'By their fruits ye shall know them, not by their roots.'The Varieties of Religious Experience is William James's classic survey of religious belief in its most personal, and often its most heterodox, aspects. Asking questions such as how we define evil to ourselves, the difference between a healthy and a divided mind, the value of saintly behaviour, and what animates and characterizes the mental landscape of sudden conversion, James's masterpiece stands at a unique moment in the relationship between belief (...) and culture. Faith in institutional religion and dogmatic theology was fading away, and the search for an authentic religion rooted in personality and subjectivity was a project conducted as an urgent necessity. With psychological insight, philosophical rigour, and a determination not to jump to the conclusion that in tracing religion's mental causes we necessarily diminish its truth or value, in the Varieties James wrote a truly foundational text for modern belief.Matthew Bradley's wide-ranging new edition examines the ideas that continue to fuel modern debates on atheism and faith. (shrink)
Consciousness and intentionality are perhaps the two central phenomena in the philosophy of mind. Human beings are conscious beings: there is something it is like to be us. Human beings are intentional beings: we represent what is going on in the world.Correspondingly, our specific mental states, such as perceptions and thoughts, very often have a phenomenal character: there is something it is like to be in them. And these mental states very often have intentional content: they serve to represent the (...) world. On the face of it, consciousness and intentionality are intimately connected. Our most important conscious mental states are intentional states: conscious experiences often inform us about the state of the world. And our most important intentional mental states are conscious states: there is often something it is like to represent the external world. It is natural to think that a satisfactory account of consciousness must respect its intentional structure, and that a satisfactory account of intentionality must respect its phenomenological character.With this in mind, it is surprising that in the last few decades, the philosophical study of consciousness and intentionality has often proceeded in two independent streams. This wasnot always the case. In the work of philosophers from Descartes and Locke to Brentano and Husserl, consciousness and intentionality were typically analyzed in a single package. But in the second half of the twentieth century, the dominant tendency was to concentrate on onetopic or the other, and to offer quite separate analyses of the two. On this approach, the connections between consciousness and intentionality receded into the background.In the last few years, this has begun to change. The interface between consciousness and intentionality has received increasing attention on a number of fronts. This attention has focused on such topics as the representational content of perceptual experience, the higherorder representation of conscious states, and the phenomenology of thinking. Two distinct philosophical groups have begun to emerge. One group focuses on ways in which consciousness might be grounded in intentionality. The other group focuses on ways in which intentionality might be grounded in consciousness. (shrink)
A common objection to sense-datum theories of perception is that they cannot give an adequate account of the fact that introspection indicates that our sensory experiences are directed on, or are about, the mind-independent entities in the world around us, that our sense experience is transparent to the world. In this paper I point out that the main force of this claim is to point out an explanatory challenge to sense-datum theories.
This chapter offers a overview of Shadworth Hodgson's account of experience as fundamentally temporal, an account that was deeply influential on thinkers such as William James and which prefigures the phenomenology of Husserl in many ways. I highlight eight key features that are characteristic of Hodgson's account, and how they hang together to provide a coherent overall picture of experience and knowledge. Hodgson's account is then compared to Husserl's, and I argue that Hodgson's account offers a better target (...) for projects such as neurophenomenology than does Husserl's. Hodgson's account is historically important as a culmination of a certain trajectory of British Empiricist thought. It offers a substantive alternative for how to think about temporality and experience in contemporary discussions, not just of the present moment but of the relationship between experience and knowledge more broadly. (shrink)
Some have claimed that people with very different beliefs literally see the world differently. Thus Thomas Kuhn: ‘what a man sees depends both upon what he looks at and also upon what his previous visual—conceptual experience has taught him to see’ (Kuhn 1970, p. ll3). This view — call it ‘Perceptual Relativism’ — entails that a scientist and a child may look at a cathode ray tube and, in a sense, the first will see it while the second won’t. (...) The claim is not, of course, that the child’s experience is ‘empty’; but that, unlike the scientist, it does not see the tube as a cathode ray tube. One way of supporting this claim is to say that one cannot see something as an F unless one has the concept F. Since the child plainly lacks the concept of a cathode ray tube, it cannot see it as a cathode ray tube. Although Perceptual Relativism is hard to believe, this supporting suggestion is not so implausible. After all, when we see (and more generally, perceive) the world, the world is presented to us in a particular way; so how can we see it as being that way unless we have some idea or conception of the way it is presented? We need not be committed to a representative theory of perception to think that perceptions in some sense represent the world. We can express this by saying that perceptions have content. Now it is a commonplace that the contents of beliefs and the other propositional attitudes involve concepts. The belief that this thing is a cathode ray tube involves, in some sense, the concept cathode ray tube. So the line of thought behind Perceptual Relativism may be expressed thus: seeing an F as an F is a state with content. (shrink)
Wittgenstein’s thinking on music is intimately linked to core issues in his work on the philosophy of psychology. I argue that inasmuch musical experience exemplifies the kind of grammatical complexity that is indigenous to aspect perception and, in general, to concepts that are based on physiognomy, it is rendered by Wittgenstein as a form of knowledge, namely, knowledge of mankind.
