The emergence of cave art in Europe about 30,000 years ago is widely believed to be evidence that by this time human beings had developed sophisticated capacities for symbolization and communication. However, comparison of the cave art with the drawings made by a young autistic girl, Nadia, reveals surprising similarities in content and style. Nadia, despite her graphic skills, was mentally defective and had virtually no language. I argue in the light of this comparison that the existence of the cave (...) art cannot be the proof which it is usually assumed to be that the humans of the Upper Palaeolithic had essentially ‘modern’ minds. The article includes peer commentary by Paul Bahn, Paul Bloom, Uta Frith, Ezra Zubrow, Steven Mithen, Ian Tattersall, Chris Knight, Chris McManus and Daniel Dennett , with response by Nicholas Humphrey. [Owing to the number of illustrations, the full text for this file is in excess of 1 Mb. .]. (shrink)
This book is a tour-de-force on how human consciousness may have evolved. From the "phantom pain" experienced by people who have lost their limbs to the uncanny faculty of "blindsight," Humphrey argues that raw sensations are central to all conscious states and that consciousness must have evolved, just like all other mental faculties, over time from our ancestorsodily responses to pain and pleasure. '.
This paper reports an experiment which investigates a possible cognitive antecedent of event-splitting effects (ESEs) experimentally observed by Starmer and Sugden (1993) and Humphrey (1995) â the learning of absolute frequency of event category impacting on the learning of probability of event category â and reveals some evidence that it is responsible for observed ESEs. It is also suggested and empirically substantiated that stripped-down prospect theory will accurately predict ESEs in some decision making tasks, but will not perform well (...) in others. This contention, it is argued, is indicative of fundamental descriptive shortcomings in the economic conception of choice under uncertainty and may entail implications beyond the direct concerns of this paper. (shrink)
Response to commentaries on ‘How to Solve the Mind Body Problem’ by Andy Clark, Daniel Dennett, Naomi Elian, Ralph Ellis, Valerie Gray Hardcastle, Stevan Harnad, Natika Newton, Christian de Quincey, Carol Rovane and Robert van Gulick.
The theory presented here is a near neighbour of Humphrey's theory of sensations as actions. O'Regan & Noë have opened up remarkable new possibilities. But they have missed a trick by not making more of the distinction between sensation and perception; and some of their particular proposals for how we use our eyes to represent visual properties are not only implausible but would, if true, isolate vision from other sensory modalities and do little to explain the phenomenology of conscious (...) experience in general. (shrink)
One day someone will write a book that explains consciousness. The book will put forward a theory that closes the “explanatory gap” between conscious experience and brain activity, by showing how a brain state could in principle amount to a state of consciousness. But it will do more. It will demonstrate just why this particular brain state has to be this particular experience. As Dan Lloyd puts it in his philosophical novel, Radiant Cool: “What we need is a transparent theory. (...) One that, once you get it, you see that anything built like this will have this particular conscious experience.”1. (shrink)
How is consciousness possible? What biological purpose does it serve? And why do we value it so highly? In Soul Dust, the psychologist Nicholas Humphrey, a leading figure in consciousness research, proposes a startling new theory. Consciousness, he argues, is nothing less than a magical-mystery show that we stage for ourselves inside our own heads. This self-made show lights up the world for us and makes us feel special and transcendent. Thus consciousness paves the way for spirituality, and allows (...) us, as human beings, to reap the rewards, and anxieties, of living in what Humphrey calls the "soul niche." Tightly argued, intellectually gripping, and a joy to read, Soul Dust provides answers to the deepest questions. It shows how the problem of consciousness merges with questions that obsess us all--how life should be lived and the fear of death. Resting firmly on neuroscience and evolutionary theory, and drawing a wealth of insights from philosophy and literature, Soul Dust is an uncompromising yet life-affirming work--one that never loses sight of the majesty and wonder of consciousness. (shrink)
The identity of conscious states and brain states must remain a mystery until we find a way of characterising both sides of the equation in terms that have the same ‘dimensions’. In this paper I stress the need for ‘dual currency concepts’ that not only are but can be seen to be as appropriate for talking about, say, the experience of pain as for talking about the corresponding working of the brain. In the light of evolutionary theory I make a (...) radically new proposal for what the common dimension is, centred on the idea of ‘authorship’. (shrink)
_Raritan: A Quarterly Review_ , IX, 68-98, Summer 1989. Reprinted (with footnotes), _Occasional Paper #8_ , Center on Violence and Human Survival, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, The City University of New York, 1991; Daniel Kolak and R. Martin, eds., _Self & Identity: Contemporary Philosophical Issues_ , Macmillan, 1991.
