Introducing the recent discovery of mental illusions or tricks played by the mind similar to optical illusions, a scientist explores the new concept in brain research and identifies "juror's fallacy," "predictability in hindsight," and "seven deadly mental sins.".
The Illusion of Doubt confronts one of the most important questions in philosophy and beyond: what can we know? The radical sceptic's answer is 'not very much' if we cannot prove that we are not subject to deception. For centuries philosophers have been impressed by the radical sceptic's move, but this book shows that the radical sceptical problem turns out to be an illusion created by a mistaken picture of our evidential situation. This means that we don't need (...) to answer the radical sceptical problem 'head on', but rather to undermine the philosophical assumptions that it depends on. For without these assumptions, radical scepticism collapses all by itself. This result is highly significant, as it manages to dissolve one of the most intractable philosophical problems that has bedevilled some of the greatest minds until the present day. (shrink)
In this chapter I will employ a well-known scientific research heuristic that studies how something works by focusing on circumstances in which it does not work. Rather than trying to describe what scientific understanding would ideally look like, I will try to learn something about it by observing mundane cases where understanding is partly illusory. My main thesis is that scientists are prone to the illusion of depth of understanding (IDU), and as a consequence they sometimes overestimate the detail, (...) coherence, and depth of their understanding. I will analyze the notion of understanding and its relation to a sense of understanding. In order to make plausible the claim that these are often disconnected, I will describe an interesting series of psychological experiments by Frank Keil and his coauthors that suggests that ordinary people routinely overestimate the depth of their understanding. en I will argue that we should take seriously the possibility that scientific cognition is also aðected by IDU and spell out some possible causes of explanatory illusions in science. I will conclude this chapter by discussing how scientific explanatory practices could be improved and how the philosophy of science might be able to contribute to this process. (shrink)
In the Protagoras, Socrates argues that what appears to be akrasia is, in fact, the result of a hedonic illusion: proximate pleasures appear greater than distant ones. On the face of it, his account is puzzling: why should proximate pleasures appear greater than distant ones? Certain interpreters argue that Socrates must be assuming the existence of non-rational desires that cause proximate pleasures to appear inflated. In this paper, I argue that positing non-rational desires fails to explain the hedonic error. (...) However, careful consideration of Socrates’ treatment of appearances reveals that he is not without resources to explain the illusion. I argue that in the Protagoras, appearances are imagistic mental representations that appear true but tend to be false. I suggest that proximate pleasures produce inflated hedonic predictions because we represent them more vividly than distant ones, yielding greater anticipatory pleasure which causes us to overestimate their magnitude. (shrink)
In this book Daniel Wegner offers a novel understanding of the relation of consciousness, the will, and our intentional and voluntary actions. Wegner claims that our experience and common sense view according to which we can influence our behavior roughly the way we experience that we do it is an illusion.
There is a widespread, popular view—and one I basically endorse—that Nietzsche is, in one sense of the word, a nihilist. As Arthur Danto put it some time ago, according to Nietzsche, “there is nothing in [the world] which might sensibly be supposed to have value.” As interpreters of Nietzsche, though, we cannot simply stop here. Nietzsche's higher men, Übermenschen, “genuine philosophers”, free spirits—the types Nietzsche wants to bring forth from the human, all-too-human herds he sees around him with the fish (...) hooks, as he says, of his books—seem to engage in what looks like valuing. These free spirits are supposed to revalue the old values—revaluing, as is clear from the texts, is not simply to remove the old values from circulation (Nietzsche uses “umwerten” and not “entwerten”)—and they are supposed to create new values. And, of course, Nietzsche himself, free spirit that he is, takes on the task of revaluing all values and seems to assert many a strident evaluation. So we need to say more here. What are Nietzsche and his free spirits up to when they engage in what looks, for all the world, like a practice of valuing? What is the practice of valuing Nietzsche is recommending for his free spirits? I argue for two claims: (i) First, we end up facing an interpretive puzzle when we attempt to explain how Nietzsche's free spirits are supposed to engage in a practice of valuing. (ii) Second, we can solve the interpretive puzzle by taking Nietzsche's free spirits to be engaged in a fictionalist simulacrum of valuing. (shrink)