Do philosophers and ordinary people conceive of subjective experience in the same way? In this article, we argue that they do not and that the philosophical concept of phenomenal consciousness does not coincide with the folk conception. We first offer experimental support for the hypothesis that philosophers and ordinary people conceive of subjective experience in markedly different ways. We then explore experimentally the folk conception, proposing that for the folk, subjective experience is closely linked to valence. We (...) conclude by considering the implications of our findings for a central issue in the philosophy of mind, the hard problem of consciousness. (shrink)
In this article, I defend the view that we can acquire factual knowledge – that is, contingent propositional knowledge about certain (perceivable) aspects of reality – on the basis of imaginative experience. More specifically, I argue that, under suitable circumstances, imaginative experiences can rationally determine the propositional content of knowledge-constituting beliefs – though not their attitude of belief – in roughly the same way as perceptual experiences do in the case of perceptual knowledge. I also highlight some philosophical consequences (...) of this conclusion, especially for the issue of whether imagination can help us to learn something from fictions. (shrink)
In this paper, I reconstruct Robert Nozick's experience machine objection to hedonism about well-being. I then explain and briefly discuss the most important recent criticisms that have been made of it. Finally, I question the conventional wisdom that the experience machine, while it neatly disposes of hedonism, poses no problem for desire-based theories of well-being.
Representationalism is a thesis about the phenomenal character of experiences, about their immediate subjective ‘feel’.1 At a minimum, the thesis is one of supervenience: necessarily, experiences that are alike in their representational contents are alike in their phenomenal character. So understood, the thesis is silent on the nature of phenomenal character. Strong or pure representationalism goes further. It aims to tell us what phenomenal character is. According to the theory developed in Tye 1995, phenomenal character is one and the same (...) as representational content that meets certain further conditions. One very important motivation for this theory is the so-called ? transparency of experience.? The purpose of this paper is to elucidate the appeal to transparency more carefully than has been done hithertofore, to make some remarks about the introspective awareness of experience in light of this appeal, and to consider one problem case for transparency at some length, that of blurry vision. Along the way, I shall also address some of the remarks Stephen Leeds makes in his essay on transparency. (shrink)
This article presents an interview method which enables us to bring a person, who may not even have been trained, to become aware of his or her subjective experience, and describe it with great precision. It is focused on the difficulties of becoming aware of one’s subjective experience and describing it, and on the processes used by this interview technique to overcome each of these difficulties. The article ends with a discussion of the criteria governing the validity of (...) the descriptions obtained, and then with a brief review of the functions of these descriptions. (shrink)
I don't know of any other book like it."--Wayne Proudfoot, Columbia University "This is a terrific book. -/- The essence of religion was once widely thought to be a unique form of experience that could not be explained in neurological, psychological, or sociological terms. In recent decades scholars have questioned the privileging of the idea of religious experience in the study of religion, an approach that effectively isolated the study of religion from the social and natural sciences. Religious (...)Experience Reconsidered lays out a framework for research into religious phenomena that reclaims experience as a central concept while bridging the divide between religious studies and the sciences.Ann Taves shifts the focus from "religious experience," conceived as a fixed and stable thing, to an examination of the processes by which people attribute meaning to their experiences. She proposes a new approach that unites the study of religion with fields as diverse as neuroscience, anthropology, sociology, and psychology to better understand how these processes are incorporated into the broader cultural formations we think of as religious or spiritual. Taves addresses a series of key questions: how can we set up studies without obscuring contestations over meaning and value? What is the relationship between experience and consciousness? How can research into consciousness help us access and interpret the experiences of others? Why do people individually or collectively explain their experiences in religious terms? How can we set up studies that allow us to compare experiences across times and cultures?Religious Experience Reconsidered demonstrates how methods from the sciences can be combined with those from the humanities to advance a naturalistic understanding of the experiences that people deem religious. (shrink)
I assess a number of connected ideas about temporal experience that are introspectively plausible, but which I believe can be argued to be incorrect. These include the idea that temporal experiences are extended experiential processes, that they have an internal structure that in some way mirrors the structure of the apparent events they present, and the idea that time in experience is in some way represented by time itself. I explain how these ideas can be developed into more (...) sharply defined views, and then argue that these views are inconsistent with certain empirical facts about how time is represented in the brain. These facts instead support a kind of atomic view, on which temporal experiences are temporally unstructured atoms. (shrink)
