The past decade has seen major advances in cognitive, affective and social neuroscience that have the potential to revolutionize educational theories about learning. The importance of emotion and social learning has long been recognized in education, but due to technological limitations in neuroscience research techniques, treatment of these topics in educational theory has largely not had the benefit of biological evidence to date. In this article, I lay out two general, complementary findings that have emerged from the past decade of (...) neuroscience research on emotion and social processing, with a view to beginning a dialogue about the meaning of these findings for educational theory. First, emotion and cognition are intertwined, and involve interplay between the body and mind. Second, social processing and learning happen by internalizing our subjective interpretations of other people's beliefs, goals, feelings and actions, and vicariously experiencing aspects of these as if they were our own. Together, these two results from neuroscience could have important implications for the design of learning environments; to discover these will require reconciling established educational learning theories with the current neurobiological evidence. (shrink)
Social emotions about others’ mind states, for example, compassion for psychological pain or admiration for virtue, are an important foundation for morality because they help us decide how to treat other people. Although these emotions are ostensibly concerned with the mental qualities and situations of others, they can precipitate intimately subjective reflections on the quality of one’s own social life and mind, and via these reflections incite a desire to engage in meaningful moral actions. Our interview and neural data suggest (...) that the shift from social emotion to introspection may be facilitated by conscious mental evaluation of emotion-related visceral sensations. (shrink)
Social emotions about others’ minds, for example, admiration for virtue and compassion for social pain, play a critical role in interpersonal relationships, motivation, and morality. However, historical biases toward studying emotions as automatic reactions generated within a solitary individual limit our ability to study emotions about others’ minds, which are inherently complex, social, and subjective. Here, I argue that a microdevelopmental approach, that is, considering these emotions as dynamic, context-dependent mental constructions actively organized from simpler cognitive and affective psychological components, (...) may help to overcome the difficulties of studying these emotions by providing new perspectives on: reliably inducing these emotions; parsing the ensuing experiences into component psychological processes organizing over time; and relating these component processes to patterns of brain activation. (shrink)
Presenting evidence from the social brain, we argue that neural reuse is a dynamic, socially organized process that is influenced ontogenetically and evolutionarily by the cultural transmission of mental techniques, values, and modes of thought. Anderson's theory should be broadened to accommodate cultural effects on the functioning of architecturally similar neural systems, and the implications of these differences for reuse.
This article is about the relationship between reading, trauma and responsive literary caregiving in Britain during the First World War. Its analysis of two little-known documents describing the history of the War Library, begun by HelenMary Gaskell in 1914, exposes a gap in the scholarship of war-time reading; generates a new narrative of "how," "when," and "why" books went to war; and foregrounds gender in its analysis of the historiography. The Library of Congress's T. W. Koch discovered (...) Gaskell's ground-breaking work in 1917 and reported its successes to the American Library Association. The British Times also covered Gaskell's library, yet researchers working on reading during the war have routinely neglected her distinct model and method, skewing the research base on war-time reading and its association with trauma and caregiving. In the article's second half, a literary case study of a popular war novel demonstrates the extent of the "bitter cry for books." The success of Gaskell's intervention is examined alongside H. G. Wells's representation of textual healing. Reading is shown to offer sick, traumatized and recovering combatants emotional and psychological caregiving in ways that she could not always have predicted and that are not visible in the literary/historical record. (shrink)
Introduction This paper defends the moral significance of the distinction between killing and letting die. In the first part of the paper, I consider and reject Michael Tooley’s argument that initiating a causal process is morally equivalent to refraining from interfering in that process. The second part disputes Tooley’s suggestion it is merely external factors that make killing appear to be worse than letting die, when in reality the distinction is morally neutral. Tooley is mistaken to claim that we are (...) permitted to kill bystanders who had no fair chance to avoid being at risk of harm. We can support the significance of the killing / letting die distinction by considering the difference between what we are permitted to do in self-defence against those who are going to kill us, and what we can do against those who are going to let us die. I also suggest that we are less responsible for the deaths we allow than for the deaths that we cause, since we do not make people worse off for our presence in cases where we fail to save them. (shrink)
