass—see the luminous abyss of causality spreading out before your very eyes, right in front of security. All kinds of beautiful crimes are committed right here, and as American cars keep telling you, and you never notice, OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR. They are here, or rather, here is them, and now is them. Kissing in the shadow. Tim Morton Rice University. (shrink)
Commentary on "On Specification and the Senses," by Thomas A. Stoffregen and Benoît G. Bardy: Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 24, 195-261 (2001). The target article's value lies not in its defence of specification, or the "global array" concept, but in its challenge to the paradigm of 5+ senses, and its examples of multiple receptor types cooperatively participating in specific information pick-up tasks. Rather than analysing our perceptual endowment into 5+ senses, it is more revealing to type perceptual systems according to (...) task. (shrink)
This debate, principally between myself (Nigel Thomas) and Patrick Hayes, the well known computer scientist and Artificial Intelligence researcher, took place through the internet mailing list for the discussion of the scientific study of consciousness, PSYCHE-D (moderated by Patrick Wilken), which is associated with the on-line journal PSYCHE. The discussion touches on the various different senses in which the expression "mental image" may be used, the underlying cognitive mechanisms of imagery, and the relevance of an understanding of imagery to (...) the understanding of conscious thought, and thought in general. As the debate became rather 'unthreaded' on the list, following it through this page may help the reader to better understand what was going on. (shrink)
An assessment of a protocol devised to guide practitioners thinking of using covert video surveillance. Such surveillance is particularly used to help identify cases of Munchausen's syndrome by proxy. The protocol in question has been written by staff at the Academic Department of Paediatrics, North Staffordshire Hospital, Stoke-on-Trent in association with their local Area Child Protection Committee and has been commended by the Department of Health to others wishing to implement covert video surveillance.
This paper is a response to Dr Shinebourne's response to my recent paper assessing the relative merits of the Staffordshire Protocol on covert video surveillance. Dr Shinebourne does not take the opportunity to rebut the criticisms made of the text of the protocol. It is further suggested that judicial oversight of the use of CVS might accord the process a degree of proportionality.
This essay examines the role of the University of Bridgeport's Faculty Council in relation to the faculty union. The Faculty Council is a governing body composed of elected faculty representatives from different schools and departments within the university. Faculty Council leaders facilitated the certification of AAUP as the faculty's bargaining agent in 1973 and, under the author's leadership, the faculty petitioned the National Labor Relations Board to decertify the union in 1991. The author participated on the picket line during the (...) 1975, 1978 and 1987 faculty strikes, but crossed the picket line during the 1990 strike. (shrink)
Mental imagery (varieties of which are sometimes colloquially refered to as “visualizing,” “seeing in the mind's eye,” “hearing in the head,” “imagining the feel of,” etc.) is quasi-perceptual experience; it resembles perceptual experience, but occurs in the absence of the appropriate external stimuli. It is also generally understood to bear intentionality (i.e., mental images are always images of something or other), and thereby to function as a form of mental representation. Traditionally, visual mental imagery, the most discussed variety, was thought (...) to be caused by the presence of picturelike representations (mental images) in the mind, soul, or brain, but this is no longer universally accepted. (shrink)
A theory of the structure and cognitive function of the human imagination that attempts to do justice to traditional intuitions about its psychological centrality is developed, largely through a detailed critique of the theory propounded by Colin McGinn. Like McGinn, I eschew the highly deflationary views of imagination, common amongst analytical philosophers, that treat it either as a conceptually incoherent notion, or as psychologically trivial. However, McGinn fails to develop his alternative account satisfactorily because (following Reid, Wittgenstein and Sartre) he (...) draws an excessively sharp, qualitative distinction between imagination and perception, and because of his flawed, empirically ungrounded conception of hallucination. His arguments in defense of these views are rebutted in detail, and the traditional, passive, Cartesian view of visual perception, upon which several of them implicitly rely, is criticized in the light of findings from recent cognitive science and neuroscience. It is also argued that the apparent intuitiveness of the passive view of visual perception is a result of mere historical contingency. An understanding of perception (informed by modern visual science) as an inherently active process enables us to unify our accounts of perception, mental imagery, dreaming, hallucination, creativity, and other aspects of imagination within a single coherent theoretical framework. (shrink)