How should we characterize the functional role of conscious visual experience? In particular, how do the conscious contents of visual experience guide, bear upon, or otherwise inform our ongoing motor activities? According to an intuitive and (I shall argue) philosophically influential conception, the links are often quite direct. The contents of conscious visual experience, according to this conception, are typically active in the control and guidance of our fine-tuned, real-time engagements with the surrounding three-dimensional world. But this (...) idea (which I shall call the Assumption of Experience-Based Control) is hostage to empirical fortune. It is a hostage, moreover, whose safety is in serious doubt. Thus Milner and Goodale (1995) argue for a deep and abiding dissociation between the contents of conscious seeing, on the one hand, and the resources used for the on-line guidance of visuo-motor action, on the other. This ‘dual visual systems’ hypothesis, which finds many echoes in various other bodies of cognitive scientific research, poses a prima facie challenge to the Assumption of Experience-Based Control. More importantly, it provides (I shall argue) fuel for an alternative and philosophically suggestive account of the functional role of conscious visual experience. (shrink)
Suppose that our life choices result in unpredictable experiences, as L.A. Paul has recently argued. What does this mean for the possibility of rational prudential choice? Not as much as Paul thinks. First, what’s valuable about experience is its broadly hedonic quality, and empirical studies suggest we tend to significantly overestimate the impact of our choices in this respect. Second, contrary to what Paul suggests, the value of finding out what an outcome is like for us does not suffice (...) to rationalize life choices, because much more important values are at stake. Third, because these other prudential goods, such as achievement, personal relationships, and meaningfulness, are typically more important than the quality of our experience (which is in any case unlikely to be bad when we achieve non- experiential goods), life choices should be made on what I call a story- regarding rather than experience-regarding basis. (shrink)
Ineffability—that which cannot be explained in words—lies at the heart of the Christian mystical tradition. It has also been part of every discussion of religious experience since the early twentieth century. Despite this centrality, ineffability is a concept that has largely been ignored by philosophers of religion. In this book, Bennett-Hunter builds on the recent work of David E. Cooper, who argues that the meaning of life can only be understood in terms of an ineffable source on which life (...) depends, and engages with the work of continental philosophers, such as Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty and Karl Jaspers. This is the first book to explore the concept of ineffability within contemporary philosophy of religion and provides a starting point for further scholarly debate. It will be of interest to scholars of philosophy of religion, theology, existentialism and phenomenology. -/- 'Bennett Hunter’s book is a timely contribution to the growing theological and philosophical literature on mystery and ineffability. Written in a lucid and elegant style, the book makes a convincing case for the ineffability of religious experience and explores its relationship to a sense that our lives are answerable to such experience.' — David E. Cooper. -/- 'Philosophers have long concentrated on linguistic forms in a way that has isolated language from the rest of life, and this isolation has increasingly obscured for them the vast range of things that cannot be spoken. Bennett-Hunter is not the first philosopher to try and map this distracted field, but he is remarkable in the width and sympathy of his approach to the highly various thinkers whom he invokes to illuminate it.' — Mary Midgley. (shrink)
We can learn much about perceptual experience by thinking about how it can mislead us. In this paper, I explore whether, and how, olfactory experience can mislead. I argue that, in the case of olfactory experience, the traditional distinction between illusion and hallucination does not apply. Integral to the traditional distinction is a notion of ‘object-failure’—the failure of an experience to present objects accurately. I argue that there are no such presented objects in olfactory experience. (...) As a result, olfactory experience can only mislead by means of a kind of property hallucination. The implications of my arguments are twofold. First, we see that accounts of representational content cannot always be based on the visual model. And, secondly, we see that we must recast the notion of nonveridicality, allowing for a notion of non-veridical experience that is disengaged from any particular object. (shrink)
I open my eyes and see that the lemon before me is yellow. States like this—states of seeing that $p$ —appear to be visual perceptual states, in some sense. They also appear to be propositional attitudes (and so states with propositional representational contents). It might seem, then, like a view of perceptual experience on which experiences have propositional representational contents—a Propositional View—has to be the correct sort of view for states of seeing that $p$ . And thus we can’t (...) sustain fully general non-Propositional but Representational, or Relational Views of experience. But despite what we might initially be inclined to think when reflecting upon the apparent features of states of seeing that $p$ , a non-propositional view of seeing that $p$ is, I argue, perfectly intelligible. (shrink)
