This article responds to two unresolved and crucial problems of cognitive science: (1) What is actually accomplished by functions of the nervous system that we ordinarily describe in the intentional idiom? and (2) What makes the information processing involved in these functions semantic? It is argued that, contrary to the assumptions of many cognitive theorists, the computational approach does not provide coherent answers to these problems, and that a more promising start would be to fall back on mathematical communication theory (...) and, with the help of evolutionary biology and neurophysiology, to attempt a characterization of the adaptive processes involved in visual perception. Visual representations are explained as patterns of cortical activity that are enabled to focus on objects in the changing visual environment by constantly adjusting to maintain levels of mutual information between pattern and object that are adequate for continuing perceptual control. In these terms, the answer proposed to (1) is that the intentional functions of vision are those involved in the establishment and maintenance of such representations, and to (2) that semantic features are added to the information processes of vision with the focus on objects that these representations accomplish. The article concludes with proposals for extending this account of intentionality to the higher domains of conceptualization and reason, and with speculation about how semantic information-processing might be achieved in mechanical systems. (shrink)
This book, published in 1976, presents an entirely original approach to the subject of the mind-body problem, examining it in terms of the conceptual links between the physical sciences and the sciences of human behaviour. It is based on the cybernetic concepts of information and feedback and on the related concepts of thermodynamic and communication-theoretic entropy. The foundation of the approach is the theme of continuity between evolution, learning and human consciousness. The author defines life as a process of energy (...) exchange between organism and environment, and evolution as a feedback process maintaining equilibrium between environment and reproductive group. He demonstrates that closely related feedback processes on the levels of the behaving organism and of the organism’s nervous system constitute the phenomena of learning and consciousness respectively. He analyses language as an expedient for extending human information-processing and control capacities beyond those provided by one’s own nervous system, and shows reason to be a mode of processing information in the form of concepts removed from immediate stimulus control. The last chapter touches on colour vision, pleasure and pain, intentionality, self-awareness and other subjective phenomena. Of special interest to the communication theorist and philosopher, this study is also of interest to psychologists and anyone interested in the connection between the physical and life sciences. (shrink)
At the beginning of his Metaphysics, Aristotle attributed several strange-sounding theses to Plato. Generations of Plato scholars have assumed that these could not be found in the dialogues. In heated arguments, they have debated the significance of these claims, some arguing that they constituted an 'unwritten teaching' and others maintaining that Aristotle was mistaken in attributing them to Plato. In a prior book-length study on Plato's late ontology, Kenneth M. Sayre demonstrated that, despite differences in terminology, these claims correspond to (...) themes developed by Plato in the Parmenides and the Philebus. In this book, he shows how this correspondence can be extended to key, but previously obscure, passages in the Statesman. He also examines the interpretative consequences for other sections of that dialogue, particularly those concerned with the practice of dialectical inquiry. (shrink)
Applying the analytical methods of modern logic to problems of interpretation in Plato, the author traces the development of Plato's analytic method from the crude form expressed in the Phaedo to the considerably more sophisticated and powerful techniques practiced in the later methodological dialogues.
The problem of semantic content is the problem of explicating those features of brain processes by virtue of which they may properly be thought to possess meaning or reference. This paper criticizes the account of semantic content associated with fodor's version of cognitive science, And offers an alternative account based on mathematical communication theory. Its key concept is that of a neuronal representation maintaining a high-Level of mutual information with a designated external state of affairs under changing conditions of perceptual (...) presentation. (shrink)
A model of causation is presented which shares the advantages of Reichenbach's definition in terms of the screening-off relation, but which has the added advantage of distinguishing cause and effect without reference to temporal directionality. This model is defined in terms of the masking relation, which in turn is defined in terms of the equivocation relation of communication theory.
Contesting much contemporary epistemology and cognitive science, noted philosopher Kenneth M. Sayre argues that, while some cognitive attitudes such as believing take propositions as objects, there are many others whose objects are instead states of affairs.
Parmenides is generally recognized as Plato's most difficult dialogue. This work argues that the key to unlocking the puzzles of Parmenides II lies in the proper interpretive pairing of the eight hypotheses under which its arguments are grouped.
