The paper discusses the concept of the cognitive niche and distinguishes the latter from the metabolic niche. By using these posits I unpack certain ideas that are crucial for the enactivist movement, especially for its original formulation proposed by Varela, Thompson and Rosh. Drawing on the ontology of location, boundaries, and parthood, I argue that enacting the world can be seen as the process of cognitive niche construction. Moreover, it turns out that enactivism—as seen through the lens of the conceptual (...) framework proposed in the paper—considers cognition as a kind of connection between the subject and the world. This post is pointed to as the key idea laid down in enactivism. (shrink)
The book is the first formulation of a meta-philosophical scheme rooted in the embodied cognition paradigm. The latter views subjects capable of cognition and experience as living, embodied creatures coupled with their environments. On the other hand, the emergence of experimental philosophy has given rise to a new context in which philosophers have begun to search for a more thorough definition of philosophical competence. The time is ripe for these two trends to join their efforts. Therefore, the book discusses what (...) it means for a human being thought of as a living subject to pursue philosophy. In this context, in contrast to the existing literature, philosophical competence must not be conflated with competence in philosophy. The former is a skill or attitude. The book refers to this peculiar attitude as the recognition of one’s epistemic position. (shrink)
Two major philosophical movements have sought to fundamentally rethink the relationship between humans and their environment(s): environmental ethics and enactivism. Surprisingly, they virtually never refer to or seek inspiration from each other. The goal of this analysis is to bridge the gap. Our main purpose, then, is to address, from the enactivist angle, the conceptual backbone of environmental ethics, namely the concept of intrinsic value. We argue that intrinsic value does indeed exist, yet its "intrinsicality" does not boil down to (...) being independent of the interests and needs of humans. Rather, it is brought forth by what we callshared enactionof an axiological domain. The latter is built upon such core posits of enactivism as autonomy, enaction, participatory sense-making as well as the most recent concept of loving as knowing proposed by Hanne De Jaegher. (shrink)
This paper aims to elucidate a kind of ignorance that is more fundamental than a momentary lack of information, but also not a kind of ignorance that is built into the subject’s cognitive apparatus such that the subject can’t do anything about it. The paper sets forth the notion of cognitive confinement, which is a contingent, yet relatively stable state of being structurally or systematically unable to gain information from an environment, determined by patterns of interaction between the subject and (...) the world. In order to unpack the idea of cognitive confinement the paper discusses niche construction theory, and then, in greater detail, the notion of cognitive niche once proposed by John Tooby and Irven DeVore. Cognitive confinement is here imagined as a pathologized form of cognitive niche. This posit is substantiated by referring to a case that has come to the fore in recent years and raised debate around the world: the rise of so-called filter bubbles. They turn out to be instantiations of a more general phenomenon of cognitive confinement. (shrink)
The paper develops the idea that institutions are enablers. However, they do not only enable individuals and collectives to achieve their goals; first and foremost, they enable individuals and collectives to have a goal, to select and recognize certain possible states of affairs as targets of action, and as a result, to have a demand – especially a demand for further institutions. I make the case that properly functioning institutions are dedicated to making these states of affairs epistemically acquaintable. What (...) I will stress in particular is that acquaintance is first realized in the form of questions, which are linguistic expressions of acts of problematization. However, I will discuss less what an individual subject questions, but rather what the social dynamic of questioning is. This dynamic will be conceptualized in terms of epistemic dependence, and it will be singled out as the dynamic that gives rise to institutions. (shrink)