George Herbert Mead, one of America’s most important and influential philosophers, a founder of pragmatism, social psychology, and symbolic interactionism, was also a keen observer of American culture and early modernism. In the period from the 1870s to 1895, Henry Northrup Castle maintained a correspondence with family members and with Mead—his best friend at Oberlin College and brother-in-law—that reveals many of the intellectual, economic, and cultural forces that shaped American thought in that complex era. Close friends of John Dewey, Jane (...) Addams, and other leading Chicago Progressives, the author of these often intimate letters comments frankly on pivotal events affecting higher education, developments at Oberlin College, Hawaii, progressivism, and the general angst that many young intellectuals were experiencing in early modern America. The letters, drawn from the Mead-Castle collection at the University of Chicago, were collected and edited by Mead after the tragic death of Henry Castle in a shipping accident in the North Sea. Working with his wife Helen Castle, he privately published fifty copies of the letters to record an important relationship and as an intellectual history of two progressive thinkers at the end of the nineteenth century. American historians, such as Robert Crunden and Gary Cook, have noted the importance of the letters to historians of the late nineteenth century. The letters are made available here using the basic Mead text of 1902. Additional insights into the connection between Mead, John Dewey, Henry and Harriet Castle, and Hawaii’s progressive kindergarten system are provided by the foundation’s executive director Alfred L. Castle. Marvin Krislov, president of Oberlin College, has added additional comments on the importance of the letters to understanding the intellectual relationship that flourished at Oberlin College. Published with the support of the Samuel N. and Mary Castle Foundation. (shrink)
Whatever may be said about contemporary feminists’ evaluation of Descartes’ role in the history of feminism, Mary Astell herself believed that Descartes’ philosophy held tremendous promise for women. His urging all people to eschew the tyranny of custom and authority in order to uncover the knowledge that could be found in each one of our unsexed souls potentially offered women a great deal of intellectual and personal freedom and power. Certainly Astell often read Descartes in this way, and Astell (...) herself has been interpreted as a feminist – indeed, as the first English feminist. But a close look at Astell’s and Descartes’ theories of reason, and the role of authority in knowledge formation as well as in their philosophies of education, show that there are subtle yet crucial divergences in their thought – divergences which force us to temper our evaluation of Astell as a feminist. -/- My first task is to evaluate Astell’s views on custom and authority in knowledge formation and education by comparing her ideas with those of Descartes. While it is true that Astell seems to share Descartes’ wariness of custom and authority, a careful reading of her work shows that the wariness extends only as far as the tyranny of custom over individual intellectual development. It does not extend to a wariness about social and institutional customs and authority (including, perhaps most crucially, the institution of marriage as we see in her Reflection on Marriage). The reason for this is that Astell’s driving goal is to help women to come to know God’s plan for women – both in their roles as human and in their roles as women. According to Astell, while it is true that, as individuals, women must develop their rational capacities to the fullest in order to honor God and his plan for women as human, as members of social institutions, including the institution of marriage, women must subordinate themselves to men, including their husbands, in this case so as to honor God and his plan for women as women. Once we understand the theological underpinnings of her equivocal reaction to authority and custom, we can see that Astell may be considered a feminist in a very tempered way. -/- My second task is to use these initial conclusions to re-read her proposal for single-sexed education that we find in A Serious Proposal to the Ladies. It is true that Astell encourages women to join single-sexed educational institutions for the unique and empowering friendships that women can develop in such institutions. Still, my argument continues, the development of such friendships is not entirely an end in itself. Rather, Astell encourages women to develop such friendships such that they can re-enter the broader world armed with the tools that will help them endure burdensome features of the lives that await them in the world, including their lives as subordinated wives –burdens that Astell does not, in principle, challenge. (shrink)
Mary Shepherd and the Causal Relation - Part One -/- Part One gives context to the life and work of Lady Mary Shepherd. It weaves together the stories of her ancestors, her own stories and the wider social, historical and philosophical context. The aim is to evoke a world from which to mark the emergence of Mary Shepherd, Scotland’s first female philosopher.
