Whereas the most visible forms of political colonialism have for the most part disappeared from the planet by the end of the millennium, several of its consequences remain with us. Criticism of colonialism, accordingly, has shifted its focus to its more subtle and lasting manifestations. Prominent among these are the varieties of what came to be known as the ‘colonization of the mind’. This is one of the forms of ‘epistemic violence’ that it is certainly the task of philosophers to (...) contribute to identify and struggle against. ‘Postcolonial’ thinkers have undertaken not only to analyze this phenomenon, but also to devise strategies for effectively combating and hopefully eradicating colonialism’s most damaging aspect – the taking possession and control of its victims’ minds. My purpose in this paper is to contribute, qua philosopher, to both of these undertakings. I begin by trying to clarify the nature of the colonization of the mind and its epistemic underpinnings and the typical reactions to it. Next, I examine examples of these reactions with their corresponding analyses and strategies. The assumptions underlying them reveal certain inherent paradoxes, which call into question the possibility of a full decolonization of mind. I conclude by suggesting an alternative strategy and a series of means to implement it. (shrink)
Some critical reactions hardly give clues to the arguer as to how to respond to them convinc-ingly. Other critical reactions convey some or even all of the considerations that make the critic critical of the arguer’s position and direct the arguer to defuse or to at least contend with them. First, an explication of the notion of a critical reaction will be provided, zooming in on the degree of ‘directiveness’ that a critical reaction displays. Second, it will be examined whether (...) and to what extent there is a normative requirement to strive after criticism that is more than minimally directive. In this paper, it is hypothesized that the com-petitiveness inherent in critical discussion must be mitigated by making the opponent responsible for providing her counterconsiderations, if available, thus assisting the proponent in developing an argumenta-tive strategy that defuses them. (shrink)
Trois philosophes du 17ème siècle, à son début, vers sa moitié et près de sa fin, ont utilisé la comparaison entre mots et monnaie: Bacon, Hobbes et Leibniz, respectivement. Quoique leurs textes à cet égard soient très semblables, ils emploient cette comparaison pour expliquer des thèses assez différentes sur la nature et les fonctions du langage. Cet article essaye de dégager ces différences, en les rapportant aux différentes philosophies du langage de ces auteurs. Il est aussi suggéré que de telles (...) differences peuvent être symptomatiques des changements qui, d'après M. Foucault, auraient eu lieu au cours du 17ème siècle au niveau de l'«épistémé» occidentale. (shrink)
In spite of the widespread belief that there is (or at least there was) a clearcut and deep opposition between two forms of philosophizing vaguely characterized as 'continental' and 'analytic', it is not easy to find actual examples of debates between philosophers that clearly belong to the opposed camps. Perhaps the reason is that, on the assumption that the alleged 'divide' is so deep, each side feels that there is no point in arguing against the other, for argumentation would quickly (...) be replaced by invective. In this paper I analyse one of the few recent examples of an across-divide debate -the Searle -Derrida polemic. Using a threefold typology of debates, I try to show that, in spite of the violent and sarcastic tone employed by both contenders, there is enough common ground, questioning of not-argued-for assumptions, and serious argumentation (on both sides) to consider this debate more than just an irrational dispute. (shrink)
Dichotomies are ubiquitous in deliberative thinking, in decision making and in arguing in all spheres of life.[i] Sticking uncompromisingly to a dichotomy may lead to sharp disagreement and paradox, but it can also sharpen the issues at stake and help to find a solution. Dichotomies are particularly in evidence in debates, i.e., in argumentative dialogical exchanges characterized by their agonistic nature. The protagonists in a debate worth its name hold positions that are or that they take to be opposed; they (...) argue against each other’s positions; and they defend their positions from the adversary’s attacks. In some cases, this may lead to a polarization of the debate through treating it as grounded on one or more dichotomies. In others, the contenders may construe the opposition as non-dichotomous and therefore less irreconcilable. Whereas the former attitude, which leads to ‘dichotomization’, is likely to radicalize a debate, rendering it difficult – sometimes impossible – to resolve, the latter, which leads to ‘de-dichotomization’, opens possibilities of solution of the debate other than all out victory of one side and defeat of the other. In addition to its effect on the outcome of a debate, the contenders’ attitude towards dichotomies in the debate’s management has further, important implications. It is intrinsically connected with the typology of debates and their typical argumentative moves. For the appropriateness of one or the other of these attitudes for best capturing the nature of the antagonism that underlies a debate is in fact an indicator of the kind of debate it actually is or is perceived by the contenders to be. Furthermore, such ‘attitudes’ are expressed by the contenders’ preferred choices of argumentative moves; and these, in turn, can be recognized, in a given debate context, as subservient either to a dichotomizing or to a de-dichotomizing strategy vis-à-vis a dichotomy taken to be at the root of the divergence. (shrink)
