My object in this paper is to suggest a few reflections on some themes in Bentham's work which others as well as I have noted, without perhaps developing them as fully as might with advantage be done. There will be nothing like full development in the limited compass of what is said here, but what is said may at least indicate possible directions for further exploration. The greater part of the paper will be concerned with the notion of natural authority; (...) but I want to begin by taking a broader, though no doubt rather superficial, view of the role in Bentham's thinking of the concepts of ‘nature’ and ‘the natural’. (shrink)
Even if all of the content of conscious experience is encoded in the brain, there is a considerable difference between the view that consciousness does independent processing and the view that it does not. If all processing is done by the brain, then conscious experience is unnecessary and irrelevant to behavior. If consciousness performs a function, then its association with particular aspects of brain processing reflect its functional use in determining behavior. However, if consciousness does perform a function, it cannot (...) be described entirely by known physical laws. Rather, even if the content of conscious experience follows physical encoding in the brain, consciousness must then be governed in part by a principle which is different from any known physical principle. (shrink)
The term action of consciousness is used to refer to an influence, such as psychokinesis or free will, that produces an effect on matter that is correlated to mental intention, but not completely determined by physical conditions. Such an action could not conserve energy. But in that case, one wonders why, when highly accurate measurements are done, occasions of non-conserved energy (generated perhaps by unconscious PK) are not detected. A possible explanation is that actions of consciousness take place within the (...) limits of the uncertainty principle. Two models are reviewed that, using the latter assumption, propose that consciousness can originate an action potential in the brain. One (that of Eccles) uses the latter assumption only, and the other (that of Burns) additionally assumes that consciousness acts, within those limits, by ordering quantum fluctuations. (shrink)
The possibility of empirical test is discussed with respect to three issues: (1) What is the ontological relationship between consciousness and the brain/physical world? (2) What physical characteristics are associated with the mind/brain interface? (3) Can consciousness act on the brain independently of any brain process?
Schizophrenia is a worldwide, prevalent disorder with a multifactorial but highly genetic aetiology. A constant prevalence rate in the face of reduced fecundity has caused some to argue that an evolutionary advantage exists in unaffected relatives. Here, I critique this adaptationist approach, and review – and find wanting – Crow's “speciation” hypothesis. In keeping with available biological and psychological evidence, I propose an alternative theory of the origins of this disorder. Schizophrenia is a disorder of the social brain, and it (...) exists as a costly trade-off in the evolution of complex social cognition. Paleoanthropological and comparative primate research suggests that hominids evolved complex cortical interconnectivity (in particular, frontotemporal and frontoparietal circuits) to regulate social cognition and the intellectual demands of group living. I suggest that the ontogenetic mechanism underlying this cerebral adaptation was sequential hypermorphosis and that it rendered the hominid brain vulnerable to genetic and environmental insults. I argue that changes in genes regulating the timing of neurodevelopment occurred prior to the migration of Homo sapiens out of Africa 100,000–150,000 years ago, giving rise to the schizotypal spectrum. While some individuals within this spectrum may have exhibited unusual creativity and iconoclasm, this phenotype was not necessarily adaptive in reproductive terms. However, because the disorder shared a common genetic basis with the evolving circuitry of the social brain, it persisted. Thus schizophrenia emerged as a costly trade-off in the evolution of complex social cognition. Key Words: cortical connectivity; evolution; heterochrony; metarepresentation; primates; psychiatry; schizophrenia; social brain; social cognition. (shrink)
Two forms of independent action by consciousness have been proposed by various researchers – free will and holistic processing. (Holistic processing contributes to the formation of behavior through the holistic use of brain programs and encoding.) The well-known experiment of Libet et al. (1983) implies that if free will exists, its action must consist of making a selection among alternatives presented by the brain. As discussed herein, this result implies that any physical changes mind can produce in the brain are (...) very small, and this in turn implies that holistic processing would also act to select among brain programs. The latter process would contribute to flexibility of behavior, which would therefore be an indication of the possible presence of consciousness in an animal. Because locomotion requires response to varying and unpredictable conditions, the above conclusions support the idea that simple forms of consciousness appear very early in the evolutionary line of the animal kingdom. (shrink)
