Through the formation of positive psychology, the study of happiness has moved into the scientific domain. Positive psychology’s assertion is that with the proper adjustments, everyone can achieve happiness. The problem, however, is that “happiness” is never defined, causing scientific testing to construct new parameters for each study, inevitably altering the object being examined. Rather than pursuing amorphous happiness, I argue that the Zhuangzi 莊子 provides a more adequate and responsible process or method for living well. After exploring Aristotle’s position (...) on happiness, I investigate the terminological and methodological issues with the scientific study of happiness. For an alternative, I propose Zhuangzian contentment that reorients individuals toward dynamic existence rather than false notions of control, which the scientific method suggests is possible. (shrink)
In this paper on Karl Barth's conception of truth I shall try to state his position regarding the nature of truth and the criterion of truth, and secondly I shall draw from his position some propositions which I believe exhibit a pattern in his theology which brings it into close relationship to a philosophical tradition.
For one with libertarian sympathies, the official regulation of foods and drugs is presumptively a bad thing. One is most accustomed to seeing the argument in debates about legalizing marijuana and other hedonic drugs. And it remains a very good if by now well-trafficked question, which will be more well-trafficked still by the time this essay ends, why government should be in the business of telling people what sorts of chemical moodenhancers they may take. But as the criminologist James Jacobs (...) has pointed out, to ask this question is to put in play matters far larger and more important than marijuana. What business is it of government to say what medicines may be sold and by whom they may be sold? Why should certain chemical agents be available to willing buyers only with a doctor's scrip, and other agents, such as unproved drugs or devices, forbidden to all, even with medical permission? If libertarians answer these questions impatiently, then admirers of the administrative welfare state will be happy to play rope-a-dope with them, chattering on about the endearing eccentricities of libertarians' assumptions and avoiding the challenge to articulate and defend their own increasingly shabby-looking principles. Those principles are much in need of defense. Food and drug laws are among the most well-established offices of regulatory government. They are complicated, hypertechnical, mysterious, and expensive to administer and maintain. One is entitled to suspect that a number of them are carried on more out of habit and routine than out of any authentic conviction that they are the best way, or among the better ways, to provide for the welfare of citizens. (shrink)
In this book, Daniel Hutto and Erik Myin promote the cause of a radically enactive, embodied approach to cognition that holds that some kinds of minds -- basic minds -- are neither best explained by processes involving the manipulation of ...
An extended argument that cognitive phenomena—perceiving, imagining, remembering—can be best explained in terms of an interface between contentless and content-involving forms of cognition. -/- Evolving Enactivism argues that cognitive phenomena—perceiving, imagining, remembering—can be best explained in terms of an interface between contentless and content-involving forms of cognition. Building on their earlier book Radicalizing Enactivism, which proposes that there can be forms of cognition without content, Daniel Hutto and Erik Myin demonstrate the unique explanatory advantages of recognizing that only some (...) forms of cognition have content while others—the most elementary ones—do not. They offer an account of the mind in duplex terms, proposing a complex vision of mentality in which these basic contentless forms of cognition interact with content-involving ones. -/- Hutto and Myin argue that the most basic forms of cognition do not, contrary to a currently popular account of cognition, involve picking up and processing information that is then used, reused, stored, and represented in the brain. Rather, basic cognition is contentless—fundamentally interactive, dynamic, and relational. In advancing the case for a radically enactive account of cognition, Hutto and Myin propose crucial adjustments to our concept of cognition and offer theoretical support for their revolutionary rethinking, emphasizing its capacity to explain basic minds in naturalistic terms. They demonstrate the explanatory power of the duplex vision of cognition, showing how it offers powerful means for understanding quintessential cognitive phenomena without introducing scientifically intractable mysteries into the mix. (shrink)
Established wisdom in cognitive science holds that the everyday folk psychological abilities of humans -- our capacity to understand intentional actions performed for reasons -- are inherited from our evolutionary forebears. In _Folk Psychological Narratives_, Daniel Hutto challenges this view and argues for the sociocultural basis of this familiar ability. He makes a detailed case for the idea that the way we make sense of intentional actions essentially involves the construction of narratives about particular persons. Moreover he argues that (...) children acquire this practical skill only by being exposed to and engaging in a distinctive kind of narrative practice. Hutto calls this developmental proposal the narrative practice hypothesis. Its core claim is that direct encounters with stories about persons who act for reasons supply children with both the basic structure of folk psychology and the norm-governed possibilities for wielding it in practice. In making a strong case for the as yet underexamined idea that our understanding of reasons may be socioculturally grounded, Hutto not only advances and explicates the claims of the NPH, but he also challenges certain widely held assumptions. In this way, _Folk Psychological Narratives_ both clears conceptual space around the dominant approaches for an alternative and offers a groundbreaking proposal. (shrink)
In this groundbreaking book, Daniel D. Novotny explores one of the most controversial topics of Suarez's philosophy: "beings of reason." Beings of reason are impossible intentional objects, such as blindness and square-circle.