The paper proposes a way of bridging the gapbetween physical processes in the brain and the ''''felt''''aspect of sensory experience. The approach is based onthe idea that experience is not generated by brainprocesses themselves, but rather is constituted by theway these brain processes enable a particular form of''''give-and-take'''' between the perceiver and theenvironment. From this starting-point we are able tocharacterize the phenomenological differences betweenthe different sensory modalities in a more principledway than has been done in the past. We (...) are also ableto approach the issues of visual awareness andconsciousness in a satisfactory way. Finally weconsider a number of testable empirical consequences,one of which is the striking prediction of thephenomenon of ''''change blindness''''. (shrink)
In the last few years there has been an explosion of philosophical interest in perception; after decades of neglect, it is now one of the most fertile areas for new work. Perceptual Experience presents new work by fifteen of the world's leading philosophers. All papers are written specially for this volume, and they cover a broad range of topics dealing with sensation and representation, consciousness and awareness, and the connections between perception and knowledge and between perception and action. This (...) will be the book on the philosophy of perception, a fascinating resource for philosophers and psychologists. (shrink)
The experience machine was traditionally thought to refute hedonism about welfare. In recent years, however, the tide has turned: many philosophers have argued not merely that the experience machine doesn't rule out hedonism, but that it doesn't count against it at all. I argue for a moderate position between those two extremes: although the experience machine doesn't decisively rule out hedonism, it provides us with some reason to reject it. I also argue for a particular way of (...) using the experience machine to argue against hedonism – one that appeals directly to intuitions about the welfare values of experientially identical lives rather than to claims about what we value or claims about whether we would, or should, plug into the machine. The two issues are connected: the conviction that the experience machine leaves hedonism unscathed is partly due to neglect of the best way to use the experience machine. (shrink)
I begin by examining a recent debate between John McDowell and Christopher Peacocke over whether the content of perceptual experience is non-conceptual. Although I am sympathetic to Peacocke’s claim that perceptual content is non-conceptual, I suggest a number of ways in which his arguments fail to make that case. This failure stems from an over-emphasis on the "fine-grainedness" of perceptual content - a feature that is relatively unimportant to its non-conceptual structure. I go on to describe two other features (...) of perceptual experience that are more likely to be relevant to the claim that perceptual content is non-conceptual. These features are 1) the dependence of a perceived object on the perceptual context in which it is perceived and 2) the dependence of a perceived property on the object it is perceived to be a property of. (shrink)
Much of the philosophical work on perception has focused on vision, with very little discussion of the chemical senses—olfaction and gustation. In this paper, I consider the challenge that olfactory experience presents to upholding a representational view of the sense modalities. Given the phenomenology of olfactory experience, it is difficult to see what a representational view of it would be like. Olfaction, then, presents an important challenge for representational theories to overcome. In this paper, I take on this (...) challenge and argue for a representational account of olfactory experience that honors its phenomenology. (shrink)
Unlike those with type 1 blindsight, people who have type 2 blindsight have some sort of consciousness of the stimuli in their blind field. What is the nature of that consciousness? Is it visual experience? I address these questions by considering whether we can establish the existence of any structural—necessary—features of visual experience. I argue that it is very difficult to establish the existence of any such features. In particular, I investigate whether it is possible to visually, or (...) more generally perceptually, experience form or movement at a distance from our body, without experiencing colour. The traditional answer, advocated by Aristotle, and some other philosophers, up to and including the present day, is that it is not and hence colour is a structural feature of visual experience. I argue that there is no good reason to think that this is impossible, and provide evidence from four cases—sensory substitution, achomatopsia, phantom contours and amodal completion—in favour of the idea that it is possible. If it is possible then one important reason for rejecting the idea that people with type 2 blindsight do not have visual experiences is undermined. I suggest further experiments that could be done to help settle the matter. (shrink)
According to the experience property framework qualia are properties of experiences the subject undergoing the experience is aware of. A phenomenological argument against this framework is developed and a few mistakes invited by the framework are described. An alternative to the framework, the framework of experiential properties is presented and defended as preferable. It is argued that the choice between these two frameworks makes a substantial difference for theoretical purposes.