The object of this article is to examine, with the work of Jeremy Bentham as the principal example, one strand in the complex pattern of European social theory during the second half of the eighteenth century. This was of course the period not only of the American and French revolutions, but of the culmination of the movements of thought constituting what we know as the Enlightenment. Like all great historical episodes, the Enlightenment was both the fulfilment of long-established processes and (...) the inauguration of new processes of which the fulfilment lay in the future. Thus the seminal ideas of seventeenth-century rationalism realized and perhaps exhausted their potentialities in the eighteenth-century Enlightenment. The ideas with which this article is concerned, however—conveniently grouped and labelled as the ideas of utilitarianism—only began to achieve systematic development in these later decades of the eighteenth century. Within that period—during the first half and more of Bentham's long life—attempts to apply those ideas to the solution of social problems met largely with failure and frustration. Yet unrealized potentialities remained, the realization of which was reserved for a time when the world of the philosophes no longer existed. The movements for social and political reform which have played so large a part in modern history since the French Revolution may be judged in widely differing ways; but whatever the verdict, these movements surely cannot be understood without due consideration of that part of their origins which lies in eighteenth-century utilitarianism. (shrink)
In the two related works in this volume, Bentham offers a detailed critique of William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England. He provides important refelctions on the nature of law, and more particularly on the nature of customary and statute law, and on judicial interpretation.
It is shown that entropy increase in thermodynamic systems can plausibly be accounted for by the random action of vacuum radiation. A recent calculation by Rueda using stochastic electrodynamics (SED) shows that vacuum radiation causes a particle to undergo a rapid Brownian motion about its average dynamical trajectory. It is shown that the magnitude of spatial drift calculated by Rueda can also be predicted by assuming that the average magnitudes of random shifts in position and momentum of a particle correspond (...) to the lower limits of the uncertainty relation. The latter analysis yields a plausible expression for the shift in momentum caused by vacuum radiation. It is shown that when the latter shift in momentum is magnified in particle interactions, the fractional change in each momentum component is on the order of unity within a few collision times, for gases and (plausibly) for denser systems over a very broad range of physical conditions. So any system of particles in this broad range of conditions would move to maximum entropy, subject to its thermodynamic constraints, within a few collision times. It is shown that the spatial drift caused by vacuum radiation, as predicted by the above SED calculation, can be macroscopic in some circumstances, and an experimental test of this effect is proposed. Consistency of the above results with quantum mechanics is discussed, and it is shown that the diffusion constant associated with the above Brownian drift is the same as that used in stochastic interpretations of the Schrödinger equation. (shrink)
Experiments show that psi differs from known physical processes in a variety of ways, and these differences are described herein. Because of these, psi cannot be accounted for in terms of presently known physical laws. A number of theories, of which we review a sampling, suggest ways in which known physical laws might be expanded in order to account for psi. However, there is no agreement on which of these theories, if any, will ultimately provide a general explanation. A further (...) problem in studying psi is that it is elusive, i.e., methods are not presently known by which it can be reliably produced. However, if psi is real, its study can open the door to a new frontier of knowledge and contribute to our understanding of consciousness. (shrink)
By the death, last summer, of Jack Robson, the world of utilitarian studies and a wider world of scholarship on both sides of the Atlantic lost one of their most distinguished figures. It would not be appropriate here, even if it were possible now, to attempt a full and measured assessment of his work. Writing only a few months after the news of his death, while the sense of loss is still so sharp for all his many friends, two things (...) are possible. Something can and should be said to acknowledge and celebrate Robson's achievement as a scholar; and to this can be added some personal recollections of one whose human qualities were as outstanding as his scholarship. (shrink)