Context: Von Foerster’s concept of eigenbehavior can be recognized against the broader context of enactivism as it has been advocated by Varela, Thompson and Rosch, by Noë and recently by Hutto and Myin, among others. This flourishing constellation of ideas is on its way to becoming the new paradigm of cognitive science. However, in my reading, enactivism, putting stress on the constitutive role of action when it comes to mind and perception, faces a serious philosophical challenge when attempting to account (...) for the way we actually perceive our environments, most importantly for the fact that we perceive things or objects. Von Foester’s eigenbehavior is understood here as a concept supposed to take on this challenge. Problem: In this article I tackle the following issues: Enactivism must be able to account for the apparent stability of the perceived world: this is not a realm of a never-ending flux of stimuli; it is a realm of stable things. Enactivism is committed to the anti-Cartesian endeavor seeking to bridge the gap between the inner and the outer; between the subjective and the objective. Now, these two points constrain each other so that one cannot address simply by regarding the apparent stability of things as a projection that springs out of the internal machinery binding inputs with outputs. This is because the very idea of such an internal machinery opposes, i.e., it employs the Cartesian dichotomy. So, enactivism is in need of an account of that would not oppose its anti-Cartesian commitment. Method: I introduce the ontology of location and niche theory, as it has been brought forth by Varzi, Casati, and Smith, and develop it so that it can be used in the philosophy of mind. This is a conceptual, semi-formal philosophical analysis. Results: I shall come up with the idea of object conceived of a product of action, and - drawing on von Foerster’s central idea - as a product of coordination of perceptions. Yet, it is not coordination of stimuli but coordination of cognitive connections. The notion of connection is thus articulated in the article and cast as the central concept in my proposal. Implications: We are able to account for both and (2. The apparent stability of the perceived world is due to the setting up and maintaining of connections between the perceiver and the things perceived, resulting in the establishment of what I call a cognitive niche. Constructivist content: Constructivism, broadly construed, takes, in my reading, a negative stance in the first place. Namely, it opposes what I call the metaphysics of the ready-made world. So, it holds that there is no ready-made reality; however it remains open when it comes to positive claims: a mind-independent reality does not exist at all or it does exist but it is not ready-made and as such it must be brought to completion, so to speak, or enacted, as Varela et al. would say, by a cognitive subject. In this article, I follow the latter and address one specific issue: how the enacted world gains its relatively stable architecture. (shrink)
The word “as” enables one to make contexts and aspects of things explicit while attributing properties or descriptions to them. For example “John is rational as a mathematician”; “John is irrational as a driver.” This paper examines the idea according to which all propositions containing “as” should be targeted as potential inferences about the subject; as for the examples given—about John. If the inference is valid—the conception in question holds—one can get rid of “as.” I argue against that view by (...) bringing up several contexts in which “as” is not supposed to express an inference. On this basis I come up with a different (non-inferential) typology which does justice, I believe, to ordinary as well as philosophical uses of the little word at stake. (shrink)
Aspectual shape is widely recognized property of intentionality. This means that subject’s access to reality is necessarily conditioned by applied concepts, perspective, modes of sensation, etc. I argue against representational and indirect-realist account of this phenomenon. My own proposition—presentational and direct realist—is based on the recognition of historical contexts, in which the phenomenon of aspectuality should be reconsidered; on the other hand—it is based on Ludwig Wittgenstein’s conception of aspectual perception. Moreover I apply some results from the area of logicophilosophical (...) investigations called qua theory. (shrink)
I argue that Ludwig Wittgenstein’s idea of the metaphysical subject sheds new light on subjective qualities of experience. In this article I draw first of all on the interpretations provided by Michael Kremer and James Conant. Subsequently, I conclude that “what is it like” means primarily “what is it like to see myself as the metaphysical subject”.