Representationalism is the position that the phenomenal character of an experience is either identical with, or supervenes on, the content of that experience. Many representationalists hold that the relevant content of experience is nonconceptual. I propose a counter-example to this form of representationalism that arises from the phenomenon of Gestalt switching, which occurs when viewing ambiguous figures. First, I argue that one does not need to appeal to the conceptual content of experience or to judge- ments (...) to account for Gestalt switching. I then argue that experiences of certain ambiguous figures are problematic because they have different phenomenal characters but that no difference in the nonconceptual content of these experiences can be identified. I consider three solutions to this problem that have been proposed by both philosophers and psychologists and conclude that none can account for all the ambiguous figures that pose the problem. I conclude that the onus is on representationalists to specify the relevant difference in content or to abandon their position. (shrink)
Consider two deeply appealing thoughts: first, that we experience external particulars, and second, that what it’s like to have an experience – the phenomenal character of an experience – is somehow independent of external particulars. The first thought is readily captured by phenomenal particularism, the view that external particulars are sometimes part of the phenomenal character of experience. The second thought is readily captured by phenomenal generalism, the view that external particulars are never part of phenomenal (...) character. -/- Here I show that a novel version of phenomenal generalism can capture both thoughts in a satisfying fashion. Along the way, I reveal severe problems facing phenomenal particularism and also shed light on the mental kinds under which experiences fall. (shrink)
The nature of temporal experience is typically explained in one of a small number of ways, most are versions of either retentionalism or extensionalism. After describing these, I make a distinction between two kinds of temporal character that could structure temporal experience: A-ish contents are those that present events as structured in past/present/future terms, and B-ish contents are those that present events as structured in earlier-than/later-than/simultaneous-with relations. There are a few exceptions, but most of the literature ignores this (...) distinction, and silently assumes temporal experience is A-ish. I then argue that temporal character is not scale invariant, but rather that temporal experience is A-ish at larger scales, and B-ish at smaller scales. I then point out that this scale non-invariance opens the possibility of hybrid views. I clarify my own view as a hybrid view, according to which temporal experience is B-ish at small scales – and at this scale my trajectory estimation model applies – but A-ish at larger scales, and at the larger scale my TEM does not apply. I then motivate this hybrid position by first defending it against arguments that have tried to show that the TEM is untenable. Since the hybrid view has TEM as its small-scale component, it must address this objection. I then put pressure on the main alternative account, extentionalism, by showing that its proponents have not adequately dealt with the problem of temporal illusions. The result is a new theory motivated by i) explaining its virtues, ii) showing that objections to it can be met, and iii) showing that objections to its main competitors have not been met. (shrink)
Metaphysical theories are often counter-intuitive. But they also often are strongly supported and motivated by intuitions. One way or another, the link between intuitions and metaphysics is a strong and important one, and there is hardly any metaphysical discussion where intuitions do not play a crucial role. In this article, I will be interested in a particular kind of such intuitions, namely those that come, at least partly, from experience. There seems to be a route from experience to (...) metaphysics, and this is the core of my interest here. In order to better understand such ‘arguments from experience’ and the kind of relationship there is between this type of intuitions and metaphysical theories, I shall examine four particular cases where a kind of experience-based intuition seems to motivate or support a metaphysical theory. At the end of the day, I shall argue that this route is a treacherous one, and that in all of the four cases I shall concentrate on, phenomenological considerations are in fact orthogonal to the allegedly ‘corresponding’ metaphysical claims. An anti-realist view of metaphysics will emerge. (shrink)
