Theaetetus, asked what knowledge is, replies that geometry and the other mathematical disciplines are knowledge, and so are crafts like cobbling. Socrates points out that it does not help him to be told how many kinds of knowledge there are when his problem is to know what knowledge itself is, what it means to call geometry or a craft knowledge in the first place—he insists on the generality of his question in the way he often does when his interlocutor, asked (...) for a definition, cites instead cases of the concept to be defined. (shrink)
It is a standing temptation for philosophers to find anticipations of their own views in the great thinkers of the past, but few have been so bold in the search for precursors, and so utterly mistaken, as Berkeley when he claimed Plato and Aristotle as allies to his immaterialist idealism. In Siris: A Chain of Philosophical Reflexions and Inquiries Concerning the Virtues of Tar-Water , which Berkeley published in his old age in 1744, he reviews the leading philosophies of antiquity (...) and finds them on the whole a good deal more sympathetic to his own ideas than the ‘modern atheism’, as he calls it, of Hobbes and Spinoza or the objectionable principles of ‘the mechanic and geometrical philosophers’ such as Newton . But his strongest and, I think, his most interesting claim is that neither Plato nor Aristotle admitted ‘an absolute actual existence of sensible or corporeal things’. (shrink)
This article is detective work, not philosophy. J. S. Mill's Autobiography records that at the age of seven he read, in Greek, ‘the first six dialogues of Plato, from the Euthyphron to the Theaetetus inclusive’. Which were the other dialogues? On the arrangement common today, it would be Crito, Apology, Phaedo, Cratylus. On the arrangement common then, Theages and Erastai replace Cratylus, which makes seven dialogues. I show that this must be the answer by the evidence of James Mill's commonplace (...) books and his writings on Plato. These reveal which collected edition of Plato he owned and which he would want to own. Conditions for studying Plato in the original were much harder than we are used to. The inquiry highlights both the ideological purity of the education James Mill designed for his son, and the difficulties he faced in realizing his plan. (shrink)
M. F. Burnyeat taught for 14 years in the Philosophy Department of University College London, then for 18 years in the Classics Faculty at Cambridge, 12 of them as the Laurence Professor of Ancient Philosophy, before migrating to Oxford in 1996 to become a Senior Research Fellow in Philosophy at All Souls College. The studies, articles and reviews collected in these two volumes of Explorations in Ancient and Modern Philosophy were all written, and all but two published, before that decisive (...) change. Whether designed for a scholarly audience or for a wider public, they range from the Presocratics to Augustine, from Descartes and Bishop Berkeley to Wittgenstein and G. E. Moore. Their subject-matter falls under four main headings: 'Logic and Dialectic' and 'Scepticism Ancient and Modern', which are contained in this first volume; 'Knowledge' and 'Philosophy and the Good Life' make up the second volume. The title 'Explorations' well expresses Burnyeat's ability to discover new aspects of familiar texts, new ways of solving old problems. In his hands the history of philosophy becomes itself a philosophical activity. (shrink)
There is general acknowledgement that both the anterior cingulate and orbitofrontal cortex are implicated in reinforcement-guided decision making, and emotion and social behaviour. Despite the interest that these areas generate in both the cognitive neuroscience laboratory and the psychiatric clinic, ideas about the distinctive contributions made by each have only recently begun to emerge. This reflects an increasing understanding of the component processes that underlie reinforcement- guided decision making, such as the representation of reinforcement expectations, the exploration, updating and representation (...) of action values, and the appreciation that choices are guided not just by the prospect of reward but also by the costs that action entails. Evidence is emerging to suggest that the anterior cingulate and orbitofrontal cortex make distinct contributions to each of these aspects of decision making. (shrink)
Context: The dominant approach to the study of perception is representational/computational, with an emphasis on the achievements of the brain and the nervous system, which are taken to construct internal models of the world. Alternatives include ecological, embedded, embodied, and enactivist approaches, all of which emphasize the centrality of action in understanding perception. Problem: Despite sharing many theoretical commitments that lead to a rejection of the classical approach, the alternatives are characterized by important contrasts and points of divergence. Here we (...) focus on the enactive and ecological approaches, in particular, on how they construe the status of the environment and the content of perception. Method: We begin with a review of James Gibson’s ecological psychology, highlighting it as a psychology for all organisms not just humans. Against this backdrop, we consider enactivist arguments against direct perception - a central assertion of the ecological approach - and in favor of interpreting the activity of perceptual agents as a kind of construction of a perceptually meaningful world. Results: We assess the merits of this interpretation and we conclude that it cannot be grounded on fundamental principles such as thermodynamics and organism-environment mutuality. Implications: As a consequence, enactivism remains close to representationalism and entails a form of dualism. Constructivist content: We advance a criticism of the constructivist foundations of the enactive approach to perception. Perception-action mutuality at the heart of enactivism does not require mental construction; indeed, perception-action mutuality obviates construction. (shrink)
The question contrasts two ways of expressing the role of the sense organ in perception. In one the expression referring to the sense organ is put into the dative case ; the other is a construction with the preposition δiá governing the genitive case of the word for the sense organ.
