There is growing interest in the effect of sound on visual motion perception. One model involves the illusion created when two identical objects moving towards each other on a two-dimensional visual display can be seen to either bounce off or stream through each other. Previous studies show that the large bias normally seen toward the streaming percept can be modulated by the presentation of an auditory event at the moment of coincidence. However, no reports to date provide sufficient evidence to (...) indicate whether the sound bounce-inducing effect is due to a perceptual binding process or merely to an explicit inference resulting from the transient auditory stimulus resembling a physical collision of two objects. In the present study, we used a novel experimental design in which a subliminal sound was presented either 150 ms before, at, or 150 ms after the moment of coincidence of two disks moving towards each other. The results showed that there was an increased perception of bouncing when the subliminal sound was presented at or 150 ms after the moment of coincidence compared to when no sound was presented. These findings provide the first empirical demonstration that activation of the human auditory system without reaching consciousness affects the perception of an ambiguous visual motion display. (shrink)
The Universe is One places the ancient synthesis of Stoicism, Platonism, Judaism, and Christianity in active dialogue with modern process science in order to conjoin science, philosophy, and theology into the human quest for meaning. Paul A. Olivier proposes a comprehensive theory of knowledge, which he expands into a theory of life, correlating modern process science and the western-Judeo-Christian heritage into a grand theory of the Universe. He brings together the ideas of influential thinkers from the world of science (...) with those from the world of New Testament studies. Olivier clearly explains concepts from diverse fields to construct a satisfying theory of knowledge and life. He accomplishes this through an examination of the dominance of polarity in all aspects of the universe, such as chaos and order, predictability and unpredictability. Through this complex blend of opposites Olivier develops his theory as an interaction of Word and Spirit that provides the Universe with everything necessary to account for its creation and ongoing evolution. The Universe continually creates and sustains itself out of its own internal necessity coupled paradoxically with the fluidity of its own inherent unpredictability. (shrink)
The hopes and fears expressed in the debate on human enhancement are not always based on a realistic assessment of the expected possibilities. Discussions about extreme scenarios may at times obscure the ethical and policy issues that are relevant today. This paper aims to contribute to an adequate and ethically sound societal response to actual current developments. After a brief outline of the ethical debate concerning neuro-enhancement, it describes the current state of the art in psychopharmacological science and current uses (...) of psychopharmacological enhancement, as well as the prospects for the near future. It then identifies ethical issues regarding psychopharmacological enhancements that require attention from policymakers, both on the professional and on the governmental level. These concern enhancement research, the gradual expansion of medical categories, off-label prescription and responsibility of doctors, and accessibility of enhancers on the Internet. It is concluded that further discussion on the advantages and drawbacks of enhancers on a collective social level is still needed. (shrink)
In Why pains are not mental objects Guy Douglasrightly argues that pains are modes rather than objects ofperceptions or sensations. In this paper I try to go a stepfurther and argue that there are circumstances when pains canbecome objects even while they remain modes of experience.By analysing cases of extreme pain as presented by Scarry,Sartre, Wiesel, Grahek and Wall, I attempt to show thatintense physical pain may evolve into a force that, likeimagination, can make our most intense state of experiencebecome (...) a mental object. I shall finally argue that, thoughextreme pains cannot serve as paradigm cases, they do showthe general importance of taking pain states to be objects. (shrink)
This paper describes the construction method of a legal application ontology. This method is based on the merging of micro-ontologies built from European community directives. The terminae construction method from texts enhanced by an alignment process with a core legal ontology is used for building micro-ontologies. A merging process allows constructing the legal ontology.
This paper addresses two issues. The first part deals with the classic question of human nature by focussing on the problem of human consciousness, in particular, the relationship between subjective and intentional consciousness. I argue for an essential link between subjectivity and intentionality by suggesting a phenomenological conception of the human condition. On this basis, the second part deals with what I call ‘humane’ ethics. This part shows that my conception of the human condition contains a humane approach to morality.