Abstract. A rhesus monkey, Helen, from whom the striate cortex was almost totally removed, was studied intensively over a period of 8 years. During this time she regained an effective, though limited, degree of visually guided behaviour. The evidence suggests that while Helen suffered a permanent loss of `focal vision she retained (initially unexpressed) the capacity for `ambient vision.
It is the ambition of evolutionary psychology to explain how the basic features of human mental life came to be selected because of their contribution to biological survival. Counted among the most basic must be the subjective qualities of conscious sensory experience: the felt redness we experience on looking at a ripe tomato, the felt saltiness on tasting an anchovy, the felt pain on being pricked by a thorn. But, as many theorists acknowledge, with these qualia, the ambition of evolutionary (...) psychology may have met its match. Everyone agrees that a trait can only contribute to an organism's biological survival in so far as it operates in the public domain. Yet almost everyone also agrees that the subjective quality of sensory experience is (at least for all practical purposes) private and without external influence. Then, maybe we must either concede that the subjective quality of sensations cannot after all have been determined by selection (even if this is theoretically depressing) or else demonstrate that the quality of sensations is not as private as it seems to be (even if this is intuitively unconvincing). No. I believe neither of these solutions to the puzzle is in fact the right one. I argue instead that the truth is that the quality of sensations has indeed been shaped by selection in the past, despite the fact that it is today effectively private. And this situation has come about as a result of a remarkable evolutionary progression, whereby the primitive activity of sensing slowly became "privatized" - that is to say, removed from the domain of overt public behavior and transformed into a mental activity that is now, in humans, largely if not exclusively internal to the subject's mind. (shrink)
Human beings are not only the most sociable animals on Earth, but also the only animals that have to ponder the separateness that comes with having a conscious self. The philosophical problem of ‘other minds’ nags away at people’s sense of who—and why—they are. But the privacy of consciousness has an evolutionary history—and maybe even an evolutionary function. While recognizing the importance to humans of mind-reading and psychic transparency, we should consider the consequences and possible beneﬁts of being—ultimately—psychically opaque.
A common complaint against Kripke’s Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language is that whereas the aim of “the real” Wittgenstein’s private language argument is to establish the impossibility of a necessarily private language, the communitarian account of meaning proposed by Kripke’s Wittgenstein (KW), if successful, would establish the impossibility of a contingently private language. I show that this common complaint is based on a failure of Kripke’s critics (a failure that is justified, in part, by Kripke’s text) to recognize and (...) understand his distinction between a “physically isolated” individual (PII) and an individual “considered in isolation” (ICl) . It is only an ICI for whom rule following and language are rendered impossible by KW. l then show that an lel speaks a necessarily private language. Thus, KW’s private language argument gives us, at best, the same story about the impossibility of private language as pre-Kripke accounts of Wittgenstein’s private language argument. (shrink)
William Paley in his famous statement in 1800 of the Argument from Design, imagined that he found a watch lying on a heath and set to wondering how it came to be there. “The inference is inevitable, that the watch must have had a maker: that there must have existed, at some time, and at some place or other, an artificer or artificers who formed it for the purpose which.
And Jesus said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. And they that heard it said, Who then can be saved? And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God... There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or (...) children, for the kingdom of God's sake, Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting. (shrink)
The McCollough effect, an orientation-contingent color aftereffect, has been known for over 30 years and, like other aftereffects, has been taken as a means of probing the brain's operations psychophysically. In this paper, we review psychophysical, neuropsychological, and neuroimaging studies of the McCollough effect. Much of the evidence suggests that the McCollough effect depends on neural mechanisms that are located early in the cortical visual pathways, probably in V1. We also review evidence showing that the aftereffect can be induced without (...) conscious perception of the induction patterns. Based on these two lines of evidence, it is argued that our conscious visual experience of the world arises in the cortical visual system beyond V1. (shrink)
Oddity One : Kripke claims that Wittgenstein has invented "a new form of scepticism", one which inclines Kripke "to regard it as the most radical and original sceptical problem that philosophy has seen to date, one that only a highly unusual cast of mind could have produced" (K, p. 60). However, Kripke also claims that there are analogies (and sometimes the analogies look very much like identities) between Wittgenstein's sceptical argument and the work of at least three and maybe four (...) other philosophers, viz., Quine, Goodman, Hume and Berkeley. Strange stuff indeed. The originality of Wittgenstein's work is especially difficult to see after Kripke claims that Wittgenstein presents a problem concerning the nexus between past . . . 'meanings' and present practice" (K, p. 62), and says that Hume is said to have questioned "the causal nexus whereby a past event necessitates a future one, and the inductive inferential nexus from the past to the future." (K, p. 62). Whither the originality? And the connection with Goodman's work with 'grue' is even closer than that between Kripke's Wittgenstein and Hume. Given that Kripke had read Goodman before "discovering" the rule-following paradox in Wittgenstein, one ought to be sceptical of Kripke's claim that Wittgenstein has invented a new form of scepticism. It would be much more accurate to say that Kripke has strapped Wittgenstein with a hybrid scepticism drawn from Hume and Goodman. (shrink)
I said that the cure itself is a certain leaf, but in addition to the drug there is a certain charm, which if someone chants when he makes use of it, the medicine altogether restores him to health, but without the charm there is no profit from the leaf.