This paper answers a philosophical challenge that emerges when we problematize the seemingly trivial "fact" that, on the one hand, through our senses we are presented with a realm that is not of our own making; while, on the other hand, various perceivers are acquainted with diverse presentations of this realm, depending on their perspective and cognitive machinery. The challenge is dubbed here the problem of presentations. The paper draws on the idea of situation-dependent properties proposed by Susanna Schellenberg. However, (...) the paper takes the notion of situation more seriously and introduces a number of basic notions borrowed from situated cognition—a cluster of ideas that have recently emerged in the philosophy of mind. These make it possible to introduce the perceiver in such a way as not to endanger the objective character of situation-dependent properties. Thought of this way, situation-dependent properties are in turn described as the building blocks of presentations. (shrink)
Open peer commentary on the article “A Defence of Starmaking Constructivism: The Problem of Stuff” by Bin Liu. Abstract: I first problematize the conditions under which the “problem of stuff” can function as a genuine concern for a constructivist ontology. These conditions have to do with the Cartesian ideal of “radical beginning” and the absolute foundation of knowledge, which was transplanted to contemporary (analytic) ontology/metaphysics through its concentration on language. Finally, I argue that the “problem of stuff” is not an (...) urgent problem. (shrink)
Philosophical intuition has become one of the most debated problems in recent years, largely due to the rise of the movement called experimental philosophy which challenged the conviction that philosophers have some special insight into abstract ideas such as being, knowledge, good and evil, intentional action, etc. In response to the challenge, some authors claim that there is a special cognitive faculty called philosophical intuition which delivers justification to philosophical theses, while some others deny it based on experimental results. A (...) relatively smaller group of researchers aim at clarifying what the alleged intuition is. I follow the latter path. In this paper I argue that philosophical intuition is in the first place the capacity enabling one to what I refer to as the recognition of one’s epistemic position. The latter means becoming aware of the seemingly trivial “fact” that the way in which the world manifests itself depends on the cognitive apparatus one has, thereby propelling one to draw a distinction between appearances and reality. The recognition at stake is a very specific capacity to approach the world solely as it is experienced. This capacity, I argue, is the core and the defining feature of philosophical intuition. As part of my argumentation I also distinguish between the intuition in question and its different manifestations; and then introduce a novel notion of erotetic intuition. My argument is called “old-fashion” to emphasize the fact that I draw mostly on four figures who were pivotal in the twentieth- century philosophy and whose influence on the current debate concerning philosophical intuition should be, I believe, stronger than it is; I mean Russell, Carnap, Wittgenstein, and Husserl. (shrink)
Olga Tokarczuk’s masterpiece Flights highlights one of the most profound metaphysical, moral and religious conundrums – a tension, but also an intimate bond, between stability and structuredness, on the one hand, and the power of change, movement and transgression on the other. The paper is devoted to unveiling what I dub the paradox of embodied agency. In simple terms, structuredness makes the known world organized and predictable; yet, at the same time, these very structures are vehicles of change, movement, sometimes (...) even destruction. I make the case that this profound aspect of Flights deserves more recognition. (shrink)
The article consists of three parts. The first is an outline of Roman Ingarden’s semantics, including the theory of the act of judging, the theory of semantic content, and his definition of truth. Ingarden developed his intuition about truth in two different ways. I emphasize this difference. In the second part I present a formal interpretation of Ingarden’s definition developed by Andrzej Biłat. In the third part I try to formulate my own interpretation using the category of aspect.