The thought of the psychoanalytical thinker, Jacques Lacan, is examined in this paper with a view to ascertaining the place and function of the so-called imaginary in it, the symbolic as well as the 'real'. The extent to which the imaginary or realm of images is construed by Lacan as being the order of identification and a (spurious) sense of unity of the ego or self, is contrasted with the symbolic (or linguistic) order as that of the subject and of (...) desire, in fact, of the subject of desire. The place and meaning of the enigmatic third register in Lacan's thought, namely the 'real', is also addressed in relation to the question of desire. Furthermore, the question is raised, where philosophy in its traditional sense belongs – to the Lacanian register of the imaginary or to that of the symbolic. S. Afr. J. Philos. Vol.23(1) 2004: 1–19. (shrink)
Although living conditions have improved throughout history, protest, at least in the last few decades, seems to have increased to the point of becoming a normal phenomenon in modern societies. Contributors to this volume examine how and why this is the case and argue that although problems such as poverty, hunger, and violations of democratic rights may have been reduced in advanced Western societies, a variety of other problems and opportunities have emerged and multiplied the reasons and possibilities for protest.
Conscious awareness comprises two distinct states, autonoetic and noetic awareness. Schizophrenia impairs autonoetic, but not noetic, awareness. We investigated the strategic regulation of relevant and irrelevant contents of conscious awareness in schizophrenia using a directed forgetting paradigm. Twenty-one patients with schizophrenia and 21 normal controls were presented with words and told to learn some of them and forget others. In a subsequent test, they were asked to recognize all the words they had seen previously and give remember, know or guess (...) responses according to whether they recognized words on the basis of autonoetic awareness, noetic awareness, or guessing. Overall, patients showed the same degree of a directed forgetting effect as normal subjects. However, whereas the effect was observed both for remember and know responses in normal subjects, it was observed for know, but not for remember, responses in patients. These results indicate that patients with schizophrenia exhibit an impaired strategic regulation of contents of autonetic awareness for relevant and irrelevant information. (shrink)
Steven Spielberg’s AI – Artificial Intelligence, and Alex Proyas’s neo-noir, I, Robot, may both be understood as attempts to answer the question: ‘What conditions doesartificial intelligence research have to satisfy before it can justly claim to have producedsomething which truly simulates a human being?’1I would like to show that, farfrom construing this question simply in terms of intelligence, the films in questiondemonstrate that far more than this is at stake, and each articulates the ‘more’ in different,but related, terms. Moreover, contrary (...) to what viewers may suspect, neither film claimsthat the achievement of this goal is actualisable; rather, it posits a goal for artificialintelligence research by which it could measure its progress.2. (shrink)
This article focuses in a comparative manner on the thought of Merleau-Ponty and Lyotard with a view to lending sup port to Busch's claim, that 'existentialism' preceded poststructuralism and postmodernism as far as criticism of certain features of modern philosophy are concerned. Attention is first given to Lyotard's critique of artificial intelligence, especially in so far as it displays a dependence on and development of insights on the part of Merleau-Ponty's phenomenological-existential understanding of human embodiment and the specificity of human (...) perception. The focus then shifts to Merleau-Ponty in order to demonstrate the remarkable extent to which his understanding of human embodiment and related issues such as perception and creativity, paved the way for the work of, among others, Lyotard, and anticipated the critique of artificial intelligence on the part of the latter. S. Afr. J. Philos. Vol.21(1) 2002: 45-62. (shrink)
