Nobilitas is a study of the history of aristocratic philosophy from ancient Greece to the early twentieth century that aims at providing an alternative to the liberal democratic norms, which are propagated today as the only viable socio-political system for the world community. Jacob reveals that, contrary to popular belief, the social and cultural development of European civilization has, for twenty-five centuries, been based not on democratic or communist notions but, rather on aristocratic and nationalist notions. Beginning with the (...) political philosophies of Plato and Aristotle, and continuing through Renaissance and Baroque aristocratic philosophers, the German Idealists, and English and Italian nationalists, the study ends with the transformation of aristocratic philosophy in nineteenth century Germany into racist elitism. As such, the study includes a survey of the philosophical bases of racism and anti-Semitism. These topics have been systematically excluded from academic and political debate since the end of the last Great War. This study is a pioneering work in understanding and changing political ideologies. (shrink)
According to an influential view, one function of mirror neurons (MNs), first discovered in the brain of monkeys, is to underlie third-person mindreading. This view relies on two assumptions: the activity of MNs in an observer’s brain matches (simulates or resonates with) that of MNs in an agent’s brain and this resonance process retrodictively generates a representation of the agent’s intention from a perception of her movement. In this paper, I criticize both assumptions and I argue instead that the activity (...) of MNs in an observer’s brain is enhanced by a prior representation of the agent’s intention and that their task is to predictively compute the best motor command suitable to satisfy the agent’s intention. (shrink)
Working memory limits are best defined in terms of the complexity of the relations that can be processed in parallel. Complexity is defined as the number of related dimensions or sources of variation. A unary relation has one argument and one source of variation; its argument can be instantiated in only one way at a time. A binary relation has two arguments, two sources of variation, and two instantiations, and so on. Dimensionality is related to the number of chunks, because (...) both attributes on dimensions and chunks are independent units of information of arbitrary size. Studies of working memory limits suggest that there is a soft limit corresponding to the parallel processing of one quaternary relation. More complex concepts are processed by or In segmentation, tasks are broken into components that do not exceed processing capacity and can be processed serially. In conceptual chunking, representations are to reduce their dimensionality and hence their processing load, but at the cost of making some relational information inaccessible. Neural net models of relational representations show that relations with more arguments have a higher computational cost that coincides with experimental findings on higher processing loads in humans. Relational complexity is related to processing load in reasoning and sentence comprehension and can distinguish between the capacities of higher species. The complexity of relations processed by children increases with age. Implications for neural net models and theories of cognition and cognitive development are discussed. (shrink)
The tuning-fork model of human social cognition, based on the discovery of mirror neurons (MNs) in the ventral premotor cortex of monkeys, involves the four following assumptions: (1) mirroring processes are processes of resonance or simulation. (2) They can be motor or non-motor. (3) Processes of motor mirroring (or action-mirroring), exemplified by the activity of MNs, constitute instances of third-person mindreading, whereby an observer represents the agent's intention. (4) Non-motor mirroring processes enable humans to represent others' emotions. After questioning all (...) four assumptions, I point out that MNs in an observer's brain could not synchronically resonate with MNs in an agent's brain unless they discharged in a single brain in two distinct tasks at different times. Finally, I sketch a conceptualist alternative to the resonance model according to which a brain mechanism active in both the execution and the perception of e.g., the act of grasping is the neural basis of the concept of e.g., grasping. (shrink)
The core issue of our target article concerns how relational complexity should be assessed. We propose that assessments must be based on actual cognitive processes used in performing each step of a task. Complexity comparisons are important for the orderly interpretation of research findings. The links between relational complexity theory and several other formulations, as well as its implications for neural functioning, connectionist models, the roles of knowledge, and individual and developmental differences, are considered.
Alva Noë’s version of the enactive conception in _Action in Perception_ is an important contribution to the study of visual perception. First, I argue, however, that it is unclear (at best) whether, as the enactivists claim, work on change blindness supports the denial of the existence of detailed visual representations. Second, I elaborate on what Noë calls the ‘puzzle of perceptual presence’. Thirdly, I question the enactivist account of perceptual constancy. Finally, I draw attention to the tensions between enactivism and (...) two trends in cognitive neuroscience: the two-visual systems model of human vision and the theory of internal forward models of action. (shrink)
Intentionality is the power of minds to be about, to represent, or to stand for, things, properties and states of affairs. The puzzles of intentionality lie at the interface between the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of language. The word itself, which is of medieval Scholastic origin, was rehabilitated by the philosopher Franz Brentano towards the end of the nineteenth century. ‘Intentionality’ is a philosopher's word. It derives from the Latin word intentio, which in turn derives from the verb (...) intendere, which means being directed towards some goal or thing. The entry falls into eleven sections. (shrink)
We use psychological concepts (e.g., intention and desire) when we ascribe psychological states to others for purposes of describing, explaining, and predicting their actions. Does the evidence reported by Knobe show, as he thinks, that moral evaluation shapes our mastery of psychological concepts? We argue that the evidence so far shows instead that moral evaluation shapes the way we report, not the way we think about, others' psychological states.