Vacuum radiation causes a particle to make a random walk about its dynamical trajectory. In this random walk the root mean square change in spatial coordinate is proportional to t 1/2, and the fractional changes in momentum and energy are proportional to t −1/2, where t is time. Thus the exchange of energy and momentum between a particle and the vacuum tends to zero over time. At the end of a mean free path the fractional change in momentum of a (...) particle in a gas is very small. However, at the end of the mean free path each particle undergoes an interaction that magnifies the preceding change, and the net result is that the momentum distribution of the particles in a gas is randomized in a few collision times. In this way the random action of vacuum radiation and its subsequent magnification by molecular interaction produces entropy increase. This process justifies the assumption of molecular chaos used in the Boltzmann transport equation. (shrink)
Doubts about the origin of Bentham's formula, ‘the greatest happiness of the greatest number’, were resolved by Robert Shackleton thirty years ago. Uncertainty has persisted on at least two points. (1) Why did the phrase largely disappear from Bentham's writing for three or four decades after its appearance in 1776? (2) Is it correct to argue (with David Lyons in 1973) that Bentham's principle is to be differentially interpreted as having sometimes a ‘parochial’ and sometimes a ‘universalist’ bearing? These issues (...) are reopened here with particular reference to textual evidence overlooked in earlier discussions and contextual evidence on the development of Bentham's radicalism in the last two decades of his life. In conclusion some broader issues are raised concerning the character of Bentham's understanding of ‘happiness’ itself. (shrink)
The full range of Bentham's engagement with Blackstone's view of law is beyond the scope of a single article. Yet it is important to recognize at the outset, even in a more restricted enquiry into the matter, that the engagement, begun when Bentham, not quite sixteen years of age, started to attend Blackstone's Oxford lectures, was indeed a lifelong affair. Whatever Bentham had in mind when, at the age of eighty, in 1828, he began to write a work entitled ‘A (...) familar view of Blackstone: or say Blackstone familiarized’, the manuscripts at least suffice to prove that ‘Our Author’ was still in the forefront of his mind at that octogenarian but still indefatigably active stage of his career. Every aspect of Bentham's multifarious intellectual activity over the intervening decades had been touched in some measure by his response to Blackstone's ideas. It still seems true to say what was said a dozen years ago: It would be an exaggeration to say that Bentham elaborated his own conception of law by way of a constant and conscious dialectic with the views of Blackstone. But it would be an exaggeration for which the evidence would afford some excuse. (shrink)
Augustine distinguished apparent evil, conflict and corruption among bodies from true evil, the self-initiated corruption of created spirits. Angels and humans fail to maintain the perfection of knowledge and love given by God and then turn to themselves as the focus of attention and appreciation. The original failures of both demons and humans were neither provoked nor persuaded by any outside bodily or spiritual force: each was an autonomous and self-initiated sin of pride. This fundamental evil underlies and gives rise (...) to every other sin among humans and angels. (shrink)
A new event is defined as an intervention in the time reversible dynamical trajectories of particles in a system. New events are then assumed to be quantum fluctuations in the spatial and momentum coordinates, and mental action is assumed to work by ordering such fluctuations. It is shown that when the cumulative values of such fluctuations in a mean free path of a molecule are magnified by molecular interaction at the end of that path, the momentum of a molecule can (...) be changed from its original direction to any other direction. In this way mental action can produce effects through the ordering of thermal motions. Examples are given which show that the ordering of 10^4 10^5 molecules is sufficient to (a) produce detectible PK results and (b) open sufficient ion channels in the brain to initiate a physical action. The relationship of the above model to the arrow of time is discussed. (shrink)
It is shown that if mental influence can change a position or momentum coordinate within the limits of the uncertainty principle, such change, when magnified by a single interaction, is sufficient to order the direction of traveling molecules. Mental influence could initiate an action potential in the brain through this process by using the impact of ordered molecules to open the gates of sodium channels in neuronal membranes. It is shown that about 80 ordered molecules, traveling at thermal velocity in (...) the intercellular medium in the brain, can break an ionic or covalent bond, and that the number needed to initiate an action potential is relatively small. If mental influence can act within the brain, it is reasonable to suppose it can act to some extent outside of it. If mental influence could not only order the direction of individual molecules, but coordinate this effect to produce a longitudinal pressure wave which is reasonably coherent across a macroscopic surface, only 10^4 molecules need be simultaneously affected to produce a detectible sound wave. Such an effect is not ordinarily observed, which suggests that if mental influence acts by ordering the direction of molecules, it acts at the level of individual molecules, but does not coordinate their motion. (shrink)