_Ever since Descartes singled out the ability to use natural language appropriately in any given circumstance as the proof_ _that humans – unlike animals and machines – have minds, an idea that Turing transformed into his well-known test to_ _determine whether machines have intelligence, the close connection between language and cognition has been widely_ _acknowledged, although it was accounted for in quite different ways. Recent advances in natural language processing, as_ _well as attempts to create “embodied conversational agents” which couple (...) language processing with that of its natural_ _bodily correlates (gestures, facial expression and gaze direction), in the hope of developing human-computer interfaces_ _based on natural – rather than formal – language, have again brought to the fore the question of how far we can hope_ _machines to be able to master the cognitive abilities required for language use. In this paper, I approach this issue from a_ _different angle, inquiring whether language can be viewed as a “cognitive technology”, employed by humans as a tool_ _for the performance of certain cognitive tasks. I propose a definition of “cognitive technology” that encompasses both_ _external (or “prosthetic”) and internal cognitive devices. A number of parameters in terms of which a typology of_ _cognitive technologies of both kinds can be sketched is also set forth. It is then argued that inquiring about language’s_ _role in cognition allows us to re-frame the traditional debate about the relationship between language and thought, by_ _examining how specific aspects of language actually influence cognition – as an environment, a resource, or a tool. This_ _perspective helps bring together the contributions of the philosophical “linguistic turn” in epistemology and the incipient_ _“epistemology of cognitive technology” It also permits a more precise and fruitful discussion of the question whether, to_ _what extent, and which of the language-based cognitive technologies we naturally use can be emulated by the kinds of_ _technologies presently or in the foreseeable future available.shrink)
I present and defend the thesis that the impasse at which the philosophy and history of science find themselves in the last couple of decades is due, to a large extent, either to the complete neglect or to a misguided treatment of the role of scientific controversies in the evolution of science. In order to do so, I first provide a preliminary clarification of the impasse to which I refer. I go on to explain why I see the study of (...) controversies as a fundamental step in solving it. I locate controversies within the set of empirical phenomena of the class of ‘polemical discourses’, and I single out the properties of controversies which explain their potential role for solving the impasse. I then show how the extant epistemological options are unable to handle controversies in a satisfactory form, which explains their inability to solve the impasse. I conclude by formulating an essential desideratum for the solution of the impasse. (shrink)
It happened to me one day to say that Cartesianism, in what good it has, was only the anteroom of true philosophy. A person in the company, who frequented the court, was well read, and even had ideas about science, pressed the figure into an allegory-maybe a little too far. For, he asked me whether I didn’t think that one could say, along the same line, that the ancients led us up the staircase, that the modem school had arrived at (...) the guards’ room, and that, if the innovators of our century had managed to reach the anteroom, he wished me the honor of introducing us into Nature’s sanctum. This parallel made us all laugh, and I told him, “You see, Sir, your comparison has rejoiced the company. But you forgot that between the anteroom and the sanctum there is the audience chamber, and that it will be enough if we obtain audience, without purporting to penetrate in the inner sanctum” (VE, p. 1867). (shrink)
s to the Cognitive Sciences, in their excessively brief historical surveys, usually attribute to Thomas Hobbes the merit of having been the first thinker to propose the computational theory of the mind. What they overlook is (a) the fact that Hobbes explicitly assigned to..
The man who is seeking to convert another in the proper manner should do so in a dialectical and not in a contentious way ... he who asks questions in a contentious spirit and he who in replying refuses to admit what is apparent ... are both of them bad dialecticians.
If we had a balance of reasons, where the arguments presented in favor and against the case were weighed precisely and the verdict could be pronounced in favor of the most inclined scale ... [we would have] a more valuable art than that miraculous science of producing gold.