I examine and discuss Jaegwon Kim's arguments against non-reductive physicalism in his book, Mind in a Physical World. I first examine the supervenience argument and then the multiple realization argument. Finally, I raise some questions about Kim's overall attitude towards mental realism, i.e., realism about mental properties.
The new prominence given to science for economic growth and industry comes with an increased policy focus on the promotion of commodification and commercialization of academic science. This paper posits that this increased interest in commodification is a new steering mechanism for governing science. This is achieved by first outlining what is meant by the commodification of scientific knowledge through reviewing a selection of literatures on the concept of commodification. The paper concludes with a discussion of how commodification functions as (...) a means for governing science. (shrink)
An application of the Method of Analysis of Relational Complexity (MARC) to suppositional reasoning in the knight-knave task is outlined. The task requires testing suppositions derived from statements made by individuals who either always tell the truth or always lie. Relational complexity (RC) is defined as the number of unique entities that need to be processed in parallel to arrive at a solution. A selection of five ternary and five quaternary items were presented to 53 psychology students using a pencil (...) and paper format. A computer-administered version was presented to 50 students. As predicted, quaternary problems were associated with higher error rates and longer response times than ternary problems. The computer-administered form was more difficult than the pencil and paper version of the test. These differences are discussed in terms of RC theory and alternative processing accounts. Together, they indicate that the relational complexity metric is a useful and parsimonious way to quantify complexity of reasoning tasks. (shrink)
Current conceptions of the nature of human reasoning make it no longer tenable to assess children's inference by reference to the norms of logical inference. Alternatively, the complexity of the mental models employed in children's inferences can be analysed. This approach is applied to transitive inference, class inclusion, categorical induction, theory of mind, oddity, categorical syllogisms, analogy, and reasoning deficits. It is argued that a coherent account of children's reasoning emerges in that there is correspondence between tasks at the same (...) level of complexity across different domains, and that the inferences of younger children, while impressive and important, are consistently simpler than those of older children. (shrink)
As more and more historians acknowledge the central signifcance of science and technology with that of modern society, the need for a good, general history of the achievements of the Scientific Revolution has grown. Scientific Culture and The Making of the Industrial West seeks to explain this historical process by looking at how and why scientific knowledge became such an integral part of the culture of Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and how this in turn lead to the (...) Industrial Revolution. This comparative study not only looks at England, and its success, but follows through with the history of France, the Netherlands, and Germany. (shrink)
At root, the systematicity debate over classical versus connectionist explanations for cognitive architecture turns on quantifying the degree to which human cognition is systematic. We introduce into the debate recent psychological data that provides strong support for the purely structure-based generalizations claimed by Fodor and Pylyshyn (1988). We then show, via simulation, that two widely used connectionist models (feedforward and simple recurrent networks) do not capture the same degree of generalization as human subjects. However, we show that this limitation is (...) overcome by tensor networks that support relational processing. (shrink)
First, I argue that the narrow content of a thought cannot be identical with the linguistic meaning of the sentence used to express it. Secondly, I argue that the distinction between narrow content and linguistic meaning is not fatal to content-dualism. Thirdly I argue for the view that the proposition contributed by the clause prefixed by "that" is an interpretation of the believer's thought. Finally, I use this insight to provide an individualist account of Burge's thought-experiments such that recognition that (...) the truth-conditions of belief-ascriptions include aspects of the believer's environment does not entail that those environmental aspects are thereby parts of the contents of the person's thoughts. (shrink)
Bayesian rationality is an important contribution to syllogistic inference, but it has limitations. The claim that confidence in a conclusion is a function of informativeness of the max-premise is anomalous because this is the least probable premise. A more plausible account is that confidence is inversely related to complexity. Bayesian rationality should be supplemented with principles based on cognitive complexity.
There are presently three broad approaches the project of naturalizing intentionality: a purely informational approach (Dretske and Fodor), a purely teleological approach (Millikan and Papineau), and a mixed informationally-based teleological approach (Dretske again). I will argue that the last teleosemantic theory offers the most promising approach. I also think, however, that the most explicit version of a pure teleosemantic theory of content, namely Millikan’s admirable theory, faces a pair of objections. My goal in this paper is to spell out Millikan’s (...) pure teleosemantic theory; then to present two objections; and finally to ask the question whether a teleosemantic framework can be saved from the objections. (shrink)
Dretske has argued that, unlike the content of beliefs and desires, the contents of innate representations cannot in principle play a role in the causal explanation of an individual's behavior. I examine this "asymmetry" and against it, I argue that the content of innate mental representations too can play a causal role in the explanation of behavior.
We propose that the missing link from nonhuman to human cognition lies with our ability to form, modify, and re-form dynamic bindings between internal representations of world-states. This capacity goes beyond dynamic feature binding in perception and involves a new conception of working memory. We propose two tests for structured knowledge that might alleviate the impasse in empirical research in nonhuman animal cognition.
Jerry Fodor argued for an account of belief attribution very close to the theory of direct reference. I argue that his account conflicts with constraints on psychological explanation which he ought to accept.