Some thinkers argue that our best scientific theories about the world prove that free will is an illusion. Others disagree. The concept of free will is profoundly important to our self-understanding, our interpersonal relationships, and our moral and legal practices. If it turns out that no one is ever free and morally responsible, what would that mean for society, morality, meaning, and the law? Just Deserts brings together two philosophers – Daniel C. Dennett and Gregg D. Caruso – to (...) debate their respective views on free will, moral responsibility, and legal punishment. In three extended conversations, Dennett and Caruso present their arguments for and against the existence of free will and debate their implications. Dennett argues that the kind of free will required for moral responsibility is compatible with determinism – for him, self-control is key; we are not responsible for becoming responsible, but are responsible for staying responsible, for keeping would-be puppeteers at bay. Caruso takes the opposite view, arguing that who we are and what we do is ultimately the result of factors beyond our control, and because of this we are never morally responsible for our actions in the sense that would make us truly deserving of blame and praise, punishment and reward. These two leading thinkers introduce the concepts central to the debate about free will and moral responsibility by way of an entertaining, rigorous and sometimes heated philosophical dialogue. What emerges is a clear account of the latest thinking on free will, and what is at stake for our moral and legal practices. (shrink)
This chapter proposes a radically enactive account of remembering that casts it as creative, dynamic, and wide-reaching. It paints a picture of remembering that no longer conceives of it as involving passive recollections – always occurring wholly and solely inside heads. Integrating empirical findings from various sources, the chapter puts pressure on familiar cognitivist visions of remembering. Pivotally, it is argued, that we achieve a stronger and more elegant account of remembering by abandoning the widely held assumption that it is (...) rooted in the retrieval of stored information or content in order to represent past events. We demonstrate how a radically enactive account of the roots of remembering can successfully handle classic cases discussed in the extended memory literature while, at same time, accommodating experientially rich forms of episodic memory. (shrink)
The mainstream view in cognitive science is that computation lies at the basis of and explains cognition. Our analysis reveals that there is no compelling evidence or argument for thinking that brains compute. It makes the case for inverting the explanatory order proposed by the computational basis of cognition thesis. We give reasons to reverse the polarity of standard thinking on this topic, and ask how it is possible that computation, natural and artificial, might be based on cognition and not (...) the other way around. (shrink)
We derive a probabilistic account of the vagueness and context-sensitivity of scalar adjectives from a Bayesian approach to communication and interpretation. We describe an iterated-reasoning architecture for pragmatic interpretation and illustrate it with a simple scalar implicature example. We then show how to enrich the apparatus to handle pragmatic reasoning about the values of free variables, explore its predictions about the interpretation of scalar adjectives, and show how this model implements Edgington’s Vagueness: a reader, 1997) account of the sorites paradox, (...) with variations. The Bayesian approach has a number of explanatory virtues: in particular, it does not require any special-purpose machinery for handling vagueness, and it is integrated with a promising new approach to pragmatics and other areas of cognitive science. (shrink)
The core claim of this paper is that mind minding of the sort required for the simplest and most pervasive forms of joint attentional activity is best understood and explained in non-representational, enactivist terms. In what follows I will attempt to convince the reader of its truth in three steps. The first step, section two, clarifies the target explanandum. The second step, section three, is wholly descriptive. It highlights the core features of a Radically Enactivist proposal about elementary mind minding, (...) revealing it to be at least a possible explanans. The final step is to consider the comparative virtues of the contending proposals; section four. The exercise is to decide which of the possible explanations is best. Various evidential appeals and theoretical considerations that might aid us in this choice are reviewed. The conclusion is that the scales would be tipped in favour of the Radical Enactivist option, decisively, if it should turn out that there is (1) no reason to believe that basic forms of mentality are representational (in a semantically contentful way) and (2) if no good theory is likely to explain how they could be so. It is concluded that all that we need for understanding basic forms of intentional (with a ‘t’) mentality and what it takes to attend to basic cases of mind minding. (shrink)