Does the status of certain temporal experiences as illusory depend on one’s conception of time? Our concept of time in part determines our concept of what we hold to be real and unreal; what we hold to be real and unreal partially determines what we hold to be illusory; thus, our concept of time in part determines what we hold to be illusory. This paper argues that this dependency of illusions on the concept of time is applicable to illusions of (...) time. Two possible temporal illusions given the evidence are examined, simultaneity and the experience of the past; it is argued that the evidence points at temporal illusions depending on which conception of time is true. (shrink)
It is common among philosophers who take an interest in the phenomenon of vagueness in natural language not merely to acknowledge higher-order vagueness but to take its existence as a basic datum— so that views that lack the resources to account for it, or that put obstacles in the way, are regarded as deficient just on that score. My main purpose in what follows is to loosen the hold of this deeply misconceived idea. Higher-order vagueness is no basic datum but (...) an illusion, fostered by misunderstandings of the nature of (ordinary, if you will ‘first-order’) vagueness itself. To see through the illusion is to take a step that is prerequisite for a correct understanding of vagueness, and for any satisfying dissolution of its attendant paradoxes. (shrink)
This paper argues that episodic thoughts are always unconscious. Whether consciousness is understood in terms of global broadcasting/widespread accessibility or in terms of non-interpretive higher-order awareness, the conclusion is the same: there is no such thing as conscious thought. Arguments for this conclusion are reviewed. The challenge of explaining why we should all be under the illusion that our thoughts are often conscious is then taken up.
A central thesis of Frankish's argument for illusionism is the claim that illusionism is possibly true. This is what the realist about phenomenal consciousness must deny. Frankish's argument for that premise is based on a widely shared understanding of phenomenal consciousness as being a matter of certain events instantiating special properties. I argue that the illusionist's reasoning is difficult to avoid if one accepts this common account. A positive argument for the thesis that the mere possibility of illusionism can be (...) excluded is developed. It uses a proposal about how the notion of phenomenal consciousness should be taken to pick out the phenomenon it refers to. Given that account it becomes obvious that the illusionist cannot be understood as seriously accepting his own theory. The belief in illusionism thus turns out to be an illusion. (shrink)
Projecting Illusion offers a systematic analysis of the impression of reality in the cinema and the pleasure it gives to the film spectator. Film provides a compelling experience that can be considered as a form of illusion akin to the experience of day-dream and dream. Examining the concept of illusion and its relationship to fantasy in the experience of visual representation, Richard Allen situates his explanation within the context of an analytical criticism of contemporary film and critical (...) theory. He argues that many contemporary film theorists correctly identify the significance of the impression of reality, although their explanation of it is incorrect because of an invalid philosophical understanding of the relationship between the mind, representation and reality. Offering a clear presentation and critique of the central arguments of contemporary film and critical theory, Allen also touches on fundamental issues in current discourses of philosophy, art history and feminist theory. (shrink)
As standardly conceived, an illusion is an experience of an object o appearing F where o is not in fact F. Paradigm examples of color illusion, however, do not fit this pattern. A diagnosis of this uncovers different sense of appearance talk that is the basis of a dilemma for the standard conception. The dilemma is only a challenge. But if the challenge cannot be met, then any conception of experience, such as representationalism, that is committed to the (...) standard conception is false. Perhaps surprisingly, naïve realism provides a better account of color illusion.An apparence ymaad by som Magyk. Chaucer. (shrink)
This paper is primarily about metaphysics; specifically, about a Cartesian view of the self, according to which it is a simple, enduring, non-material entity.I take a critical look at Nida-Rümelin’s novel conceptual arguments for this view and argue that they don’t give us decisive reasons to uphold the Cartesian view. But in Nida-Rümelin’s view, what is at stake in these arguments is not merely theoretical: the truth – and our beliefs about it – has practical consequences as well. In her (...) view, if the Cartesian simple view of the self were false, we would have no reason to love and care for family and friends, and our special interest in our own future would be pointless. In the last section of this paper, I will say something about the sense in which it is right and the sense in which it is wrong to think that the metaphysics of the self has broader relevance for our lives. (shrink)