What unites the many selves that constitute the human mind? How is the self-binding problem solved? I argue that separate selves come to belong together as one Self as a result of their dynamic participation in creating a single life, rather as the members of an orchestra come to belong together as a result of their jointly creating a single work of music.
Dreaming can provide a marvelous opportunity for the “playful” exploration of dramatic events. But the chance to learn to deal with danger is only a small part of it. More important is the chance to discover what it is like to be the subject of strange but humanly significant mental states. [Revonsuo].
I am looking at my baby son, as he thrashes around in his crib, two arms flailing, hands grasping randomly, legs kicking the air, head and eyes turning this way and that, a smile followed by a grimace crossing his face. . . And I’m wondering: what is it like to be him? What is he feeling now? What kind of experience is he having of himself?
_Private Language_ is that it almost universally sees KW as offering, in his sceptical solution, an account of meaning attributions (i.e., statements of the form, "X means such-and-so by 's'"; hereafter, MAs) which takes their legitimate attribution to be a function of something other than facts or truth conditions. KW is almost universally read as having rejected any account of meaning attributions which takes them to be stating facts or corresponding to facts. In a word, KW is understood as offering (...) a nonfactualist account of MAs. And given that KW's sceptical challenge to the possibility of meaning rests on his negative assertions that there are no meaning facts, and that KW offers a sceptical solution to the sceptic's claim that meaning is impossible, i.e., a solution that by definition "begins . . . by conceding that the sceptic's negative assertions are unanswerable" (K, p. 66), it seems impossible that there would be any doubts about the accuracy of the "almost universal" reading of KW as a nonfactualist. (shrink)
The hard problem of consciousness is to explain the experience of qualia. But everything gets easier once we realise that what has to be explained is not how qualia can exist as objective entities but rather why the conscious subject should believe that they exist. This essay lays out a programme for doing this. It makes radical proposals as to how the “qualia illusion” is created, and why sustaining this illusion is biologically adaptive.
Human beings begin life as quadrupeds, crawling on all fours, but none has ever been known to retain this gait and develop it into a proficient replacement for adult bipedality. We report the case of a family in which five siblings, who suffer from a rare form of cerebellar ataxia, are still quadrupeds as adults - walking and running on their feet and wrists. We describe the remarkable features of this gait, discuss how it has developed in the members of (...) this family, and consider whether a similar gait may have been used by human ancestors. (shrink)
Skoyles’s case against human brain size being related to IQ is strong; but his case in favor of its being related to expertise is weak. I propose that the explanation for the evolutionary expansion of the human brain in fact lies far away, in the need to have a brain that could continue to function into old age.
‘The shamanic context of cave art is attested by a number of features’, Michael Winkelman writes (p.6); and, scarcely pausing for breath, he proceeds to reel off as if they were matters of established fact a list of co njectures about the authorship and meaning of ice-age cave paintings. We are t o conclude, without question apparently, that ‘cave art images represent shamanic activities and altered states of consciousness, and the subterranean rock art sites were used for shamanic vision questing’ (...) (p. 7). Well, may be. The shaman hypothesis is certainly an intriguing one; and David Lewis-Williams, in particular, has made a plausible case for it. Yet my own first reaction is: not so fast. For one thing, I myself, in the pages of this Journal a few years ago, presented evidence which – to begin with, anyway – suggests that any such interpretation has to be complet ely mistaken. (shrink)
When people are unwell, they will often begin to recover just as soon as they receive medical attention., but before the treatment could have any direct effect and even when the treatment is a sham. Mere belief that recovery is coming can by itself bring the recovery about.
visually or directly by hand 3,3•4, and the `weighing' of half-inch "The apparent weight of colours . Pictures are often said to circles of coloured paper at either end of a simulated balance have a centre of gravity, perhaps determined by the way the..