Here Jean-Pierre Changeux elucidates our current knowledge of the human brain, taking an interdisciplinary approach and explaining in layman's terms the complex theories and scientific breakthroughs that have significantly improved our ...
There were three such assumptions required, one explicitly stated, and two not made explicit until Bayle. The explicit one was a certain commonly accepted double understanding of ‘destruction’: a ‘natural’ version, which made it no more than a change in a particular arrangement or ‘organization’ of particles through which an aggregate was destroyed by losing its identity, and a metaphysical version, which entailed the actual annihilation of a substance. It was assumed that the latter could be accomplished only by miraculous (...) supra-natural means available only to God. Thus, if it could be shown that the soul was ‘without parts,’ it followed that the soul was ‘naturally’ indestructible and thus immortal. Bayle summarized the Cartesian argument to immortality as follows. (shrink)
A Study of the History and Philosophy of Category Theory Jean-Pierre Marquis. to say that objects are dispensable in geometry. What is claimed is that the specific nature of the objects used is irrelevant. To use the terminology already ...
Le réalisme scientifique occupe une place centrale dans le système philosophique de Mario Bunge. Au cœur de cette thèse, on trouve l’affirmation selon laquelle nous pouvons connaître le monde partiellement. Il s’ensuit que les théories scientifiques ne sont pas totalement vraies ou totalement fausses, mais plutôt partiellement vraies et partiellement fausses. Ces énoncés sur la connaissance scientifique, à première vue plausible pour quiconque est familier avec la pratique scientifique, demandent néanmoins à être clarifiés, précisés et, ultimement, à être inclus dans (...) un cadre théorique plus large et rigoureux. Depuis ses toutes premières publications sur ces questions et jusqu’à récemment, Mario Bunge n’a cessé d’interpeller les philosophes afin qu’ils développent une théorie, au sens propre du terme, de la vérité partielle afin de clarifier les enjeux épistémologiques liés au réalisme scientifique. Bunge a lui-même proposé plusieurs parties de cette théorie au fil des années, mais aucune de ces propositions ne l’a satisfait pleinement et la construction de cette théorie demeure un problème entier. Dans ce texte, nous passerons rapidement en revue certaines des approches proposées par Bunge dans ses publications et nous esquisserons certaines pistes qui devraient servir à tout le moins de desiderata pour la construction d’une théorie de la vérité partielle. (shrink)
Amidst the many brain events evoked by a visual stimulus, which are specifically associated with conscious perception, and which merely reflect non-conscious processing? Several recent neuroimaging studies have contrasted conscious and non-conscious visual processing, but their results appear inconsistent. Some support a correlation of conscious perception with early occipital events, others with late parieto-frontal activity. Here we attempt to make sense of those dissenting results. On the basis of a minimal neuro-computational model, the global neuronal workspace hypothesis, we propose a (...) taxonomy which distinguishes between vigilance and access to conscious report, as well as between subliminal, preconscious and conscious processing. We suggest that these distinctions map onto different neural mechanisms, and that conscious perception is systematically associated with a sudden surge of parieto-frontal activity causing top-down amplification. (shrink)
If such a thing as nanoethics is possible, it can only develop by confronting the great questions of moral philosophy, thus avoiding the pitfalls so common to regional ethics. We identify and analyze some of these pitfalls: the restriction of ethics to prudence understood as rational risk management; the reduction of ethics to cost/benefit analysis; the confusion of technique with technology and of human nature with the human condition. Once these points have been clarified, it is possible to take up (...) some weighty philosophical and metaphysical questions which are not new, but which need to be raised anew with respect to nanotechnologies: the artificialization of nature; the question of limits; the role of religion; the finiteness of the human condition as something with a beginning and an end; the relationship between knowledge and know-how; the foundations of ethics. (shrink)
A formalism is introduced to represent the connective organization of an evolving neuronal network and the effects of environment on this organization by stabilization or degeneration of labile synapses associated with functioning. Learning, or the acquisition of an associative property, is related to a characteristic variability of the connective organization: the interaction of the environment with the genetic program is printed as a particular pattern of such organization through neuronal functioning. An application of the theory to the development of the (...) neuromuscular junction is proposed and the basic selective aspect of learning emphasized. (shrink)