This is a close scrutiny of "De Anima II 5", led by two questions. First, what can be learned from so long and intricate a discussion about the neglected problem of how to read an Aristotelian chapter? Second, what can the chapter, properly read, teach us about some widely debated issues in Aristotle's theory of perception? I argue that it refutes two claims defended by Martha Nussbaum, Hilary Putnam, and Richard Sorabji: (i) that when Aristotle speaks of the perceiver becoming (...) like the object perceived, the assimilation he has in mind is ordinary alteration of the type exemplified when fire heats the surrounding air, (ii) that this alteration stands to perceptual awareness as matter to form. Claim (i) is wrong because the assimilation that perceiving is is not ordinary alteration. Claim (ii) is wrong because the special type of alteration that perceiving is is not its underlying material realisation. Indeed, there is no mention in the text of any underlying material realisation for perceiving. The positive aim of II 5 is to introduce the distinction between first and second potentiality, each with their own type of actuality. In both cases the actuality is an alteration different from ordinary alteration. Perception exemplifies one of these new types of alteration, another is found in the acquisition of knowledge and in an embryo's first acquisition of the power of perception. The introduction of suitably refined meanings of 'alteration' allows Aristotle to explain perception and learning within the framework of his physics, which by definition is the study of things that change. He adapts his standard notion of alteration, familiar from "Physics" III 1-3 and "De Generatione et Corruptione" I, to the task of accounting for the cognitive accuracy of (proper object) perception and second potentiality knowledge: both are achievements of a natural, inborn receptivity to objective truth. Throughout the paper I pay special attention to issues of text and translation, and to Aristotle's cross-referencing, and I emphasise what the chapter does not say as well as what it does. In particular, the last section argues that the textual absence of any underlying material realisation for perceiving supports a view I have defended elsewhere, that Aristotelian perception involves no material processes, only standing material conditions. This absence is as telling as others noted earlier. Our reading must respect the spirit of the text as Aristotle wrote it. (shrink)
In this paper, I explore a seldom-recognized connection between the ontology of abstract objects and a current issue in the philosophy of chemistry. Specifically, I argue that realism with regard to universals implies a view of chemical elements similar to F.A. Paneth’s thesis about the dual nature of the concept of element.
Scientific and technological improvements are accomplished only because of much research. The increase in the number of research studies causes a rise in ethical problems. Nursing research is no exception to this. The aim of this study is to identify and analyse ethical problems in nursing studies. This research is descriptive and partly analytical. It is retrospective in the sense that 169 Master of Science and 66 doctoral theses written between 1972 and 1998 in the Department of Nursing, Institute of (...) Health Sciences, Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey, were examined. The following ethical rules were used as criteria: that no harm should be caused to the subject; the subject was informed about the research topic; permission was obtained from the subject; and the privacy of the subject was maintained. The evaluation was carried out by distributing the theses among background variables and by employing nonparametric tests. The research associated with the theses was not harmful to the participants in 93.2%, while 6.8% were considered to have caused harm. In 72.7% of the theses the subjects were not informed of the research; in 73.6%, the researchers did not obtain permission from the subjects; and in 8.5% their privacy was not kept. An ethical score was assigned to each thesis, which varyed between 0 and 15. The mean score was 5.02. (shrink)
Background: Informed consent is regarded as a contract between autonomous and equal parties and requires the elements of information disclosure, understanding, voluntariness and consent. The validity of informed consent for critically ill patients has been questioned. Little is known about how these patients experience the process of consent.Objective: The aim of this study was to explore critically ill patients’ experience with the principle of informed consent in a clinical trial and their ability to give valid informed consent.Design: 11 stroke patients (...) who had been informed about thrombolytic treatment and had been through the process of deciding whether or not to participate in a thrombolysis trial went through repeated qualitative semistructured interviews.Results: None of the patients had any clear understanding of the purpose of the trial. Neither did they understand the principles of randomisation and voluntariness. Reasons for giving or not giving consent were trust, conceptions of benefits and risks and altruism. Several patients found it immoral to involve patients in the consent procedure and argued that this was the doctors’ responsibility. Others argued that it is a duty to question patients and perceived it as a sign of being treated with respect and dignity. A majority of the patients found the consent process vague and ambiguous.Conclusions: The results indicate that the principle of informed consent from critically ill patients cannot be seen as a contract between equal and autonomous parties. Further studies are needed to explore critically ill patients’ experiences with the process of informed consent. (shrink)
In the course of its 53 Stephanus pages Plato's Protagoras uses the verb διαλέγεσθαι 32 times: a frequency considerably greater than that of any other dialogue. The next largest total is 21 occurrences in the Theaetetus . In the vast bulk of the Republic διαλέγεσθαι occurs just 20 times over 294 Stephanus pages. The ratios are striking. In the Protagoras the verb turns up on average once every 1.65 Stephanus pages; in the Theaetetus once every 3.25 pages; in the Republic (...) only once every 14.7. The statistics reflect a fact evident to any reader of the Protagoras and Theaetetus, that the first of these dialogues is Plato's most sustained treatment of the comparative merits of the many different forms of διαλέγεσθαι, the second his most ambitious exhibition of the type of dialectic with which Socrates there wins his contest against Protagoras. It is the former dialogue that interests me here. (shrink)