This essay examines the relationship between the novelist/philosopher Ayn Rand (TheFountainhead,AtlasShrugged) and the broader conservative movement in the twentieth-century United States. Although Rand was often dismissed as a lightweight popularizer, her works of radical individualism advanced bold arguments about the moral status of capitalism, and thus touched upon a core issue of conservative identity. Because Rand represented such a forthright pro-capitalist position, her career highlights the shifting fortunes of capitalism on the right. In the 1940s, she was an inspiration to (...) those who struggled against the New Deal and hoped to bring about a new, market-friendly political order. As a second generation of conservatives built upon these sentiments and attempted to tie them to a defense of Christian tradition, Rand's status began to erode. Yet by the late 1960s, Rand's once-revolutionary defense of capitalism had become routine, although she herself remained a controversial figure. The essay traces the ways in which Rand's ideas were assimilated and modified by key intellectuals on the right, including William F. Buckley, Jr, Whittaker Chambers, and Gary Wills. It identifies the relationship between capitalism and Christianity as a fundamental dilemma for conservative and right-wing thinkers. By treating Rand as an intellectual and cultural leader of significant import, the essay broadens our understanding of the American right beyond the confines of conservatism, and re-establishes the primacy of the 1930s, and 1940s, to its ideological formation. Responding to a paucity of scholarship on Rand, the essay offers an analysis and summary of Rand's ideas, and argues that despite her outsider status, Rand's work both embodied and shaped fundamental themes of right-wing thought throughout the century. (shrink)
[opening paragraph]: Walter Freeman discusses with Jean Burns some of the issues relating to consciousness in his recent book. Burns: To understand consciousness we need know its relationship to the brain, and to do that we need to know how the brain processes information. A lot of people think of brain processing in terms of individual neurons, and you're saying that brain processing should be understood in terms of dynamical states of populations?
The concept of free will is central to our lives, as we make day-to-day decisions, and to our culture, in our ethical and legal systems. The very concept implies that what we choose can produce a change in our physical environment, whether by pressing a switch to turn out electric lights or choosing a long-term plan of action which can affect many people. Yet volition is not a part of presently known physical laws and it is not even known whether (...) it exists -- no physics experiments have ever established its presence. The purpose of this article is to make two points: first, that free will cannot be accounted for by presently known physical laws and second, that if free will exists, any description of its effects in the physical world would necessarily constitute a radical addition to presently known physical laws. (shrink)
The 'History of the Majority' to which F.W. Maitland looked forward a century ago still awaits its author; but some important hints can be derived from an examination of, especially, medieval and early-modern sources. These show how difficult it was foRA 'simple' or numerical majority principle to gain acceptance, whether in the theology and canon-law of the medieval church or in the emergent theory and practice of the modern state. Even -- or perhaps especially -- in the age of 'mass (...) democracy', it has been found, or thought, necessary to plant precautionary hedges around the principle that 'every one should count for one and no one for more than one'. (shrink)
Recent models of consciousness are reviewed which explore the relationship of consciousness to physical laws; many of these also explore the relationship of consciousness to biological findings. Issues investigated by these models are discussed, with the issues framed in a general way in order to provide a comparison between the models. In Part I the issues discussed are: (1) What is the causal relationship between consciousness and the physical world (physicalism, dualism, etc.)? and (2) What physical characteristics are associated with (...) the interface between brain/physical world and consciousness? (shrink)
