In this volume the author discusses the major trends in the philosophy of religion from Kant to the beginning of the twentieth century. The work is divided into three parts dealing respectively with the methods of study of the religious phenomenon, the nature of religion, and the approach to religion from experience and the principle of immanence. In Part I the theological method, based on revelation and authority, is first discussed; and then the rationalistic method emphasizing the approach to religion (...) from natural reason and having its chief exponents in Kant, Fries, Hegel, Feuerbach and Schleiermacher. Both methods are called aprioristic in contrast with the empirical method adopted by philologists, anthropologists, sociologists and, more recently, by psychologists such as Ribot, Delacroix, Starbuck and William James. Important as it is, the empirical method cannot attain to the essence of religion, which is the chief objective of Lamanna's study. Hence a distinction must be made between science of religion characteristic of the empirical method and philosophy of religion to which the author directs his attention in the second part of his work. Taking as starting point the threefold aspect of psychic life in its dynamic activity, Lamanna groups the various trends in the study of the essence of religion under the following headings: 1) religion as a product of the cognitive function, where both the idealistic doctrines of Hegel, Caird, Vacherot and Spir and the naturalistic doctrines of Gratry, Max Müller, Wundt, and Spencer are analyzed; 2) religion as a product of practical function, where the idealistic theories of Kant, Ritschl, Herrmann, and others are contrasted with the positivistic views of Comte, Durkheim and Nietzsche; 3) religion as a product of the contemplative function, where again idealistic trends as represented by Fries and Schleiermacher are opposed to the naturalistic trends of Schopenhauer, Hartmann and Guyau. The last part of the work is devoted to the study of those theories of religion which stress the approach to God through the inner activity of the self. This may take the form of immediate experience of the divine in the consciousness of the moral ideal ; experience and affirmation of the Absolute immanent in action ; experience and affirmation of the Absolute in the intuition of becoming ; and finally, experience of the divine in the unconscious. In summarizing the results of his inquiry, the author points out the need for an Absolute Reality as the objective goal toward which the inner tendencies of the life of the spirit are directed and as the actualization of the supreme ideals of truth, goodness and beauty. Lamanna's work is a very thorough and extremely informative study that has few equals in the field of philosophy of religion.--B. M. B. (shrink)
In a reflective and richly entertaining piece from 1979, Doug Hofstadter playfully imagined a conversation between ‘Achilles’ and an anthill (the eponymous ‘Aunt Hillary’), in which he famously explored many ideas and themes related to cognition and consciousness. For Hofstadter, the anthill is able to carry on a conversation because the ants that compose it play roughly the same role that neurons play in human languaging; unfortunately, Hofstadter’s work is notably short on detail suggesting how this magic might be achieved1. (...) Conversely in this paper - finally reifying Hofstadter’s imagination - we demonstrate how populations of simple ant-like creatures can be organised to solve complex problems; problems that involve the use of forward planning and strategy. Specifically we will demonstrate that populations of such creatures can be configured to play a strategically strong - though tactically weak - game of HeX (a complex strategic game).We subsequently demonstrate how tactical play can be improved by introducing a form of forward planning instantiated via multiple populations of agents; a technique that can be compared to the dynamics of interacting populations of social insects via the concept of meta-population. In this way although, pace Hofstadter, we do not establish that a meta-population of ants could actually hold a conversation with Achilles, we do successfully introduce Aunt Hillary to the complex, seductive charms of HeX. (shrink)
In the philosophy of Alain Badiou, ethics can only arise in relation to an evental truth procedure that breaks from the economic logic of a situation. Further, because for Badiou there cannot be economic truths per se – rather, economic matters must be understood in their relation to one or more truths in the domain of love, art, science or politics – a Badiouian business ethics would look entirely distinct from any ethics that simply places limits on certain kinds of (...) economic activity. Although Slavoj Žižek, among others, has suggested that this marks an essential weakness in Badiou's economic/political theory, it may actually be the greatest strength of his position. Within a capitalist system, a Badiouian business ethics would then be a question of mobilizing economic resources in order to serve the ongoing construction of a truth procedure. For a business to be considered ethical on Badiou's terms, it must break – and continue to break – from the dominant logic of capitalism and its merely economic pursuit of profit maximization. (shrink)
John Searle’s Chinese Room Argument purports to demonstrate that syntax is not sufficient for semantics, and, hence, because computation cannot yield understanding, the computational theory of mind, which equates the mind to an information processing system based on formal computations, fails. In this paper, we use the CRA, and the debate that emerged from it, to develop a philosophical critique of recent advances in robotics and neuroscience. We describe results from a body of work that contributes to blurring the divide (...) between biological and artificial systems; so-called animats, autonomous robots that are controlled by biological neural tissue and what may be described as remote-controlled rodents, living animals endowed with augmented abilities provided by external controllers. We argue that, even though at first sight, these chimeric systems may seem to escape the CRA, on closer analysis, they do not. We conclude by discussing the role of the body–brain dynamics in the processes that give rise to genuine understanding of the world, in line with recent proposals from enactive cognitive science. (shrink)
Context: Constructivist approaches to cognition have mostly been descriptive, and now face the challenge of specifying the mechanisms that may support the acquisition of knowledge. Departing from cognitivism, however, requires the development of a new functional framework that will support causal, powerful and goal-directed behavior in the context of the interaction between the organism and the environment. Problem: The properties affecting the computational power of this interaction are, however, unclear, and may include partial information from the environment, exploration, distributed processing (...) and aggregation of information, emergence of knowledge and directedness towards relevant information. Method: We posit that one path towards such a framework may be grounded in these properties, supported by dynamical systems. To assess this hypothesis, we describe computational models inspired from swarm intelligence, which we use as a metaphor to explore the practical implications of the properties highlighted. Results: Our results demonstrate that these properties may serve as the basis for complex operations, yielding the elaboration of knowledge and goal-directed behavior. Implications: This work highlights aspects of interaction that we believe ought to be taken into account when characterizing the possible mechanisms underlying cognition. The scope of the models we describe cannot go beyond that of a metaphor, however, and future work, theoretical and experimental, is required for further insight into the functional role of interaction with the environment for the elaboration of complex behavior. Constructivist content: Inspiration for this work stems from the constructivist impetus to account for knowledge acquisition based on interaction. (shrink)
Upshot: Albeit mostly supportive of our work, the commentaries we received highlighted a few points that deserve additional explanation, with regard to the notion of learning in our model, the relationship between our model and the brain, as well as the notion of anticipation. This open discussion emphasizes the need for toy computer models, to fuel theoretical discussion and prevent business-as-usual from getting in the way of new ideas.
Herbert Spencer was regarded by the Victorians as the foremost philosopher of the age, the prophet of evolution at a time when the idea had gripped the popular imagination. Until recently Spencer's posthumous reputation rested almost excusively on his social and political thought, which has itself frequently been subject to serious misrepresentation. But historians of ideas now recognise that an acquaintance with Spencer's thought is essential for the proper understanding of many aspects of Victorian intellectual life, and (...) the present selection is designed to answer this need. It provides a cross-section of Spencer's works from his more popular and approachable essays to a number of the volumes of the Synthetic Philosophy itself. (shrink)