Our paper serves as an introduction to a budding field: the philosophy of mind-wandering. We begin with a philosophical critique of the standard psychological definitions of mind-wandering as task-unrelated or stimulus-independent. Although these definitions have helped bring mind-wandering research onto centre stage in psychology and cognitive neuroscience, they have substantial limitations that researchers must overcome to move forward. Specifically, the standard definitions do not account for (i) the dynamics of mind wandering, (ii) task-unrelated thought that does not qualify as mind-wandering, (...) and (iii) the ways that mind-wandering can be task-related. We then survey three philosophical accounts that improve upon the current psychological definitions. We first present our account of mind-wandering as “unguided thinking”. Next we review Thomas Metzinger’s view that mind-wandering can be defined as thought lacking meta-awareness and cognitive agency, as well as Peter Carruthers’s and Fabian Dorsch’s definitions of mind-wandering as disunified thinking. We argue that these latter views are inadequate, and we show that our definition of mind-wandering as unguided thinking is not only conceptually and phenomenologically precise but also can be operationalized in a principled way for empirical research. (shrink)
We introduce a new metric for interdisciplinarity, based on co-author publication history. A published article that has co-authors with quite different publication histories can be deemed relatively “interdisciplinary,” in that the article reflects a convergence of previous research in distinct sets of publication outlets. In recent work, we have shown that this interdisciplinarity metric can predict citations. Here, we show that the journal Cognitive Science tends to contain collaborations that are relatively high on this interdisciplinarity metric, at about the 80th (...) percentile of all journals across both social and natural sciences. Following on Goldstone and Leydesdorff, we describe how scientometric tools provide a valuable means of assessing the role of cognitive science in broader scientific work, and also as a tool to investigate teamwork and distributed cognition. We describe how data-driven metrics of this kind may facilitate this exploration without relying upon rapidly changing discipline and topic keywords associated with publications. (shrink)
We argue that the Rawlsian social contract argument advanced for stakeholder theory by R. Edward Freeman, writing alone and with William M. Evan, fails in three main ways. First, it is true to Rawls in neither form, nor purpose, nor the level of knowledge (or ignorance) required to motivate the veil of ignorance. Second, it fails to tailor the veil of ignorance to the fairness conditions that are required to solve the moral problem that Freeman and Evan set (...) out to solve (whereas Rawls’s own use of the device surely tailors the veil of ignorance to the problem of designing a just social order). Third, the argument, considered apart from its claimed Rawlsian pedigree, fails to bolster the stakeholder theory because it fails to demonstrate the rationality of adopting the institutional rules that Freeman and Evan favor. (shrink)
I have learned a lot from Evan Thompson’s book–his scholarship is formidable, and his taste for relatively overlooked thinkers is admirable–but I keep stumbling over the strain induced by his self-assigned task of demonstrating that his heroes–Varela and Maturana, Merleau-Ponty and (now) Husserl, Oyama and Moss and others–have shattered the comfortable assumptions of orthodoxy, and outlined radical new approaches to the puzzles of life and mind. The irony is that Thompson is such a clear and conscientious expositor that he (...) makes it much easier for me to see that the ideas he expounds, while often truly excellent, are not really all that revolutionary, but, at best, valuable correctives to the sorts of oversimplifications that tend to get turned into mantras by sheer repetition, in the textbooks and popular accounts of these topics in the media. (shrink)
Thompson, Evan. Mind in Life: Biology, Phenomenology, and the Sciences of Mind Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s10743-009-9057-7 Authors Dan Zahavi, University of Copenhagen Center for Subjectivity Research Njalsgade 140-142 2300 Copenhagen Denmark Journal Husserl Studies Online ISSN 1572-8501 Print ISSN 0167-9848 Journal Volume Volume 25 Journal Issue Volume 25, Number 2.
