Mind Ecologies: Body, Brain, and World: Book Abstract from Columbian University Press -/- Matthew Crippen and Jay Schulkin -/- Pragmatism, a pluralistic philosophy with kinships to phenomenology, Gestalt psychology and embodied cognitive science, is resurging across disciplines. It has growing relevance to literary studies, the arts, and religious scholarship, along with branches of political theory, not to mention our understanding of science. But philosophies and sciences of mind have lagged behind this pragmatic turn, for the most part retaining a central-nervous-system (...) orientation, which pragmatists rejected as far too narrow. -/- Matthew Crippen, a biologically orientated philosopher of mind, and Jay Schulkin, a pioneer in neuroscience, offer an innovative interdisciplinary theory of mind. They argue that pragmatism in combination with phenomenology is not only able to give an unusually persuasive rendering of how we think, feel, experience, and act in the world but also the account most consistent with evidence from cognitive science and neurobiology. Crippen and Schulkin contend that cognition, emotion, and perception are incomplete without action, and in action they fuse together. Not only are we embodied subjects whose thoughts, emotions, and capacities comprise one integrated system; we are living ecologies inseparable from our surroundings, our cultures, and our world. Ranging from social coordination to the role of gut bacteria and visceral organs in mental activity, and touching upon fields such as robotics, artificial intelligence, and plant cognition, Crippen and Schulkin stress the role of aesthetics, emotions, interests, and moods in the ongoing enactment of experience. Synthesizing philosophy, neurobiology, psychology, and the history of science, Mind Ecologies offers a broad and deep exploration of evidence for the embodied, embedded, enacted, and extended nature of mind. (shrink)
Although we usually identify our abilities to reason, to adapt to situations, and to solve problems with the mind, recent research has shown that we should not, in fact, detach these abilities from the body. This work provides an integrative framework for understanding how these abilities are affected by visceral reactions. Schulkin presents provocative neuroscientific research demonstrating that thought is not on one side and bodily sensibility on the other; from a biological point of view, they are integrated. Schulkin further (...) argues that this integration has important implications for judgements about art and music, moral sensibilities, attraction and revulsion, and our perpetual inclination to explain ourselves and our surroundings. (shrink)
Two philosophical traditions with much in common, (classical) pragmatism and (Heidegger's) hermeneutic philosophy, are here\ncompared with respect to their approach to the philosophy of science. Both emphasize action as a mode of interpreting experience.\nBoth have developed important categories – inquiry, meaning, theory, praxis, coping, historicity, life-world – and each has\noffered an alternative to the more traditional philosophies of science stemming from Descartes, Hume, and Comte. Pragmatism's\nabduction works with the dual perspectives of theory (as explanation) and praxis (as culture). The hermeneutical (...) circle depends\nin addition on the lifeworld as background source of ontological meaning and resource for strategies of inquiry. Thus a hermeneutical\nphilosophy of research involves three components: lifeworld (as ontological and strategic), theory (as explanatory), and praxis\n(as constitutive of culture). (shrink)
Foraging for coherence is a pragmatist philosophy of the brain. It is a philosophy anchored to objects and instrumental in understanding the brain. Our age is dominated by neuroscience. A critical common sense underlies inquiry including that of neuroscience. Thus a pragmatist orientation to neuroscience is about foraging for coherence; not overselling neuroscience. Foraging for coherence is the search for adaptation – diverse epistemic orientation tied ideally to learning about oneself, one’s nature, and one’s history in the context of learning (...) about the brain. Neuroscience is about us: Our desires, habits, styles of reason, human vulnerability, and abuse. The language of the neuron, or the gene, or the systems does not replace the discussion about us as the person, in the social and historical context. (shrink)
In this paper we attempt to reconcile two important, current intellectual traditions: Darwinism and social constructionism. We believe that these two schools have important points of contact that have been obscured because each school has feared that the other wanted to put it out of business. We try to show that both traditions have much to of offer psychology, a discipline that has often been too individualistic, too concerned with the private and the subjective. The spirit of American pragmatism can (...) be found in both camps; like the social constructivists, pragmatists focused on social transaction rather than internal happening, and like the Darwinian they were rooted in functionalism and the biological. (shrink)