This chapter challenges the view that perceptual illusions are mistakes, by first of all emphasizing how the concept of illusions-as-mistakes relies on perspectives unavailable within illusory experiences and introduces norms fixed outside such experiences. A study of ‘rubber hand illusions’ suggests how illusions are not mistaken perceptions, but cases in which perceived objects makes a different kind of sense—in virtue of a norm that is not a fixed, objective standard but is ongoingly engendered within the dynamics of living, perceptual behaviour. (...) This leads to the view that perception is not founded on readymade norms that stand as a past fixed outside living dynamics. Rather, norms are rather a past that ongoingly emerges within living behaviour—they are what I call temporal spandrels of living temporality. (shrink)
Written nearly fifty years ago, at a time when the world was still wrestling with the concepts of Marx and Lenin, 'The Illusion of the Epoch' is the perfect resource for understanding the roots of Marxism-Leninism and its implications for philosophy, modern political thought, economics, and history. As Professor Tim Fuller has written, this "is not an intemperate book, but rather an effort at a sustained, scholarly argument against Marxian views." Far from demonising his subject, Acton scrupulously notes where (...) Marx's account of historical and economic events and processes is essentially accurate. However, Acton also points out that Marx is generally right about things that were already widely known and accepted in his own time and indeed had been long understood in the nineteenth century. On the other hand, Acton shows that in many cases Marx either is simply wrong or has stated his views so as to render his theories immune to disproof. Acton also explains why the embodiment of Marxist-Leninist theory in an actual social order would require coercive support if it were not, sooner or later, to collapse of its own contradictions. (shrink)
Nous défendons la thèse selon laquelle les images sont phénoménalement transparentes : nous ne voyons (quasiment) jamais leur surface mais seulement ce que les images dépeignent, ce qui implique que notre expérience des images est fondamentalement une illusion. Cette thèse s’oppose à celle de R. Wollheim, qui fait aujourd’hui figure de position standard, selon laquelle nous percevons la surface et le depictum. Une même expérience perceptive, selon nous, ne peut avoir deux objets ou deux aspects. En ce sens, nous (...) sommes plus proche de la position de E.H. Gombrich : nous percevons soit la surface, soit le depictum, mais jamais les deux. Nous cherchons toutefois à la radicaliser en soutenant qu’il est finalement très rare de percevoir la surface de l’image. (shrink)
This edited collection presents the latest cutting-edge research in the philosophy and cognitive science of temporal illusions. Illusion and error have long been important points of entry for both philosophical and psychological approaches to understanding the mind. Temporal illusions, specifically, concern a fundamental feature of lived experience, temporality, and its relation to a fundamental feature of the world, time, thus providing invaluable insight into investigations of the mind and its relationship with the world. The existence of temporal illusions crucially (...) challenges the naïve assumption that we can simply infer the temporal nature of the world from experience. This anthology gathers eighteen original papers from current leading researchers in this subject, covering four broad and interdisciplinary topics: illusions of temporal passage, illusions and duration, illusions of temporal order and simultaneity, and the relationship between temporal illusions and the cognitive representation of time. (shrink)
La question à laquelle je veux tenter de répondre est la suivante : Quelle est la nature ontologique de ce que nous percevons lorsque nous sommes sujets à une illusion ou à une hallucination ? (Cette question n’est pas directement liée au thème de ce séminaire, mais la réponse que je veux lui apporter l’est.) La réponse proposée est la suivante : Ce que nous voyons en cas d’illusion est une propriété physique du milieu perceptif attribuée à l’objet (...) perçu. (shrink)
Saul Smilansky presents an original new approach to the problem of free will, which lies at the heart of morality and self-understanding. He maintains that the key to the problem is the role played by illusion. Smilansky boldly claims that we could not live adequately with a complete awareness of the truth about human freedom and that illusion lies at the center of the human condition.