We argue that human rights are best conceived as norms arising from a fiduciary relationship that exists between states and the citizens and noncitizens subject to their power. These norms draw on a Kantian conception of moral personhood, protecting agents from instrumentalization and domination. They do not, however, exist in the abstract as timeless natural rights. Instead, they are correlates of the state's fiduciary duty to provide equal security under the rule of law, a duty that flows from the state's (...) institutional assumption of irresistible sovereign powers. (shrink)
Evan Thompson has written a marvelous book. Waking, Dreaming, Being blends intellectual autobiography, phenomenology, cognitive science, studies in Buddhist and Vedānta philosophy, and creative metaphilosophy in an exploration of what it is to be a person, of the nature of consciousness, and of the relation of contemplative to scientific method in the understanding of human life. I have learned a great deal from it, and the community of philosophers and cognitive scientists will be reading and discussing it for some (...) time. But I have come to criticize Thompson, not to praise him. Here I raise a few issues regarding Thompson’s treatment of the self and the connections between his own account and the Madhyamaka and... (shrink)
Evan’s book is in many ways an exercise in remapping. The first is suggested by the book’s title. Waking, Dreaming, Being challenges existing ways of mapping the conceptual relationship between conscious states across the sleep-wake cycle. The idea that waking and dreaming are not discrete states but can interpenetrate each other—that, to use Evan’s words, they “aren’t opposed but flow into and out of [one] an other” —is a central theme running through the book. If Evan is (...) correct, then the taxonomy of conscious states that underlies large parts of contemporary philosophy of mind and cognitive neuroscience has to be redrawn. As Evan tells us in the introduction, the book’s organizing principle... (shrink)
In Part I of this paper, I took up a challenge posed by Alston , Wainwright , Yandell , and other theists who hold the rather natural view that mystical experiences provide perceptual contact with God, roughly on a par with the access sense experience affords to the natural world. These theists recognize, at the same time, that the plausibility of this view would be significantly compromised by the possibility of scientifically explaining mystical experiences – especially if a scientific explanation (...) were incompatible with, ruled out, or made unlikely the supposition that God has anything special to do with the occurrences of these experiences. (shrink)
In Sovereignty’s Promise: The State as Fiduciary, Evan Fox-Decent uses the idea of fiduciary relationships to explain the legitimate exercise of governmental authority. He makes use of the idea of the state as a fiduciary for the people to ground an account of the duty to obey the law, to explain the proper relationships between colonial (or “settler”) societies and aboriginal populations, the role of agency discretion and judicial review in the administrative state, the rule of law, the relationship (...) between law and morality, and the foundations of human rights. While I was not convinced by several of the arguments, the book does have many important virtues. In particular, it provides a clear discussion of the idea of fiduciary relationships and duties that is useful for, and should be largely accessible to, non-lawyers. And, though I do not think that Fox-Decent has established all that he hoped to in the book, he does a good job of showing how fiduciary relationships are relevant to the above issues and worth considering. (shrink)
Evan Fales has recently argued that, although I provide the most promising approach for those concerned to defend belief in divine intervention, I nevertheless fail to show that such belief can be rational. I argue that Fales’ objections are unsuccessful.
Waking, Dreaming, Being is an unusual book in many ways. I mention two. First, in some ways it is a memoir. Few philosophers started as a child doing the sort of philosophy that they did as a grown-up. Evan did. Evan grew up in the intellectually fertile world of the Lindisfarne Association, the collaborative of scientists, artists, ecologists, and contemplatives founded by his father, William Irwin Thompson, a polymath, whom I had the pleasure of meeting in 2004 at (...) the Crestone Zen Monastery in Colorado.Evan’s dad taught him Raja Yoga as a boy—when he was seven!—and read him Upanishadic children’s stories. Lindisfarne was the antithesis of a C. P. Snow–style Two Cultures environment where the sciences and... (shrink)
In a previous article, I argue that on the assumption that God exercises libertarian agency, a primary causal divine miracle could, in principle, leave a scientifically detectable gap in the natural world. In a subsequent publication, Evan Fales offered a critique of my argument and this article is my rejoinder. I justify my employment of Divine libertarian agency and respond to Fales’s two, closely-related questions: How much energy could one add to a room by making a lot of decisions? (...) Would the increase in energy be measurable? (shrink)
Evan Fales has argued that divine causation is not possible. His central argument involves an analysis of causation that requires that there has to be a mapping feature to guarantee that the particular effect follows the particular cause. He suggests that being related in space and time will provide the means to map the right effects onto their causes. In this paper, I argue that the spatial relation between cause and effect is not necessary to the causal relation. In (...) cases of volition, it appears that the mapping of particular effects onto volitions is achieved by the intentional content of the volition. Therefore, spatial relations are not necessary to causation and the impossibility of divine causation has not been shown. (shrink)