The emergence and development of convergent technologies for the purpose of improving human performance, including nanotechnology, biotechnology, information sciences, and cognitive science (NBICs), open up new horizons in the debates and moral arguments that must be engaged by philosophers who hope to take seriously the question of the ethical and social acceptability of these technologies. This article advances an analysis of the factors that contribute to confusion and discord on the topic, in order to help in understanding why arguments that (...) form a part of the debate between transhumanism and humanism result in a philosophical and ethical impasse: 1. The lack of clarity that emerges from the fact that any given argument deployed (arguments based on nature and human nature, dignity, the good life) can serve as the basis for both the positive and the negative evaluation of NBICs. 2. The impossibility of providing these arguments with foundations that will enable others to deem them acceptable. 3. The difficulty of applying these same arguments to a specific situation. 4. The ineffectiveness of moral argument in a democratic society. The present effort at communication about the difficulties of the argumentation process is intended as a necessary first step towards developing an interdisciplinary response to those difficulties. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to clarify the role of category theory in the foundations of mathematics. There is a good deal of confusion surrounding this issue. A standard philosophical strategy in the face of a situation of this kind is to draw various distinctions and in this way show that the confusion rests on divergent conceptions of what the foundations of mathematics ought to be. This is the strategy adopted in the present paper. It is divided into 5 (...) sections. We first show that already in the set theoretical framework, there are different dimensions to the expression foundations of. We then explore these dimensions more thoroughly. After a very short discussion of the links between these dimensions, we move to some of the arguments presented for and against category theory in the foundational landscape. We end up on a more speculative note by examining the relationships between category theory and set theory. (shrink)
In this paper, I introduce the idea that some important parts of contemporary pure mathematics are moving away from what I call the extensional point of view. More specifically, these fields are based on criteria of identity that are not extensional. After presenting a few cases, I concentrate on homotopy theory where the situation is particularly clear. Moreover, homotopy types are arguably fundamental entities of geometry, thus of a large portion of mathematics, and potentially to all mathematics, at least according (...) to some speculative research programs. (shrink)
This paper first queries what type of concept of emergence, if any, could be connected with the different chemical activities subsumed under the label ‘quantum chemistry’. In line with Roald Hoffmann, we propose a ‘rotation to research laboratory’ in order to point out how practitioners hold a molecular whole, its parts, and the surroundings together within their various methods when exploring chemical transformation. We then identify some requisite contents that a concept of emergence must incorporate in order to be coherent (...) from the standpoint of the scientific practices involved. In this respect, we finally propose a relational form of emergence which pays attention to the constitutive role of the modes of intervention and to the co-definition of the levels of organization. No metaphysical distinction between the higher and basic levels of organization is supposed, but only a plurality of modes of access. Moreover, these modes of access are not construed as mere ways of revealing intrinsic patterns of organization but, on the contrary, are considered to be active elements on which the constitution of those patterns depends. What is at stake in this paper is therefore not an ontological form of emergence but an agnostic one which fits what chemists do in their daily work. (shrink)
Starting from a nonlinear relativistic Klein-Gordon equation derived from the stochastic interpretation of quantum mechanics (proposed by Bohm-Vigier, (1) Nelson, (2) de Broglie, (3) Guerra et al. (4) ), one can construct joint wave and particle, soliton-like solutions, which follow the average de Broglie-Bohm (5) real trajectories associated with linear solutions of the usual Schrödinger and Klein-Gordon equations.
Mulliken proposed an Aufbauprinzip for the molecules on the basis of molecular spectroscopy while establishing, point by point, his concept of molecular orbit. It is the concept of electronic state which becomes the lever for his attribution of electronic configurations to a molecule. In 1932, the concept of orbit was transmuted into that of the molecular orbital to integrate the probabilistic approach of Born and to achieve quantitative accuracy. On the basis of the quantum works of Hund, Wigner, Lennard-Jones and (...) group theory, he suggested the fragment method to establish the characteristics of molecular orbital for polyatomic molecules. These developments make it possible to bring elements of thought on the relation between a molecular whole and its parts . An operational realism combined with the second law of thermodynamics can pave the way for interesting tracks in the mereological study of chemical systems. (shrink)
In an age of nationalisation of international educational policy, or vice versa, the politics and conflicts behind such policies often take centre stage to the detriment of professional expertise. In response, this article develops a nuanced critical realism to propose a practice-based development and implementation of educational policy reforms. Based on empirical reports of head teachers’ subversive practice, the article concludes by highlighting that professional expertise is a central component, dubbed ‘formless capability’, that all stakeholders use to turn policy intentions (...) into policy actions. Actuality consists of the three traditional domains of critical realism – the real, the actual and the empirical – whose importance is derived from whether it is a means to or an end in itself. It is argued here that empirical experiences of leading schools are the stage of actuality that is directly... (shrink)