There are two related points at which J.J. Gibson’s ecological theory of visual perception remains remarkably underspecified: Firstly, the notion of information for perception is not explicated in much detail beyond the claim that it “specifies” the environment for perception, and, thus being an objective affair, enables an organism to perceive action possibilities or “affordances.” Secondly, misperceptions of affordances and perceptual illusions are not clearly distinguished from each other. Although the first claim seems to suggest that any perceptual illusion (...) amounts to the misperception of affordances, there might be some relevant differences between various ways of getting things wrong. In this essay, Gibson’s notion of “specifying” information shall be reconstructed along the lines of Fred Dretske’s relational theory of information. This refined notion of information for perception will then be used to carve out the distinction between perceptual illusions and the misperception of affordances, with some help from the “Empirical Strategy” (developed by Purves et al.). It will be maintained that there are cases where perceptual illusions actually help an organism to correctly perceive an affordance. In such cases, the prima facie misrendered informational relations involved are kept intact by a set of appropriate transformation rules. Two of Gibson’s intuitions shall thus be preserved: the objectivity of informational relations and the empowerment of the organism as an active perceiver who uses those objective relations to his specific ends. (shrink)
In "What the Nose Doesn't Know", I argue that there are no olfactory illusions. Central to the traditional notions of illusion and hallucination is a notion of object-failure—the failure of an experience to represent particular objects. Because there are no presented objects in the case of olfactory experience, I argue that the traditional ways of categorizing non-veridical experience do not apply to the olfactory case. In their place, I propose a novel notion of non-veridical experience for the olfactory case. (...) In his (2011), Stevenson responds to my claim that there are no olfactory illusions. Although he agrees that it is natural—or at least commonplace—to think there are no olfactory illusions, he argues that there are and provides examples of them, many of which he suggests have analogues in the visual and auditory domains. In this paper, I examine the nature of the disagreement between us. I argue that Stevenson fails to argue against my conclusion that there are no olfactory illusions. (shrink)
Many contemporary theorists charge that naïve realists are incapable of accounting for illusions. Various sophisticated proposals have been ventured to meet this charge. Here, we take a different approach and dispute whether the naïve realist owes any distinctive account of illusion. To this end, we begin with a simple, naïve account of veridical perception. We then examine the case that this account cannot be extended to illusions. By reconstructing an explicit version of this argument, we show that it depends (...) critically on the contention that perceptual experience is diaphanous, or more minimally and precisely, that there can be no difference in phenomenal properties between two experiences without a difference in the scenes presented in those experiences. Finding no good reason to accept this claim, we develop and defend a simple, naïve account of both veridical perception and illusion, here dubbed Simple, Austere Naïve Realism. (shrink)
Illusionism about phenomenal consciousness is the thesis that phenomenal consciousness does not exist, even though it seems to exist. This thesis is widely judged to be uniquely counterintuitive: the idea that consciousness is an illusion strikes most people as absurd, and seems almost impossible to contemplate in earnest. Defenders of illusionism should be able to explain the apparent absurdity of their own thesis, within their own framework. However, this is no trivial task: arguably, none of the illusionist theories currently (...) on the market is able to do this. I present a new theory of phenomenal introspection and argue that it might deal with the task at hand. (shrink)
This metaphysical and personal exploration of the nature of life provides a rare guide to living and dying fearlessly and with grace. Using the wisdom obtained over a lifetime of spiritual seeking, study, and practice, along with insights gained from the death of her significant other, Clare Goldsberry explores the fundamental nature of life and death, as well as their meaning and purpose. Sharing the wisdom and knowledge of the ancient sages, spiritual teachers like the Buddha, philosophers like Plato and (...) Seneca, and modern-day quantum physicists, Goldsberry walks us through the mystery of death and dying-and explores the meaning and purpose of life. Drawing from Buddhism, Hinduism, and her partner's cancer journey, she provides a profound view of living and dying as seen through the ages by those who have sought answers regarding the most mysterious aspect of life-this thing we call death. Clare Goldsberry has experienced Protestant Christianity, Mormonism, the Ageless Wisdom Teachings, Gnosticism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. She writes about religion and spiritual traditions for Quest magazine and other publications, and her book A Stranger in Zion: A Christian's Journey through the Heart of Utah Mormonism won the Arizona Book Publishers Association's Glyph Award for Best Religion Book in 2003. Goldsberry has also published six books on marketing and sales strategies for small- to mid-sized manufacturing companies, and she founded her own marketing and public relations business in 1989. She lives and works in Arizona. (shrink)