Detection of deception and confirmation of truth telling with conventional polygraphy raised a host of technical and ethical issues. Recently, newer methods of recording electromagnetic signals from the brain show promise in permitting the detection of deception or truth telling. Some are even being promoted as more accurate than conventional polygraphy. While the new technologies raise issues of personal privacy, acceptable forensic application, and other social issues, the focus of this paper is the technical limitations of the developing technology. Those (...) limitations include the measurement validity of the new technologies, which remains largely unknown. Another set of questions pertains to the psychological paradigms used to model or constrain the target behavior. Finally, there is little standardization in the field, and the vulnerability of the techniques to countermeasures is unknown. Premature application of these technologies outside of research settings should be resisted, and the social conversation about the appropriate parameters of its civil, forensic, and security use should begin. (shrink)
Concentrating on their treatment of folk psychology, this paper seeks to establish that, in the form advocated by its leading proponents, the Canberra project is presumptuous in certain key respects. Crucially, it presumes (1) that our everyday practices entail the existence of implicit folk theories; (2) that naturalists ought to be interested primarily in what such theories say; and (3) that the core content of such theories is adequately characterized by establishing what everyone finds intuitively obvious about the topics in (...) question. I argue these presumptions are a bad starting point for any naturalistic project and, more specifically, that in framing things in this way proponents of the Canberra plan have led us unnecessarily into philosophical quagmires. (shrink)
Enactivists seek to revolutionize the new sciences of the mind. In doing so, they promote adopting a thoroughly anti-intellectualist starting point, one that sees mentality as rooted in engaged, embodied activity as opposed to detached forms of thought. In advocating the so-called embodied turn, enactivists touch on recurrent themes of central importance in Wittgenstein's later philosophy. More than this, today's enactivists characterize the nature of minds and how they fundamentally relate to the world in ways that not only echo but (...) fully agree with many of the later Wittgenstein's trademark philosophical remarks on the same topics. (shrink)
There is widespread agreement among large segments of western society that we are living in a period of hard times. At first glance such a belief might seem exceedingly odd. After all, persons in western society find themselves living in a time of unprecedented material abundance. Hunger and disease, evils all too familiar to the members of earlier generations, although far from eradicated from modern life, are plainly on the wane. Persons alive today can look forward to healthier, longer, and (...) more comfortable lives than those of their grand parents. Nevertheless, the feeling that life today is especially difficult is rampant in government, in the media, in popular books, and in academic circles. Western society is perceived in many quarters as wracked by crises of all sorts-of faith, of power, of authority, of social turmoil, of declining quality in workmanship and products, and of a general intellectual malaise afflicting both those on the Left and the Right. A tone of crisis permeates the language of public life. Editorials in major newspapers are full of dire warnings about the dangers of unbridled egoism, avarice and greed, and the risks and horrors of pollution, overpopulation, the arms race, crime, and indulgent lifestyles. (shrink)
What is the true worth of Wittgenstein's contribution to philosophy? Answers to this question are strongly divided. However, most assessments rest on certain popular misreadings of his purpose. This book challenges both "theoretical" and "therapeutic" interpretations. In their place, it seeks to establish that, from beginning to end, Wittgenstein regarded clarification as the true end of philosophy. It argues that, properly understood, his approach exemplifies rather than betrays critical philosophy and provides a viable alternative to other contemporary offerings.