Building on the storytelling, political storytelling, and religious storytelling literatures, I examined the role religious stories play in the formation of revolutionary convictions. This study’s primary sources of data are volumes I, II, and III of The Gospel in Solentiname, a historical record of religious discussions that took place in an isolated campesino community at a seminary-like setting under a growing national revolutionary scenario in 1970s Nicaragua. My analysis of these discussions reveals that religious discourse based on stories of prophecy, (...) Christian virtue, miracles, and social challenges to revolutionary action allowed story-users to assert, explore, and promote models of action and moral orientation consistent with the making of revolution. (shrink)
The five narratives identified by the DEEPEN-project are interpreted in terms of the ancient story of desire, evil, and the sacred, and the modern narratives of alienation and exploitation. The first three narratives of lay ethics do not take stock of what has radically changed in the modern world under the triple and joint evolution of science, religion, and philosophy. The modern narratives, in turn, are in serious need of a post-modern deconstruction. Both critiques express the limits of humanism. They (...) do not imply, however, that these narratives should not be taken seriously. In particular, the enduring presence of three ancient narratives in laypeople’s symbolic thought is highly significant in terms of the role that the logic of the sacred keeps playing in the workings of modern societies. Lay people’s implicit understanding of how modern technology tends towards catastrophe and apocalypse provides the strongest argument for taking these narratives seriously. (shrink)
In this paper, we try to establish that some mathematical theories, like K-theory, homology, cohomology, homotopy theories, spectral sequences, modern Galois theory (in its various applications), representation theory and character theory, etc., should be thought of as (abstract) machines in the same way that there are (concrete) machines in the natural sciences. If this is correct, then many epistemological and ontological issues in the philosophy of mathematics are seen in a different light. We concentrate on one problem which immediately follows (...) the recognition of the particular status of these theories: the demarcation problem between ‘natural kinds’ and ‘artefacts’. (shrink)
It is commonly assumed across the language sciences that some semantic participant information is lexically encoded in the representation of verbs and some is not. In this paper, we propose that semantic obligatoriness and verb class specificity are criteria which influence whether semantic information is lexically encoded. We present a comprehensive survey of the English verbal lexicon, a sentence continuation study, and an on-line sentence processing study which confirm that both factors play a role in the lexical encoding of participant (...) information. (shrink)
The “Neuronal man”, as Changeux has called him, is now credited with an aesthetic mind. This mind is not the “Geist” of the philosophical tradition. The cognitive sciences have took over from philosophy and now they deal with art and aesthetics as they do with whatever aspect of human thought, experience and activity. Philosophers like Kant were interested in the empirical sources of beauty, but for him empirical features of its development did not change anything at all to its very (...) essence. The naturalism implemented in the philosophy of mind and sciences of cognition has changed the terms of the question, so that the main point in discussion is whether aesthetic experience can be explained in terms of brain and/or computational process or whether it should be considered as irreductible to empirical or physical facts. These debates can be seen as new and interesting, but they drive directly to an aporia reminding in a certain way the old debate between the "Sons of the ground" and the "Friends of ideas". (shrink)
In this paper, following the claims made by various mathematicians, I try to construct a theory of levels of abstraction. I first try to clarify the basic components of the abstract method as it developed in the first quarter of the 20th century. I then submit an explication of the notion of levels of abstraction. In the final section, I briefly explore some of main philosophical consequences of the theory.
Anselm of Cantorbery wrote Proslogion, where is formulated the famous ‘Unum argumentum’ about the existence of God. This argument was been disputed and criticized by numerous logicians from an extensional view point. The classical predicate logic is not able to give a formal frame to develop an adequate analysis of this argument. According to us, this argument is not an ontological proof; it analyses the meaning of the “quo nihil maius cogitari posit”, a characterization of God, and establish, by absurd, (...) that “quod non posit cogitare non esse” by using the hypothesis: “to think in re” is taller than “to think in solo intelectu”. We discuss this relation and the difference between the meanings of the elementary predicates ‘to be in re’, ‘to be in intellectu’ and ‘to be in solo intellectu’. We propose a new logical approach of this ‘Unum argumentum’ of Anselm by using Curry’s Combinatory Logic. Indeed, Combinatory Logic is an abstract applicative formalism of operators applied to operands; in this formalism, the predicates, viewed as specific operators, can be composed and can be transformed, by an intrinsic way, into more complex predicates, by means of abstract operators, called “combinators”, studied by Combinatory Logic. We show that this formalism is a logical frame where it becomes possible to discuss and to formulate cognitive representations of the meanings of predicates used inside of the ‘Unum argumentum’ and to explain how the argument runs. (shrink)