Researchers from the 1940's through the present have found that normal, sighted people can echolocate - that is, detect properties of silent objects by attending to sound reflected from them. We argue that echolocation is a normal part of our conscious, perceptual experience. Despite this, we argue that people are often grossly mistaken about their experience of echolocation. If so, echolocation provides a counterexample to the view that we cannot be seriously mistaken about our own current conscious (...) class='Hi'>experience. (shrink)
It is argued that Nozick's experience machine thought experiment does not pose a particular difficulty for mental state theories of well-being. While the example shows that we value many things beyond our mental states, this simply reflects the fact that we value more than our own well-being. Nor is a mental state theorist forced to make the dubious claim that we maintain these other values simply as a means to desirable mental states. Valuing more than our mental states is (...) compatible with maintaining that the impact of such values upon our well-being lies in their impact upon our mental lives. (shrink)
There you are at the opera house. The soprano has just hit her high note – a glassshattering high C that fills the hall – and she holds it. She holds it. She holds it. She holds it. She holds it. She holds the note for such a long time that after a while a funny thing happens: you no longer seem only to hear it, the note as it is currently sounding, that glass-shattering high C that is loud and (...) high and pure. In addition, you also seem to hear something more. It is difficult to express precisely what this extra feature is. One is tempted to say, however, that the note now sounds like it has been going on for a very long time. Perhaps it even sounds like a note that has been going on for too long. In any event, what you hear no longer seems to be limited to the pitch, timbre, loudness, and other strictly audible qualities of the note. You seem in addition to experience, even to hear, something about its temporal extent. (shrink)
Philosophers debate whether all, some or none of the represcntational content of our sensory experience is conccptual, but the technical term "concept" has different uses. It is commonly linked more or less closely with the notions of judgdment and reasoning, but that leaves open the possibility that these terms share a systematic ambiguity or indeterminacy. Donald Davidson, however, holds an unequivocal and consistent, if paradoxical view that there are strictly speaking no psychological states with representational or intentional content except (...) the propositional attitudes of language users, since thc source or fundamental bearer of intentionality is the employed sentence. Accordingly he claims that what has content in ordinary sense experience is not sensation, but propositional belief caused, but not justified, by sensation. John McDowell, sharing some ofDavidson's premises,holds a less paradoxical, but (l will argue) equivocal and incoherent view that post-infantile human sensory expcrience must have content in so far as it is what grounds perceptual belief but that this content is itself conceptual or propositional, dependent on language and culture. Reasons are givcn in the present article for rejecting both views, and their common premises. It is argued that perceptual or sensory states have intentional content which is no more conceptual or propositional than the world is. Recognition that perceptual content and conceptual content are, in a certain unsurprising way incommensurable allows for a more realistic understanding of the relationship between Language and the world as we experience it. (shrink)
Some recently popular accounts of perception account for the phenomenal character of perceptual experience in terms of the qualities of objects. My concern in this paper is with naturalistic versions of such a phenomenal externalist view. Focusing on visual spatial perception, I argue that naturalistic phenomenal externalism conflicts with a number of scientific facts about the geometrical characteristics of visual spatial experience.