Bentham was convinced throughout his adult life that law reform in both theory and practice was his vocation. As a deliberately briefless barrister he set out in the early 1770s to establish jurisprudence on the principle of utility. From the first, however, he was repeatedly diverted from this central task. Confronted by the authority of Blackstone, he wrote, without completing, his Comment on the Commentaries, and turned within that context to the specific theme of his Fragment on Government (1776). In (...) the later 1770s he took up the subject of punishment as his principal theme (dealing with an immediate problem in his 1778 View of the Hard-Labour Bill). His Theory of Punishment was projected as his contribution to the sires, in which he would stand beside Hume, HelvCode still incomplete when the French Revolution took Bentham's attention elsewhere. (shrink)
Augustine’s two-stage explanation of the creation of the universe provided a basis for understanding the divine operations that activated the potentialities of angels and humans by which they attained stable beatitude. God caused their activities of knowing and loving rather than endowing them with natural capacities for the divine. In this context, Augustine’s analysis of the success of the angels as well as the failure of the demons and the first humans clarified the limits of the agency of spiritual creatures (...) and specified the occurrence of sin as its defective exercise. Against this background, he distinguished the divine operations that moved and sustained Christians in faith and charity from the divine governance that insured the fidelity of the elect at the end of their lives and thus brought them to salvation. At the same time, he distinguished the final beatitude that made the angels and saints incapable of failure from the gifts of both charity and perseverance. Preserving the elect did not require a strengthening or expansion of the internal gifts attributed to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Thus, the agency of the elect living under the gift of perseverance was distinguished from that of Christians who failed to reach salvation only by its success. (shrink)
Recent models of consciousness are reviewed which explore the relationship of consciousness to physical laws; many of these also explore the relationship of consciousness to biological findings. Issues investigated by these models are discussed, with the issues framed in a general way in order to provide a comparison between the models. In Part II the issues discussed include: Does all of the information content of consciousness correspond to neural coding in the brain? Does consciousness follow the brain passively, or can (...) it act independently? Is independent processing by consciousness compatible with the second law of thermodynamics? (shrink)
One of the earliest and best-known of Bentham's works, the Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation sets out a profound and innovative philosophical argument. This definitive edition includes both the late H. L. A. Hart's classic essay on the work and a new introduction by F. Rosen.
It is not known whether consciousness can affect the physical world, as a result of a free will action or in some other way. To do so, it must be able to produce physical changes that cannot be accounted for by physical laws, an ability we will refer to as causal action, and several issues relevant to this possibility are discussed. 1) Until recently it was thought that the conservation laws of physics would prohibit causal action. It has now been (...) found that such is not the case, but other problems remain. 2) Observations of brain activity show that most of the process for determining a decision is done by the brain. However, the question of whether the final determination is done by mind or the brain is still open. The issue then arises that given the large amount of processing the brain can do, why would mind do this final step and if it does, why would the amount done by mind be so small? (shrink)
It is assumed that mental action, such as free will, exists, and an exploration is made of its relationship to the brain, physical laws, and evolutionary selection. If the assumption is made that all content of conscious experience is encoded in the brain, it follows that free will must act as process only. This result is consistent with the experimental results of Libet and others that if free will exists, it must act by making a selection between alternatives provided by (...) the brain. Also, proposals for some additional actions of consciousness, besides free will, are reviewed. The use of mental action by consciousness is not in accord with presently known physics, in which physical changes are either deterministic or random, and an extension would have to be made to known physics to account for physical changes produced by such an action. However, such an extension could be fairly simple in overview, such as the assumption that consciousness can produce the ordering of randomness. Examples of several such theories are given. If consciousness can make selections among programs in the brain/nervous system, and thereby contribute to the formation of behavior, less programming would be needed, especially in situations affected by a variety of types of factors. For this reason consciousness might be present early in the evolutionary line for animals that explore new territory. Emotions and cognitive ability, even though determined by the brain, could be viewed as “choice guiders,” and for this reason their presence in an animal would indicate the presence of consciousness. (shrink)