This commentary will seek to clarify certain core features of Thompson’s proposal about the enactive nature of basic mentality, as best it can, and to bring his ideas into direct conversation with accounts of basic cognition of the sort favoured by analytical philosophers of mind and more traditional cognitive scientists – i.e. those who tend to be either suspicious or critical of enactive/embodied approaches (to the extent that they confess to understanding them at all). My proposed way of opening up (...) this sort of dialogue is to concentrate on the close similarities between Thompson’s biologically-based proposal about non-representational forms of basic cognition and what I take to be a reasonable modification to the ambitions of teleosemantic theories of content. Insofar as today’s theories of mental representation are less concerned to understand content in properly semantic terms they are moving ever closer to the sorts of account proposed by enactivists of the Thompsonian stripe – close enough to have meaningful debates about the nature of basic mentality. It is against this backdrop that I put a spotlight on the true promise and value of enactivism, providing some compelling reasons for wanting to go Thompson’s way. (shrink)
This volume re-examines some of the major themes at the intersection of traditional and contemporary metaphysics. The book uses as a point of departure Francisco Suárez’s _Metaphysical Disputations_ published in 1597. Minimalist metaphysics in empiricist/pragmatist clothing have today become mainstream in analytic philosophy. Independently of this development, the progress of scholarship in ancient and medieval philosophy makes clear that traditional forms of metaphysics have affinities with some of the streams in contemporary analytic metaphysics. The book brings together leading contemporary metaphysicians (...) to investigate the viability of a neo-Aristotelian metaphysics. (shrink)
We review the current state of play in the game of naturalizing content and analyse reasons why each of the main proposals, when taken in isolation, is unsatisfactory. Our diagnosis is that if there is to be progress two fundamental changes are necessary. First, the point of the game needs to be reconceived in terms of explaining the natural origins of content. Second, the pivotal assumption that intentionality is always and everywhere contentful must be abandoned. Reviving and updating Haugeland’s baseball (...) analogy in the light of these changes, we propose ways of redirecting the efforts of players on each base of his intentionality All-Star team, enabling them to start functioning effectively as a team. Only then is it likely that they will finally get their innings and maybe, just maybe, even win the game. (shrink)
There has been a long-standing interest in the putative roles that various so-called ‘theory of mind’ abilities might play in enabling us to understand and enjoy narratives. Of late, as our understanding of the complexity and diversity of everyday psychological capacities has become more nuanced and variegated, new possibilities have been articulated: (i) that our capacity for a sophisticated, everyday understanding of actions in terms of reason (our folk psychology) may itself be best characterized as a kind of narrative practice (...) and (ii) that acquiring the capacity for supplying and digesting reasons explana- tions might (at least normally) depend upon having a special training with narratives. This introductory paper to the volume situates the claims of those who support the narrative approach to folk psychology against the backdrop of some traditional and new thinking about intersubjectivity, social cognition and ‘theory of mind’ abilities. Special emphasis is laid on the different reasons for being interested in these claims about narrative practice and folk psychology in light of various empirical and philosophical agendas. (shrink)
The human world is replete with narratives - narratives of our making that are uniquely appreciated by us. Some thinkers have afforded special importance to our capacity to generate such narratives, seeing it as variously enabling us to: exercise our imaginations in unique ways; engender an understanding of actions performed for reasons; and provide a basis for the kind of reflection and evaluation that matters vitally to moral and self development. Perhaps most radically, some hold that narratives are essential for (...) the constitution of human selves. This volume brings together nine original contributions in which the individual authors advance, develop and challenge proposals of these kinds. They critically examine the place and importance of narratives in human lives and consider the underlying capacities that permit us to produce and utilise these special artifacts. All of the papers are written in a non-technical and accessible style. (shrink)
According to Cicero, “all emotions spring from the roots of error: they should not be pruned or clipped here and there, but yanked out” (Cicero 2002: 60). The Stoic enthusiasm for the extirpation of emotion is radical in two respects, both of which can be expressed with the claim that emotional responses are never appropriate. First, the Stoics held that emotions are incompatible with virtue , since the virtuous man will retain his equanimity whatever his fate. Grief is always vicious, (...) both bad and bad for you, even when directed at events commonly considered tragic, such as the loss of one’s child. (shrink)
Folk psychology refers to our everyday practice of making sense of actions, both our own and those of others, in terms of reasons. This volume, which is a special issue of the _Journal of Consciousness Studies_, brings together new work by scholars from a range of disciplines whose aim is to clarify, develop and challenge the claim that folk psychology may be importantly -- perhaps even constitutively -- related to narrative practices. This book is part of a wider project by (...) its editor, Daniel D. Hutto, Professor of Philosophical Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, exploring this central issue of consciousness studies. (shrink)
This is a truly groundbreaking work that examines today’s notions of folk psychology. Bringing together disciplines as various as cognitive science and anthropology, the authors analyze and question key assumptions about the nature, scope and function of folk psychology.