This is an expanded and revised discussion of the argument briefly put forward in my 'A New Problem for the A-Theory of Time', where it is claimed that it is impossible to experience real temporal passage and that no such phenomenon exists. In the first half of the paper the premises of the argument are discussed in more detail than before. In the second half responses are given to several possible objections, none of which were addressed in the earlier (...) paper. There is also some discussion of some related epistemic arguments against the passage of time given by Huw Price and David Braddon-Mitchell along with objections raised against them recently by Tim Maudlin and Peter Forrest respectively. (shrink)
Descriptive Experience Sampling (DES) is a method for exploring inner experience. DES subjects carry a random beeper in natural environments; when the beep sounds, they capture their inner experience, jot down notes about it, and report it to an investigator in a subsequent expositional interview. DES is a fundamentally idiographic method, describing faithfully the pristine inner experiences of persons. Subsequently, DES can be used in a nomothetic way to describe the characteristics of groups of people who share (...) some common characteristic. This paper describes DES and compares it to Petitmengin’s [Phenomenol Cogn Sci, this issue] second-person interview method. (shrink)
Based on the belief that computational modeling (thinking in terms of representation and computations) can help to clarify controversial issues in emotion theory, this article examines emotional experience from the perspective of the Computational Belief–Desire Theory of Emotion (CBDTE), a computational explication of the belief–desire theory of emotion. It is argued that CBDTE provides plausible answers to central explanatory challenges posed by emotional experience, including: the phenomenal quality,intensity and object-directedness of emotional experience, the function of emotional (...) class='Hi'>experience and its relation to cognition and motivation, and the relation between emotional experience and emotion. In addition, CBDTE avoids most objections that have been raised against cognitive theories of emotion. A remaining objection, that beliefs are not necessary for the emotions covered by CBDTE, is rejected as empirically unsupported. (shrink)
This book addresses a fundamental question in the philosophy of religion. Can religious experience provide evidence for religious belief? If so, how? Keith Yandell argues against the notion that religious experience is ineffable, while advocating the view that strong numinous experience provides some evidence that God exists. An attractive feature of the book is that it does not confine its attention to any one religious cultural tradition, but tracks the nature of religious experience across different traditions (...) in both the East and the West. (shrink)
It is often said that some kind of peripheral (or inattentional) conscious awareness accompanies our focal (attentional) consciousness. I agree that this is often the case, but clarity is needed on several fronts. In this paper, I lay out four distinct theses on peripheral awareness and show that three of them are true. However, I then argue that a fourth thesis, commonly associated with the so-called "self-representational approach to consciousness," is false. The claim here is that we have outer focal (...) consciousness accompanied often (or even always) by inner peripheral (self-)awareness. My criticisms stem from both methodological and phenomenological considerations. In doing so, I offer a diagnosis as to why the fourth thesis has seemed true to so many and also show how the so-called "transparency of experience," frequently invoked by representationalists, is importantly relevant to my diagnosis. Finally, I respond to several objections and to further attempts to show that thesis four is true. What emerges is that if one wishes to hold that some form of self-awareness accompanies all outer-directed conscious states, one is better off holding that such self-awareness is itself unconscious, as is held for example by standard higher-order theories of consciousness. (shrink)
Does all conscious experience essentially involve self-consciousness? In his Subjectivity and Selfhood: Investigating the First-Person, Dan Zahavi answers “yes”. I criticize three core arguments offered in support of this answer—a well-known regress argument, what I call the “interview argument,” and a phenomenological argument. Drawing on Sartre, I introduce a phenomenological contrast between plain experience and self-conscious experience. The contrast challenges the thesis that conscious experience entails self-consciousness.
Is color experience cognitively penetrable? Some philosophers have recently argued that it is. In this paper, we take issue with the claim that color experience is cognitively penetrable. We argue that the notion of cognitive penetration that has recently dominated the literature is flawed since it fails to distinguish between the modulation of perceptual content by non-perceptual principles and genuine cognitive penetration. We use this distinction to show that studies suggesting that color experience can be modulated by (...) factors of the cognitive system do not establish that color experience is cognitively penetrable. Additionally, we argue that even if color experience turns out to be modulated by color-related beliefs and knowledge beyond non-perceptual principles, it does not follow that color experience is cognitively penetrable since the experiences of determinate hues involve post-perceptual processes. We conclude with a brief discussion of the implications that these ideas may have on debates in philosophy. (shrink)
Par un procédé d'objections/réponses, nous passons d'abord en revue certains des arguments en faveur ou en défaveur du caractère empirique de la simulation informatique. A l'issue de ce chemin clarificateur, nous proposons des arguments en faveur du caractère concret des objets simulés en science, ce qui légitime le fait que l'on parle à leur sujet d'une expérience, plus spécifiquement d'une expérience concrète du second genre.