In the article I consider whether philosophical anthropology offers knowledge about man. I begin with a definition of knowledge, then I present philosophical anthropology against the background of other kinds of anthropology. Having explained what is proper to it, I show that its goal cannot be the attainment of knowledge. Knowledge has requirements that an unreduced philosophical anthropology cannot fulfill; reduction deprives it of what is proper to it. However, the fact that it does not produce knowledge is not a (...) defect. The goal of my article is to create a common arena for considering various different approaches to man; this requires that the various parties admit that man cannot be reduced to what can be known about him. In order to know something, it is necessary to use carefully selected methods; it is not the case that merely saying something about man implies the possession of knowledge about him. (shrink)
Psychoontology is a philosophical theory of the cognizing subject and various related matters. In this article. I present two approaches to the discipline—the first proposed by Jerzy Perzanowski, the second by Jesse Prinz and Yoram Hazony. I then undertake to bring these into unity using certain ideas from Husserl and Frege. Applying the functor qua, psychoontology can be described as a discipline concerned with: (a) the cognizing subject qua being—this leads to the question: what kind of being is the subject (...) (is it an object?, simple or complex?, a process?) and what makes him/her/it possible; (b) being qua cognized, this leads to the question: under what conditions can we access the world? Since the notion of being qua cognized might seem peculiar, I present its context and discuss it in detail in the last section. (shrink)
Abstract:This paper places the debate on intrinsic value taking place in environmental ethics within the context of the traditional controversy between realism and antirealism. It lays the groundwork for a new kind of realism with respect to intrinsic value. The latter does not claim that intrinsic value is real in the sense that it exists in an external, mind-independent reality; nor does it claim that that there are objective truthmakers of valuing statements. First, it aims at acts of valuing instead (...) of values. So, the question is whether there are cases in which something merits an act of intrinsic valuing. We propose that the core of realism with regard to intrinsic value is the endorsement of what might be is provisionally called the axiological rule of excluded middle; it says that for a given subject or group of subjects any entity either merits an act of intrinsic valuing or does not. However, for the proposed account to work, the paper also seeks a new account of meriting an act of valuing itself, endowing this specific relation with a new, more "embodied" sense. (shrink)
I shall elaborate more on the idea of anti-irrationalism proposed by the Polish analytic philosopher Kazimierz Ajdukiewicz, a prominent member of the Lvov-Warsaw School of philosophy and logic. In my reading, anti-irrationalism stands in opposition not only to overt irrationalism, which is made clear by the term itself, but also to all forms of rationalism that tip toward something like worship of reason. Having characterized anti-irrationalism as it originally appeared in Ajdukiewicz’s works, I shall propose a certain reformulation of it, (...) so as to capture a broader philosophical legacy in Poland, primarily, yet not exclusively the Lvov-Warsaw School. (shrink)
There is a specific class of propositions frequently used but almost unknown from the point of view of formal logic. Suppose that A, B, C are names. The propositions “A is B qua C” and “A qua C is B” are called qua-propositions. Roberto Poli introduced the term “qua-theory” in order to separate the special part of logic as well as philosophy focused on qua-propositions – their logical properties and meaning. But as long as some kinds of qua-propositions are not (...) distinguished, the subject of qua-theory cannot be established properly and clearly. In my article I want to examine the proposals of Roberto Poli and Allan Bäck and in effect to propose different classifications of qua-propositions. Also the epistemological context will be important. Different kinds of qua-propositions enable us to distinguish different kinds of epistemological views very generally called “aspectualism”. (shrink)
I focus on the relationship between the coalition of ideas including constructivism and enactivism on the one side, and ontology in general on the other. Based on a certain logico-phenomenological attitude that dominated Polish philosophy in the 20th century I argue that ontology as such is not burdened with realistic or representationalist presumptions. Finally, certain more specific issues raised by the commentators are also addressed, including the very usability of the notion of cognitive niche and its role when it comes (...) to the problem of presentation. (shrink)
I elaborate on how boundaries are accounted for in the target article. This is a substantial issue if we are to understand the proposal laid out by Fields et al. I argue that certain boundary-related notions and theses need clarification.
Open peer commentary on the article “What Can the Global Observer Know?” by Diana Gasparyan. Upshot: I propose a simple way of representing the idea of global observation, broadly understood: a pair composed of an observer and the observer’s location ; the idea of occupying all possible viewpoints at once; the idea of a view from nowhere (no viewpoint. According to the hypothesis proposed in the article, these are all consecutive stages in the evolution of cognition. I elaborate in detail (...) on the final stage, which I call “theory of being.”. (shrink)
Open peer commentary on the article “Conflatingion with Empirical Observation: The False Mind-Matter Dichotomy” by Bernardo Kastrup. Upshot: This commentary is centered around one issue: it describes a possibility that, contrary to what the target article brings, not only the notion of matter, but also the notion of mind is a theoretical postulate devoted to unpacking our complex, concrete and pre-conceptual embodiment in the world. Therefore, the commentary suggests that there may be no difference in abstraction between the two notions (...) at stake. (shrink)