ABSTRACT Mary Shelley (1797–1851) developed a ‘Romantic Spinozism’ from 1817 to 1848. This was a deterministic worldview that adopted an ethical attitude of love toward the world as it is, must be, and will be. Resisting the psychological despair and political inertia of fatalism, her ‘Romantic Spinozism’ affirmed the forward-looking responsibility of people to love their neighbors and sustain the world, including future generations, even in the face of seeming apocalypse. This history of Shelley’s reception of Spinoza begins with (...) the fragment of the otherwise lost translation of the Theologico-Political Treatise (1670) on which she collaborated. It extends through her journals, letters, poetry, and her second great work of speculative fiction after Frankenstein (1818): a post-apocalyptic novel set in the year 2100, The Last Man (1826). Through a creative synthesis of Spinoza with Plato, Cicero, Wollstonecraft, and Glasite Christianity, Shelley developed an anti- apocalyptic conception of love as apocatastasis: a cyclical restoration of an ethical attitude of stewardship toward the whole world and its necessity. Through this recovery of a vital chapter in the history of European ideas, Shelley emerges as a central figure in Spinozan philosophy, especially the ethics and political philosophy of love. (shrink)
According to some scholars, Mary Astell’s feminist programme is severely limited by its focus on self-improvement rather than wider social change. In response, I highlight the role of ‘virtuous friendship’ in Astell’s 1694 work, A Serious Proposal to the Ladies. Building on classical ideals and traditional Christian principles, Astell promotes the morally transformative power of virtuous friendship among women. By examining the significance of such friendship to Astell’s feminism, we can see that she did in fact aim to bring (...) about reformation of society and not just the individual. (shrink)
A computer can come to understand natural language the same way Helen Keller did: by using “syntactic semantics”—a theory of how syntax can suffice for semantics, i.e., how semantics for natural language can be provided by means of computational symbol manipulation. This essay considers real-life approximations of Chinese Rooms, focusing on Helen Keller’s experiences growing up deaf and blind, locked in a sort of Chinese Room yet learning how to communicate with the outside world. Using the SNePS computational (...) knowledge-representation system, the essay analyzes Keller’s belief that learning that “everything has a name” was the key to her success, enabling her to “partition” her mental concepts into mental representations of: words, objects, and the naming relations between them. It next looks at Herbert Terrace’s theory of naming, which is akin to Keller’s, and which only humans are supposed to be capable of. The essay suggests that computers at least, and perhaps non-human primates, are also capable of this kind of naming. (shrink)
In the 1706 third edition of her Reflections upon Marriage, Mary Astell alludes to John Locke’s definition of slavery in her descriptions of marriage. She describes the state of married women as being ‘subject to the inconstant, uncertain, unknown, Arbitrary Will of another Man’ (Locke, Two Treatises, II.22). Recent scholars maintain that Astell does not seriously regard marriage as a form of slavery in the Lockean sense. In this paper, I defend the contrary position: I argue that Astell does (...) seriously regard marriage as a form of slavery for women and that she condemns this state of affairs as morally wrong. I also show that, far from criticizing Locke, Astell draws on key passages in his Thoughts concerning Education to urge that women be educated to retain their liberty. (shrink)
Lady Mary Shepherd’s critique of Hume’s account of causation, his worries about knowledge of matters of fact, and the contention that it is possible for the course of nature to spontaneously change relies primarily on three premises, two of which – that objects are merely bundles of qualities and that the qualities of an object are individuated by the causal powers contributed by those qualities – anticipate contemporary metaphysical views in ways that she should be getting credit for. The (...) remaining premise – that it is impossible for an object to begin to exist uncaused – seems more old fashioned. I argue that Shepherd can do without her old-fashioned premise and that she provides the materials for arguing that her remaining premises demonstrate a stronger anti-Humeanism than is maintained even by the contemporary representatives of those views, even though she may have to concede more to Humeanism than she would like. (shrink)
Mary Midgley argued that philosophy was a necessity, not a luxury. It's difficulties lie partly in the fact that, when doing it, we are struggling not only against the difficulty of the subject matter, but also certain tendencies within ourselves. I focus on two - one-way reductionism and myopic specialisation.
Nearly two hundred years ago, Mary Wollstonecraft wrote what is considered to be the first major work of feminist political theory: A Vindication of the Rights of Women . Much has been written about this work, and about Wollstonecraft as the intellectual pioneer of feminism, but the actual substance and coherence of her political thought have been virtually ignored. Virginia Sapiro here provides the first full-length treatment of Wollstonecraft's political theory. Drawing on all of Wollstonecraft's works and treating them (...) thematically rather than sequentially, Sapiro shows that Wollstonecraft's ideas about women's rights, feminism, and gender are elements of a broad and fully developed philosophy, one with significant implications for contemporary democratic and liberal theory. The issues raised speak to many current debates in theory, including those surrounding interpretation of the history of feminism, the relationship between liberalism and republicanism in the development of political philosophy, and the debate over the canon. For political scientists, most of whom know little about Wollstonecraft's thought, Sapiro's book is an excellent, nuanced introduction which will cause a reconsideration of her work and her significance both for her time and for today's concerns. For feminist scholars, Sapiro's book offers a rounded and unconventional analysis of Wollstonecraft's thought. Written with considerable charm and verve, this book will be the starting point for understanding this important writer for years to come. (shrink)