Nineteenth-century optical toys that showcase illusions of motion such as the phenakistoscope, zoetrope, and praxinoscope, have enjoyed active “afterlives” in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Contemporary incarnations of the zoetrope are frequently found in the realms of fine art and advertising, and they are often much larger than their nineteenth-century counterparts. This article argues that modern-day optical toys are able to conjure feelings of wonder and spectacle equivalent to their nineteenth-century antecedents because of their adjustment in scale. Exploring a range (...) of contemporary philosophical toys found in arts, entertainment, and advertising contexts, the article discusses various technical adjustments made to successfully “scale up” optical toys, including the replacement of hand-spun mechanisms with larger sources of motion and the use of various means such as architectural features and stroboscopic lights to replace traditional shutter mechanisms such as the zoetrope’s dark slots. Critical consideration of scale as a central feature of these installations reconfigures the relationship between audience and device. Large-scale adaptations of optical toys revise the traditional conception of the user, who is able to tactilely manipulate and interact with the apparatus, instead positing a viewer who has less control over the illusion’s operation and is instead a captive audience surrounded by the animation. It is primarily through their adaptation of scale that contemporary zoetropes successfully elicit wonder as scientific spectacles from their audiences today. (shrink)
Human agency -- Alienness : experiencing one's own incoherence -- Alienness, understanding, and self-deception -- God's project of self-deception -- Alienation and political agency -- How we fooled ourselves into believing in progress -- The monetary illusion -- The good life and economic activity -- Human activity : a molecular approach to action theory.
Austere relationism rejects the orthodox analysis of hallucinations and illusions as incorrect perceptual representations. In this article, I argue that illusions of optimal motion present a serious challenge for this view. First, I submit that austere-relationist accounts of misleading experiences cannot be adapted to account for IOMs. Second, I show that any attempt at elucidating IOMs within an austere-relationist framework undermines the claim that perceptual experiences fundamentally involve relations to mind-independent objects. Third, I develop a representationalist model of IOMs. The (...) proposed analysis combines two ideas: Evans' dynamic modes of presentation and Fine's relational semantics for identity. (shrink)
A lot of us have given up on the idea that there will be a naturalistic account of the relation of semantic reference and so have resolved to formulate our theories of semantics and communication without appeal to semantic reference. Still, there is a resilient intuition to the effect that I know the extensions of the terms of my language. This paper explicates that intuition without yielding to it. The key idea is to give a “skeptical” account of what it (...) is to “know the meaning” of a word, by which I mean an account of the status that is granted to a person in saying that he or she “knows the meaning” of a word. (shrink)
When unknowingly experiencing a perceptual hallucination, a subject can attempt to think specifically about what is, as far as he or she can tell, the perceived object. Is the subject then deceived about his or her cognitive situation? I answer negatively. Moreover, I argue that this answer is compatible with holding that thought specifically about a certain object – singular thought – is object-dependent. By contrast, both critics and advocates of the view that singular thought is object-dependent have assumed this (...) view to be committed to postulation of illusions of object-dependent thought in cases like that mentioned. The core ingredient in my illusion-free version of the view is a special form of disjunctivism. Alleged cases of illusion are not considered parasitic on ‘the good case’ where the object thought about is perceived. (shrink)
This paper examines the 'taking back control' over immigration arguments offered for Brexit and for reinforcing the Southern border of the United States. According to these arguments, Brexit and increased border enforcement were needed to ensure collective self-governance for the peoples of Britain and the United States. I argue that 1. In fact these policies did little to enhance collective self-governance properly understood, and 2. They actually thwarted collective self-governance due their racially exclusionary effects on people of color in Britain (...) and the United States. (shrink)