Many psychopathological disorders – clinical depression, borderline personality disorder, schizophrenia and autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) – are commonly classified as disorders of the self. In an intuitive sense this sort of classification is unproblematic. There can be no doubt that such disorders make a difference to one’s ability to form and maintain a coherent sense of oneself in various ways. However, any theoretically rigourous attempt to show that they relate to underlying problems with say, such things as minimal selves or, (...) even, so-called narrative selves – where these latter constructs are invoked to do genuine explanatory work – would require, inter alia, philosophical clarification of what it is that one is precisely committed to in talking of such things (if things they be). It would also require justification for believing in selves of these various kinds. I have elsewhere put on record some of my worries about proposed justifications for believing in minimal selves (Hutto 2008b). But – lest I be accused of favouritism – it should be noted that I also have concerns about the very idea of narrative selves. Several authors have made strong claims about the role of narratives in self constitution (e.g. Dennett 1991, Flanagan 1996, Schechtman 1996). Under standard interpretations these proposals are ambiguous, underdeveloped in key respects, embed obvious tensions or generate puzzles. For these reasons I think we should be cautious of lax talk of selves that are woven from narrative cloth. This is not to say that I agree with Strawson (2004) that adopting a narrative perspective might not be essential for being a self (or at least being a self of a certain sort – even an ethically interesting sort).1 It is rather that I think that before we get around to assessing such claims we need a better understanding of just what we are committed to in talking of selves in general. This is a major philosophical programme, and not one with which I will attempt to engage in this paper – not even in passing.. (shrink)
It is almost universally agreed that the main business of commonsense psychology is that of providing generally reliable predictions and explanations of the actions of others. In line with this, it is also generally assumed that we are normally at theoretical remove from others such that we are always ascribing causally efficacious mental states to them for the purpose of prediction, explanation and control. Building on the work of those who regard our primary intersubjective interactions as a form of 'embodied (...) practice', I defend a secondpersonal approach in this paper. (shrink)
Will our everyday account of ourselves be vindicated by a new science? Or,will our self-understanding remain untouched by such developments? This book argues that beliefs and desires have a legitimate place in the explanation of action. Eliminativist arguments mistakenly focus on the vehicles of content not content itself. This book asks whether a naturalistic theory of content is possible. It is argued that a modest biosemantic theory of intentional, but nonconceptual, content is the naturalist’s best bet. A theory of this (...) kind complements connectionism and recent work on embodied and embedded cognition. But intentional content is not equivalent to propositional content. In order to understand propositional content we must rely on Davidsonian radical interpretation. However, radical interpretation is shown to be at odds with physicalism. But if the best naturalised theory of content we are likely to get from cognitive science is only a theory of intentional content, then a naturalistic explanation of scientific theorising is not possible. It is concluded that cognitive science alone cannot explain the nature of our minds and that eliminativism is intellectually incoherent. (shrink)