Summary Pluralism and monism are the two current views concerning scientific research and language understanding. Between them there is a third, intermediate, view. We take a procedural methodology of science as exemplified in the work of L. Tondl, and procedural linguistics , as exemplified in the work of B. Harrison, to be representative of this third possibility. Procedures are cognitive, linguistic, and physical processes which, through their hierarchical interconnections can generate fruitful mechanisms . These mechanisms are sensitive to context and (...) operate in heuristic and algorithmic ways. Their similar logical structure points towards a profound unified basis for scientific and linguistic activities, thus providing an interesting bridge between what is achieved by a little child talking to his parents, and a creative scientist struggling to interpret the results of his experiments. (shrink)
This chapter is about three distinguished representatives of three traditions of controversy – Jewish, Muslim, and Christian – and about one resilient conflict – the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. My purpose is to single out in the thought and practice of the selected three representatives approaches to controversy and conflict that might perhaps offer innovative ideas as to how to increase the chances of solving the conflict in question. In a conflict like this, where two different traditions and cultures confront each other, (...) and the tendency of the contenders is to highlight their differences, it is important to try to single out those elements of similarity or at least of sufficient closeness in order to allow for the overcoming of the differences and, eventually for reconciliation. To be sure, both the thinkers considered and the circumstances in which they operated are extremely different. Yet, one of the purposes of this chapter is to show that it makes sense to compare their approaches and even to try to combine them into a set of complementary models capable to help us to overcome the deadlock in which the attempts to solve a current conflict by lack of new ideas – as analysts and politicians claim. Relevant new ideas, I contend, may come not only from our present creativity, but also from that of great thinkers of the past; not only from one’s own tradition of controversy, but also from that of other traditions. The methodological innovation I want to introduce here is thus simply the idea of “fishing for good ideas in the past”. Old ideas that remained unnoticed or unapplied may prove to be useful for reframing our current dilemmas. We will seek their help by examing three quite different models of conflict resolution, drawn from King Solomon, Ibn Rushd, and Leibniz. (shrink)
In this paper, I wish to present and defend the thesis that the impasse at which the philosophy and history of science find themselves in the last couple of decades is due, to a large extent, either to the complete neglect or to a misguided treatment of t he role of scientific controversies in the evolution of science.
Adam Smith’s lasting fame certainly does not come from his work on language. He published very little on this topic and he is not usually mentioned in standard histories of linguistics or the philosophy of language. His most elaborate publication on the subject is a 1761 monograph on the origin and development of languages (FoL). Smith’s monograph joins a long list of speculative work on this then fashionable topic (cf. Hewes 1975, 1996). The fact that he later included it as (...) an appendix to his successful.. (shrink)
blandior ratio : C, 34). I will first survey how extensive, albeit usually overlooked, is Leibniz’s concern with these “weaker” forms of reasoning, and how crucial they are for many of his practical and theoretical endeavors. I will then trace back this acute need of Leibniz´s brand of rationalism to the peculiar nature of the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR), as opposed to the other basic principle of his philosophy, the Principle of Contradiction (PC). I will present here only the (...) bare bones of the argument, in a sort of extended summary, omitting the textual support as well the references to the relevant secondary literature. (shrink)
Geoffrey Lloyd, in his book Cognitive Variations , addresses the puzzle of cognitive diversity vs. cognitive unity of our mental life by analyzing a number of debates related to it. Accounting for the fact that human mental life across cultures both shares many of its fundamental features and differs in many others, no less fundamental ones, apparently cannot but engender a dilemma, as long as only reductionist solutions are considered, for neither radical diversity is reducible to unity nor vice versa. (...) The situation is further complicated by the fact that `division of labor' solutions involving a sort of schizophrenic fragmentation of the mind, are also unlikely, since even the most diverse mental tasks complement each other in what appears to be a seamless unity. In this review article, I undertake to highlight what I take to be the cornerstone of Lloyd's account, namely an approach that rejects the dichotomy `diversity vs. unity' and thus creates an alternative, `pragmatic' path for their essential cooperation-through- opposition. This proposal is supported by an analysis of Lloyd's treatment of several of the debates discussed in the book's chapters, as well as by references to my own work in pragmatics and controversies. (shrink)