Seth suggests that the transformation of the international system from a system of states to a system of nation-states has had profound consequences for international relations, consequences not fully grasped in international relations theory.
_Europe’s Indians_ forces a rethinking of key assumptions regarding difference—particularly racial difference—and its centrality to contemporary social and political theory. Tracing shifts in European representations of two different colonial spaces, the New World and India, from the late fifteenth century through the late nineteenth, Vanita Seth demonstrates that the classification of humans into racial categories or binaries of self–other is a product of modernity. Part historical, part philosophical, and part a history of science, her account exposes the epistemic conditions (...) that enabled the _thinking_ of difference at distinct historical junctures. Seth’s examination of Renaissance, Classical Age, and nineteenth-century representations of difference reveals radically diverging forms of knowing, reasoning, organizing thought, and authorizing truth. It encompasses stories of monsters, new worlds, and ancient lands; the theories of individual agency expounded by Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau; and the physiological sciences of the nineteenth century. European knowledge, Seth argues, does not reflect a singular history of Reason, but rather multiple traditions of reasoning, of historically bounded and contingent forms of knowledge. _Europe’s Indians_ shows that a history of colonialism and racism must also be an investigation into the historical production of subjectivity, agency, epistemology, and the body. (shrink)
We explore three methods for measuring the conscious status of knowledge using the artificial grammar learning paradigm. We show wagering is no more sensitive to conscious knowledge than simple verbal confidence reports but is affected by risk aversion. When people wager rather than give verbal confidence they are less ready to indicate high confidence. We introduce a “no-loss gambling” method which is insensitive to risk aversion. We show that when people are just as ready to bet on a genuine random (...) process as their own classification decisions, their classifications are still above baseline, indicating knowledge participants are not aware of having. Our results have methodological implications for any study investigating whether people are aware of knowing. (shrink)
The standard behavioral index for human consciousness is the ability to report events with accuracy. While this method is routinely used for scientific and medical applications in humans, it is not easy to generalize to other species. Brain evidence may lend itself more easily to comparative testing. Human consciousness involves widespread, relatively fast low-amplitude interactions in the thalamocortical core of the brain, driven by current tasks and conditions. These features have also been found in other mammals, which suggests that consciousness (...) is a major biological adaptation in mammals. We suggest more than a dozen additional properties of human consciousness that may be used to test comparative predictions. Such homologies are necessarily more remote in non-mammals, which do not share the thalamocortical complex. However, as we learn more we may be able to make “deeper” predictions that apply to some birds, reptiles, large-brained invertebrates, and perhaps other species. (shrink)
Most early studies of consciousness have focused on human subjects. This is understandable, given that humans are capable of reporting accurately the events they experience through language or by way of other kinds of voluntary response. As researchers turn their attention to other animals, “accurate report” methodologies become increasingly difficult to apply. Alternative strategies for amassing evidence for consciousness in non-human species include searching for evolutionary homologies in anatomical substrates and measurement of physiological correlates of conscious states. In addition, creative (...) means must be developed for eliciting behaviors consistent with consciousness. In this paper, we explore whether necessary conditions for consciousness can be established for species as disparate as birds and cephalopods. We conclude that a strong case can be made for avian species and that the case for cephalopods remains open. Nonetheless, a consistent effort should yield new means for interpreting animal behavior. (shrink)
A recent report by Persaud et al. [Persaud, N., McLeod, P. & Cowey, A. . Post-decision wagering objectively measures awareness. Nature Neuroscience 10, 257–261] addresses a fundamental issue in consciousness science: the experimental measurement of conscious content. The authors propose a novel technique, ‘post-decision wagering’, in which subjects place bets on the correctness of decisions or discriminations. In this note, I critique the authors’ claim that their method “measures awareness directly”.
The Bayesian brain hypothesis provides an attractive unifying framework for perception, cognition, and action. We argue that the framework can also usefully integrate interoception, the sense of the internal physiological condition of the body. Our model of entails a new view of emotion as interoceptive inference and may account for a range of psychiatric disorders of selfhood.