Naturalism and_Pragmatism offers reflections on the pragmatic tradition from a fresh perspective: that of a working neuroscientist. Though naturalism and evolution are not the only topics of discussions, they are important themes of the book. Both pragmatism and modern behavioural science grew up in the wake of Darwin's theory of evolution. Indeed it is impossible to imagine either without evolutionary theory and the more general nineteenth-century trend of naturalism from which modern evolutionary theory emerged. And yet, for a variety of (...) reasons, these common origins have not ensured a close affinity between pragmatic philosophy and the behavioural sciences. Among the wide diversity of scientific theories of human cognition and its evolutionary origins, only a few are congenial to pragmatism in its original or 'classical' form, which embraces the full range of human experience. Thus this book presents not only a scientist's take on the pragmatic tradition, but also a pragmatist's take on the evolution of the human problem solving. (shrink)
CS Peirce introduced the concept of abduction into our epistemic lexicon. It is a view of problem solving that emphasizes ecological contexts, preparatory or predictive predilection knotted to learning and inquiry. Abduction is essentially tied more broadly to pragmatism. One view of the brain reflects the fact that predictive predilections knotted to abduction or hypothesis testing dominates the landscape of diverse forms of problem solving. Abduction is biologically constrained and contextual, not a monolithic term and runs the range of neural (...) capability. (shrink)
Fairness is a normative ideal that runs through sports. After all, what defines our cultural evolution in general is a conception of morality, whether thought of in the context of the state, tribe, team, or individual. Human dignity is also one of the important features of sport. Sport is reality for the better part of our nature. We find inspiration for the meaning of life in sport; dignity, social contact, rising to show the “better angel” overcoming adversity, managing defeat, the (...) wondrous sense of well-earned and arduous victory, graciousness toward others in their defeat. While human dignity and solidarity are particularly expressed in the context of the Special Olympics, adaptation, well-being, and the role of sport are important elements in the context of all sporting events. Sport remains timeless while being a lifelong activity for many. (shrink)
Humans come prepared to recognize two fundamental features of our surroundings: animate objects and agents. This recognition begins early in ontogeny and pervades our ecological and social space. This cognitive capacity reveals an important adaptation and sets the conditions for pervasive shared experiences. One feature of our species and our evolved cephalic substrates is that we are prepared to recognize self-propelled action in others. Our cultural evolution is knotted to an expanding sense of shared experiences.
Empathy represents one of the basic forms of human expression. Empathy evolved to facilitate social behavior. The perception action model, extended to empathy, is an exciting paradigm in which to undertake contemporary cognitive and comparative neuroscience. It renders the perception of events as an active affair, both when watching others, and when performing actions.
This book explores the cultures of philosophy and the law as they interact with neuroscience and biology, through the perspective of American jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes’ Jr., and the pragmatist tradition of John Dewey. Schulkin proposes that human problem solving and the law are tied to a naturalistic, realistic and an anthropological understanding of the human condition. The situated character of legal reasoning, given its complexity, like reasoning in neuroscience, can be notoriously fallible. Legal and scientific reasoning is to be (...) understood within a broader context in order to emphasize both the continuity and the porous relationship between the two. Some facts of neuroscience fit easily into discussions of human experience and the law. However, it is important not to oversell neuroscience: a meeting of law and neuroscience is unlikely to prove persuasive in the courtroom any time soon. Nevertheless, as knowledge of neuroscience becomes more reliable and more easily accepted by both the larger legislative community and in the wider public, through which neuroscience filters into epistemic and judicial reliability, the two will ultimately find themselves in front of a judge. A pragmatist view of neuroscience will aid and underlie these events. (shrink)
The human adventure in education is one of imperfect expression, punctuated by moments of insight. Education cultivates these epiphanies and nurtures their possible continuation. But even without major or minor insights, education cultivates the appreciation of the good, the beautiful, and the true. An experimentalist's sensibility lies amid the humanist's grasp of the myriad ways of trying to understand our existence. To bridge discourse is to appreciate the languages of other cultures, which reveal the nuances of life and experience.