Kenneth M. Sayre - Plato's Forms in Transition: A Reading of the Parmenides - Journal of the History of Philosophy 46:1 Journal of the History of Philosophy 46.1 169-170 Muse Search Journals This Journal Contents Kenneth M. Sayre University of Notre Dame Samuel C. Rickless. Plato's Forms in Transition: A Reading of the Parmenides. Cambridge-New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Pp. v + 272. Cloth, $90.00. Rickless construes Plato's middle-period account of the Forms as a theory comprising axioms, auxiliary principles, (...) fundamental theorems, and specific premises and conclusions constituting particular arguments. This book attempts to reconstruct that theory , to trace its further development and subsequent criticism in Parmenides 126a–35c.. (shrink)
In __Unearthed: The Economic Roots of Our Environmental Crisis_, _Kenneth M. Sayre argues that the only way to resolve our current environmental crisis is to reduce our energy consumption to a level where the entropy produced by that consumption no longer exceeds the biosphere’s ability to dispose of it. Tangible illustrations of this entropy buildup include global warming, ozone depletion, loss of species diversity, and unmanageable amounts of nonbiodegradable waste._ Degradation of the biosphere is tied directly to human energy use, (...) which has been increasing exponentially since the Industrial Revolution. Energy use, in turn, is directly correlated with economic production. Sayre shows how these three factors are invariably bound together. The unavoidable conclusion is that the only way to resolve our environmental crisis is to reverse the present pattern of growth in the world economy. Economic growth is motivated by social values. Key among them are the desire for wealth and consumer values including gratification, convenience, and acquisition of goods. Sayre maintains that economic growth can be reversed only by eliminating these social values in favor of others more conducive to environmental health. Eliminating these values will involve major changes in lifestyle within industrial societies generally. Only with such changes in lifestyle, he argues, does human society as we know it have a chance of survival. Clearly written and thoroughly documented, this book provides a comprehensive overview of our complex environmental predicament. "With unerring logic and science, Kenneth Sayre dissects the origins of the ecological crisis and points to the necessary recalibration of industrial societies with the laws of thermodynamics and ecology. It is a radical book in that he gets to the heart of what ails us, and it charts a course toward a future grounded in authentic hope." — David W. Orr, Oberlin College__ “Sayre’s assessment forces all seeking a sustainable future to reexamine the preeminence accorded to clean energy. _ Unearthed __uniquely combines thermodynamics and ethics to challenge and broaden readers’ understandings of the systemic issues we face. Assembled and presented with piercing clarity, __Unearthed __constructs a brilliant framework for making sense of our quiet, but growing crises.” —_Felipe Witchger, IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates__ “Kenneth M. Sayre’s _ Unearthed: The Economic Roots of Our Environmental Crisis__ constitutes a major and significant contribution to our understanding of the grave ecological crisis facing humanity. It covers the complete picture, from the basic physical causes of the destruction of our environment to the sociological or anthropological forces that condition our self-destructive actions. The work not only is a brilliant and mind-sweeping piece of diagnosis and prognosis, but it goes all the way to point towards possible solutions.” —_Fernando del Río Haza, Laboratorio de Termodinámica, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Iztapalapa, Mexico_. (shrink)
Gödel's theorem seems to me to prove that Mechanism is false, that is, that minds cannot be explained as machines. So also has it seemed to many other people: almost every mathematical logician I have put the matter to has confessed to similar thoughts, but has felt reluctant to commit himself definitely until he could see the whole argument set out, with all objections fully stated and properly met.1 This I attempt to do.
This book will please different people for different reasons. Those who have felt the lack of an adequate analysis of the emotions will be gratified by the author’s clarity and comprehension of view in distinguishing among feelings, desires, and pleasures. Ethical theorists may benefit from his analysis of the difference between motives and intentions. Philosophers who have been puzzled by Wittgenstein’s remarks on sensation in Parts I and II of Philosophical Investigations may expect to find some relief in the author’s (...) straightforward discussion of feelings under Wittgenstein’s inspiration. And philosophers who, for whatever reason, have regretted the lack of communication between the Scholastic tradition and the tradition of Modern Empiricism will be heartened by the lively way in which insights of St Thomas Aquinas and of Aristotle himself are brought to bear in relevant terms upon problems of human action and emotion inherited from Descartes and Hume. The author is partisan in this book. He sides generally with Aristotle, Aquinas, Wittgenstein, Anscombe and Geach, and generally against Descartes, Hume, Russell, Ryle and various contemporary logicians. But the price of this alignment does not include befuddlement about what his antagonists have to say, nor blindness to some of the virtues of their positions. In this respect alone, if not only in this respect, the author’s discussion is both refreshing and worthy of a student with teachers such as his. (shrink)
I do not wish at this time to dispute either or. I do not believe, however, that the intermediate step can be adequately justified, and hence remain unconvinced by the purported conclusion. The most recent presentation of this argument is in Professor Dreyfus' article "Why Computers must have Bodies in order to be Intelligent," a discussion of which will serve to explain my lack of confidence in any argument of this general form.
There are several things about this little book which make it worth reading. One is its lucid summary of Mach’s views on the constitution of physical objects out of sensations, and on the nature of scientific explanation, which the author labels ‘Sensationalism’. Another is his analysis of descriptions, in particular his discussion of the characteristics with reference to which we judge a description satisfactory or otherwise. Of less direct relevance to the main theme of the book, but suggestive nonetheless, is (...) his subsequent defense of the possibility of descriptions which are not laden with theoretical interpretations. Finally, the author attempts to disclose essential differences between descriptions and explanations which devaluate any account such as Mach’s tending to assimilate the two. (shrink)
We attempt to clarify the nature of philosophic assertions about perception by considering how one can argue effectively against such assertions. Reasons are given, with illustrative assertions from Aristotle and Berkeley, why one cannot argue effectively against such either (1) by arguing for contrary assertions in competing theories or (2) by appealing to scientific observation. Effective arguments against such accounts include (1) those which demonstrate inconsistency within the account, (2) those which disclose an unintelligibility within the account, and (3) those (...) which show the account is inadequate in scope. These are illustrated respectively by arguments (i) against Phenomenalism, (ii) against Aristotle's account of the identity in act of sensing faculty and sensed object, and (iii) against Berkeley's account of observation through instruments. (shrink)
Psychologists, physiologists, and philosophers find different problems in perception, and the interested layman is often puzzled when he comes to realize how little scientific and philosophic theories of perception have in common. The approach of this book is synoptic, in that the author believes that evidence from scientific theories of perception can be brought to bear upon the solution of problems traditionally left to the philosopher. Among problems which Hirst attempts to unravel with the help of physiology and psychology are (...) those regarding the physical causation of mental events, the status of primary and secondary qualities, and the publicity of perceptual objects. (shrink)