The papers gathered here were first presented at an “Author Meets Critics” invited session that I organized for the Pacific Division of the American Philosophical Association meeting, held in Vancouver, April 1–5, 2015, on Evan Thompson’s book Waking, Dreaming, Being: Self and Consciousness in Neuroscience, Meditation, and Philosophy. Thompson opened the session with a précis of his book, which was followed by critical commentaries from John Dunne, Owen Flanagan, and Jay Garfield; Jennifer Windt was also an invited contributor to (...) this symposium although she was not able to attend the session. Together with Thompson’s reply, these papers are presented here in their final, revised format.Thompson’s... (shrink)
Evan Thompson’s Waking, Dreaming, Being is an outstanding work that richly deserves the widespread praise that it is receiving. The book exhibits exquisite balance between various poles: science and philosophy, “East” and “West,” the accessible and the specialized, the physical and the emergent, and so on. It is also a remarkably readable book, and since academic literature is littered with many unreadable must-read tomes, I am grateful for the change of pace. In short, those who have not yet read (...) Waking, Dreaming, Being should be heartily encouraged to do so. They will find the task a pleasant and edifying one.Much more could be said in praise of Waking, Dreaming, Being, but the task here is to offer some... (shrink)
Several writers have argued for the implausibility of there being naturalistic explanations of mystical experience. These writers recognize that the evidential significance of mystical experiences for theism depends upon whether explanations that exclude supernatural agency can be discounted; but they seem unaware of some of the best scientific work done in this area. Part I of the present paper introduces the theory of I. M. Lewis, an anthropologist, and tests it against the case of St Teresa. I use Teresa because (...) of her prominence, and because we have considerable biographical data for her. I conclude that Lewis's approach, suitably supplemented, is strikingly successful in explaining this case. (shrink)
Summary: wenty years ago, philosopher Evan Thompson's aim is to "bring the experimental sciences of life and mind into a closer and more harmonious relationship with phenomenological investigations of experience and subjectivity." He wants to "make headway on one of the outstanding philosophical and scientific problems of our time -- the so-called explanatory gap between consciousness and nature. Exactly how are consciousness and subjective experience related to the brain and body?"... In conclusion, this is a rich, complex, and valuable (...) book in the constructivist tradition of philosophy and science -- and a book deserving of extended review and discussion. (shrink)
Evan’s Fales’s idiosyncratic interpretation of the origin of the empty tomb narrative in the gospels of the New Testament is shown to be flawed in taking pagan mythology rather than Palestinian Judaism as the proper interpretive context for the life of Jesus.
This article is a response to Evan Fales’s critique of Francis Beckwith’s chapter ’Philosophia Christi’ Series 2, 3.1 2001) that appeared in the 1997 book, ’In Defense of Miracles’ (InterVarsity Press, 1997). Beckwith argues that Fales seems to misunderstand his argument. In his reply, Beckwith clarifies his original case and then moves on and addresses Fales’s argument that if miracles regularly occur, the reason for believing in miracles would be undermined; they are contrary to the regular course of nature. (...) Beckwith argues that Fales confuses the regularity of agent causation with the regularity of scientific laws. (shrink)
In his critical commentary on my earlier essay, "The Evidential Value of Miracles," Evan Fales explores a series of general methodological issues in sympathy with David Hume and sets forth three arguments against the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which it was not the purpose of my essay to defend but which I nevertheless affirmed. In response, I first address each of Fales’s critical asides and interpretive comments, and then respond to his claim that there are three (...) independently decisive arguments against the historicity of the resurrection. Our exchange is part of a larger book symposium on miracles. (shrink)
This is a fine book by an extraordinary author whose literary followers have awaited a definitive statement of his views on consciousness since his participation in the important book on biological autopoiesis, The Embodied Mind (Varela, Thompson, & Rosch, 1991) and his recent neurophenomenology of biological systems, Mind in Life (2007). In the latter book, Thompson demonstrated the continuity of life and mind, whereas in this book he uses neurophenomenology as well as erudite renditions of Buddhist philosophy and a good (...) dash of personal experience to argue for the reality of altered states of consciousness, but also that these states are not distinct from the physical systems that subtend them. He must have touched a nerve, for Waking, Dreaming, Being continues to be read and widely discussed by the literate public. (shrink)
At least three books struggle to emerge from this volume. One book, at the level of popular science, leads us through the development of physics, from Newton's laws to Bell's inequalities, in order to argue for the relevance of consciousness to the understanding of quantum theory. This is followed by a sketch of an interpretation of quantum mechanics. Interwoven with both is a memoir of Walker's teenage girlfriend, who died of Hodgkin's disease nearly fifty years ago. The theme which holds (...) the volume together is Walker's insistence on the importance of looking beyond materialism. (shrink)