It is widely believed that existential quantifiers can bring about the semantic effects of a scope which is wider than their actual syntactic scope (See Fodor & Sag (1982), Cresti (1995), Kratzer (1995), Reinhart (1995) and Winter (1995), among many others.) On the other hand, it is assumed that the syntactic scope of universal quantifiers can be determined unequivocally by the semantics. This paper shows that this second assumption is wrong; universal quantifiers can also bring about scope illusions, though in (...) a very specific environment. In particular, we argue that in the environment of generic tense, universal quantifiers can show the semantic effects of a scope which is wider than the one that is actually realized at LF. Our argument has four steps. First, we show that in generic contexts, universal quantifiers escape standard “scope-islands” (Section 1). Second, we show how the effects of wide scope in generic contexts can be achieved without syntactic wide scope (Section 2.1). Third, we show that this result is actually forced on us, once we take seriously certain independent issues concerning the interpretation of generic tense (Sections 2.2 - 2.4). Finally, the semantics of generic tense and, in particular, its interaction with focus, will yield some intricate new predictions, which, as we show, are borne out (Sections 3 - 5). (shrink)
1. “All Theory is Against Free Will…” Powerful arguments have been leveled against the concepts of free will and moral responsibility since the Greeks and perhaps earlier. Some—the hard determinists—aim to show that free will is incompatible with determinism, and that determinism is true. Therefore there is no free will. Others, the “no-free-will-either-way-theorists,” agree that determinism is incompatible with free will, but add that indeterminism, especially the variety posited by quantum physicists, is also incompatible with free will. Therefore there is (...) no free will. Finally, there are the a priori arguments against free will. These arguments conclude that it makes no difference what metaphysical commitments we hold: free will and ultimate moral responsibility are incoherent concepts. Why? Because in order to have free will and ultimate moral responsibility we would have to be causa sui, or ‘cause of oneself.’ And it is logically impossible to be self-caused in this way. Here, for example, is Nietzsche on the causa sui. (shrink)
On reading the grain argument as advanced by Meehl and Sellars, I find that there is not one but two grain arguments. According to one argument, mental events cannot be the same as neural events because mental events have a continuity that neural events do not have. The other argues for the same conclusion from the simplicity of experienced quality. I answer these arguments by claiming that these properties of experience are illusory. I detail a dual threshold theory of visual (...) experience and show that given this model the mind-brain identity theory predicts the existence of these illusions. (shrink)
Worlds where things divide forever ("gunk" worlds) are apparently conceivable. The conceivability of such scenarios has been used as an argument against "nihilist" or "near-nihilist" answers to the special composition question. I argue that the mereological nihilist has the resources to explain away the illusion that gunk is possible.
Wegner (Wegner, D. (2002). The illusion of conscious will. MIT Press) argues that conscious will is an illusion, citing a wide range of empirical evidence. I shall begin by surveying some of his arguments. Many are unsuccessful. But one—an argument from the ubiquity of self-interpretation—is more promising. Yet is suffers from an obvious lacuna, offered by so-called ‘dual process’ theories of reasoning and decision making (Evans, J., & Over, D. (1996). Rationality and reasoning. Psychology Press; Stanovich, K. (1999). (...) Who is rational? Studies of individual differences in reasoning. Lawrence Erlbaum; Frankish, K. (2004). Mind and supermind. Cambridge University Press). I shall argue that this lacuna can be filled by a plausible a priori claim about the causal role of anything deserving to be called ‘a will.’ The result is that there is no such thing as conscious willing: conscious will is, indeed, an illusion. (shrink)
We live in an age alleged devoted to evidence-based medicine. Evidence-based medicine, however, depends on reliable data and if the data are largely, if not completely, manipulated by the manufacturer of pharmaceuticals, then the data are not reliable. Evidence-based medicine is an illusion. This book raises and attempts to answer the following questions: What are the ways in which the profit motive of industry undermines the integrity of science? How is science protected from corporate malfeasance in a capitalist economy? (...) Our particular focus is the relationship between the pharmaceutical industry and medicine. We argue that medicine desperately needs to re-evaluate its relationship with the pharmaceutical industry and re-affirm the ideal of evidence-based medicine. In our view, Karl Popper’s philosophy of science, Falsificationism and Critical Rationalism, provides a rigorous conception of science required to preserve the integrity of the scientific basis of medicine against the commercial influences. (shrink)
The advent of evidence-based medicine was a paradigm shift intended to provide a solid scientific foundation for medicine. The validity of this paradigm, however, depends on reliable data from clinical trials, mostly conducted by the pharmaceutical industry and reported in the names of senior academics. The release of previously confidential pharmaceutical industry documents into the public domain has given the medical community valuable insight into the degree to which industry-sponsored clinical trials are manipulated and misrepresented. Until this problem is corrected, (...) evidence-based medicine is an illusion. (shrink)