Neural Darwinism (ND) is a large scale selectionist theory of brain development and function that has been hypothesized to relate to consciousness. According to ND, consciousness is entailed by reentrant interactions among neuronal populations in the thalamocortical system (the ‘dynamic core’). These interactions, which permit high-order discriminations among possible core states, confer selective advantages on organisms possessing them by linking current perceptual events to a past history of value-dependent learning. Here, we assess the consistency of ND with 16 widely recognized (...) properties of consciousness, both physiological (for example, consciousness is associated with widespread, relatively fast, low amplitude interactions in the thalamocortical system), and phenomenal (for example, consciousness involves the existence of a private flow of events available only to the experiencing subject). While no theory accounts fully for all of these properties at present, we find that ND and its recent extensions fare well. (shrink)
Sandberg et al. show that the Perceptual Awareness Scale scale is sensitive compared to confidence ratings and wagering in detecting accurate perception. They go on to argue that the PAS scale is hence a sensitive measure of conscious perception compared to confidence ratings, a claim disputed here. The fact that some visual content is conscious does not entail that the visual content relevant to making a discrimination is conscious. For example, if one saw a square but was only aware of (...) seeing a flash of something, then one has not consciously seen a square. When PAS and confidence ratings come in conflict, we suggest that it is confidence ratings that more reliably indicate the conscious status of contents allowing discrimination. (shrink)
Overgaard, Timmermans, Sandberg, and Cleeremans ask if the conscious experience of people in implicit learning experiments can be explored more fully than just confidence ratings allow. We show that confidence ratings play a vital role in such experiments, but are indeed incomplete in themselves: in addition, use of structural knowledge attributions and ratings of fringe feelings like familiarity are important in characterizing the phenomenology of the application of implicit knowledge.
This commentary considers Merker's mesodiencephalic proposal in relation to quantitative measures of neural dynamics suggested to be relevant to consciousness. I suggest that even if critical neural mechanisms turn out to be subcortical, the functional utility of consciousness will depend on the rich conscious contents generated by continuous interaction of such mechanisms with a thalamocortical envelope. (Published Online May 1 2007).
The metacognitive stance of Smith et al. risks ignoring sensory consciousness. Although Smith et al. rightly caution against the tendency to preserve the uniqueness of the human mind at all costs, their reasoned stance is undermined by a selective association of consciousness with high-level cognitive operations. Neurobiological evidence may offer a more general, and hence more inclusive, basis for the systematic study of animal consciousness.
There are two observations about the history of Marxism as a theory, and of the movements informed by that theory, which command wide assent. The first is an indisputable empirical observation: socialist movements proved more successful in the relatively �backward� parts of the world than in the heartlands of capitalism, where Marx expected his ideas to take root and his prophecies to be fulfilled. Marxist ideas and Marxist inspired movements once registered important successes in Eastern and Central Europe (distant as (...) that now seems!), but not in Western Europe and North America. They also -- what concerns us in this essay -- occasionally triumphed, and frequently achieved some measure of influence even where they did not triumph, in �Third World� countries. The second observation is that the phenomena of nationhood and of nationalism were never adequately theorized within Marxism; nor, in most cases, were they dealt with satisfactorily in �practical� terms. This theoretical shortcoming was frequently pointed out by non-Marxists. In more recent times Marxists have been at the forefront in pointing to this lacunae or limitation. Nicos Poulantzas urges an imputedly reluctant audience, �we have to recognize that there is no Marxist theory of the nation�. Similarly Tom Nairn adjudges, in portentious tones: �The theory of nationalism represents Marxism's great historical failure.� Both these observations are indisputably true, but a paradox becomes apparent when they are juxtaposed. It would appear that Marxism proved more influential and successful in the former colonial and semi-colonial countries of the �East� than in the bourgeois societies of Western Europe, despite the fact that in the former region the national question, one of Marxism's great theoretical failings, was an issue of pressing political importance. How can one explain this paradox? This essay argues that a major part of the answer lies in the manner in which Lenin developed and reformulated Marx's theory. It suggests that the seeds both of the successful extension of Marxism to the underdeveloped parts of the world, and of its failure to develop a theory of the nation, lay in the reformulation of Marx's thought undertaken with the theory of imperialism. In order fully to understand how Lenin developed Marx's thought, it is first necessary to consider Marx's writings on the non-Western world and what would later come to be known as the 'colonial question'. (shrink)