Body representations traverse the whole of the brain. They provide vital sources of information for every facet of an animal’s behavior, and such direct neural connectivity of visceral input throughout the nervous system demonstrates just how strongly cognitive systems are linked to bodily representations. At each level of the neural axis there are visceral appraisal systems that are integral in the organization of action. Cognition is not one side of a divide and viscera the other, with action merely a reflexive (...) outcome. There is no divide between cognition and bodily functions once the brain is involved. Cognitive mechanisms that permeate neural function are a cardinal piece of biological function and adaptation. (shrink)
Earlier views associated cognition with the cortex, and the will with sub-cortical non-cognitive structures. But an emerging perspective is that cognition runs throughout the central nervous sys- tem, including areas typically linked to motor control. It is an important realization that perceptual/effector systems are pregnant with cognitive resources. Staying the course to achieve one 's goals amidst diverse pulls is the primary function of the will. One adaptation is to pre-commit oneself to future recursive actions consistent with one's plans. Diverse (...) brain regions are tied to the conflicts of competing interests that require willpower to persevere towards our longer-term goals. While it is debatable to what extent we are conscious of our willpower and its causal efficacy, the concept of the will is a fundamental category in understanding our mental architecture and a piece of our evolutionary history. (shrink)
The question of why women, in consultation with their physicians, should choose hormone therapy in response to menopause represents a renewed controversy at the beginning of the new century. Conflicting messages regarding the health risks and benefits of HT have been conveyed in the mainstream media, especially information in the media regarding the results of large-scale studies of the health impact of hormone therapy. Women who have been on one or another of the hormone replacement regimes have been forced to (...) reconsider continuing on HT. Doctors who suggest these hormones to their patients are somewhat confused, as are perimenopausal women who are considering HT. Pharmaceutical companies that produce these compounds are worried, and public health officials are on the defensive.Media coverage of HT research has been extensive. In particular, two large-scale studies, one here in the U.S. and the other in Great Britain, have recently cast a negative light on the use of hormone therapy, after years of routine prescription of HT for menopausal women. (shrink)
The decision for women to go on hormone therapy remains controversial. An historical oscillation of beliefs exists related in part to expectations of the medicinal value of HT over longer-term use beyond the initial peri-menonpausal period. Studies thought to resolve issues surrounding the efficacy of HT were perhaps overstated as confusion still permeates the decision making with regard to HT. Overzealous advertising and exaggerated understanding of the results undermine patient and physician decision making. There remains no magic bullet with regard (...) to HT. What remains is still the possibility of HT longer-term efficacy on diverse end organ systems with pockets of clinical and scientific ambiguity while working to engender reasonable expectations. (shrink)
We come prepared to track events and objects, building our knowledge base while foraging for coherence. Classical pragmatism recognizes that the acquisition of knowledge is in part a contact sport. One of the aims of neuroscience is to capture human experience. One route to perhaps achieve this may be through the study of the visual system and its expansion in our evolutionary history. Embodied cephalic systems, as Dewey knew well, are tied to self-corrective inquiry. A philosophy of neuroscience needs to (...) capture how such events are tracked, tested through experience, and subsequently modified in the brain to comprise a knowledge base. (shrink)
Classical pragmatism construed mind as an adaptive organ rooted in biology; biology was not one side and culture on the other. The cognitive systems underlie adaptation in response to the precarious and in the search for the stable and more secure that result in diverse forms of inquiry. Cognitive systems are rooted in action, and classical pragmatism knotted our sense of ourselves in response to nature and our cultural evolution. Cognitive systems should be demythologized away from Cartesian detachment, and towards (...) transactions with others and with nature. (shrink)
ABSTRACT A profound sense of biological explanations and the social nature of our species were appreciated by Chauncey Wright and American classical pragmatists. Inquiry was understood in the context of social cooperation. One achievement in the evolution of cephalic function is the development of social cooperative behaviors, the cornerstone of our cultural productivity. Classical pragmatism is linked to an expanding sense of human capability, tied to the deepening of human experience. While pragmatism is open-ended, the limits of human function put (...) our advances into a perspective in which the evolution of function is just as apparent as the devolution of function. (shrink)
Oliver Wendell Holmes jr was a survivor of the Civil War. Wounded three times and left for dead once, he survived endless pain and death for a war for which he believed more in the beginning of the virtues of the war than he did at the end. But it was this important experience that pervades his long life. And we now know how to think about how trauma turns to memory sculptured onto the brain. Holmes’ emphasized experience in adjudication (...) and context dependent problem solving or inquiry. Yet while he championed freedom, he had a rather limited view towards those for which the war was fought. (shrink)
The moral sentiments adumbrated by Adam Smith and Charles Darwin reflect some of our basic social appraisals of each other. One set of moral appraisals reflects disgust and withdrawal, a form of contempt. Another set of moral appraisals reflects active concern responses, an appreciation of the experiences (sympathy for some- one)of other individuals and approach related behaviors. While no one set of neural structures is designed for only moral appraisals, a diverse set of neural regions that include the gustatory/visceral neural (...) axis, basal ganglia and iverse neocortical sites underlie moral judgment. (shrink)
Shulkin interweaves his dual backgrounds in neurobiological sciences and American pragmatic philosophy to argue that reason is inquiry, an engagement of reality, and can be described in the same terms a scientist uses when conducting and ...