Joan Copjec has shown that modernity is privy to a notion of immortality all its own – one that differs fundamentally from any counterpart entertained in Greek antiquity or the Christian Middle Ages. She points to Blumenberg and Lefort as thinkers who have construed this concept in its modern guise in different ways, and ultimately opts for Lefort's paradoxical understanding of immortality as the ‘transcending of time, within time' before elaborating on a corresponding notion in Lacan's work. It can be (...) shown that Nietzsche, too, provides a distinctly modern conception of ‘immortality', articulated in relation to his notions of affirmation, singularity and eternal recurrence. In brief, this amounts to his claim that, to affirm even one single part or event in one's life entails affirming it in its entirety, and, in so doing – given the interconnectedness of events – affirming all that has ever existed. Moreover, once anything has existed, it is in a certain sense, for Nietzsche, necessary despite its temporal singularity. Therefore, to be able to rise to the task of affirming certain actions or experiences in one's own life, bestows on it not merely this kind of necessary singularity, but what he thought of as ‘eternal recurrence' – the (ethical) affirmation of the desire to embrace one's own, and together with it, all of existence ‘eternally', over and over. This, it is argued, may be understood as Nietzsche's distinctive contribution to a specifically modern notion of immortality: the ability of an individual to live in such a way that his or her singular ‘place' in society is ensured, necessarily there, even after his or her death. South African Journal of Philosophy Vol. 26 (1) 2007: pp. 70-84. (shrink)
The present paper is an investigation into the links between Gadamer's conception of the mode of being of art in terms of 'play', and related models in the thought of some of his philosophical precursors, notably Kant and Heidegger. Due attention is given to the shift, in Gadamer's work, to a less subject-oriented approach to art, compared to those of Kant and Schiller, and the extent to which his own views were shaped by Heidegger's move away from subjectivism is emphasized. (...) The place of the concept of 'tradition' in Gadamer's work is also examined with a view to casting light on his own appropriation of the (art-)philosophical tradition. Lastly, an interpretation of a specific instance of innovative art practice (the multi- installation, Body II – Sublimation, which was exhibited at this year's KKNK at Oudtshoorn, South Africa) is attempted in light of what the investigation into 'art as play' and the role of tradition has yielded. S. Afr. J. Philos. Vol.21(4) 2002: 242-257. (shrink)
In his latest book, entitled “Sweet dreams”, Daniel Dennett confirms and expands on his argument for a natural science of human consciousness. He dubs his view heterophenomenology: a third-person, scientific form of phenomenological description that can account for the most private and ineffable subjective experiences. A central part of his book consists of a reinvention of Jackson's thought experiment about color blind scientist, Mary, who tries to figure out what color experience is like. I explore another variation of this thought (...) experiment asking whether an informed but inexperienced Mary can really know what it is like to have sex. My contention is that while Dennett's third-person approach to consciousness is valid on an epistemic level, it fails ontologically. Mary does miss something if she knows all about but does not have experience of the real thing. The opposite goes for Merleau-Ponty whose first-person ontology does not account for third-person epistemology. The question is ultimately how far a science of consciousness is really possible. This paper enquires about the possibility of an approach that allows a scientific account of consciousness, specifically qualia, without dissolving the ontology of subjective experience. I suggest a possible direction that new work on the hard problem of consciousness might take. (shrink)
This paper addresses the question regarding the relation between capitalism and nature, on the one hand, and that of the continued existence of life, including humankind, on earth in light of the disturbing evidence that has emerged since the early 1970s, concerning massive environmental degradation, on the other. It is argued that the evidence of such destruction is there for every one to see; what is less obvious – in fact, mostly ignored or denied – is the connection between capital (...) as a process which either grows, or dies, and the devastating effect of such uncontrollable growth on geo-ecology (where a distinction is made between ecology and environment in terms of the relations of interdependence by which the former is characterised). Ironically, as far back as 1972 the ‘Club of Rome' warned against the dangers of ‘unlimited growth'. The paper draws substantially, but not exclusively, on the work of Joel Kovel, who argues in favour of what he terms eco-socialism as the best kind of alternative to capitalism. Needless to say, this entails an understanding of the latter, in an encompassing sense as a state of being, instead of in a narrow economistic sense. It also requires that one should distinguish clearly between a mechanistic conception of nature (the Cartesian) that seems to legitimize its exploitation for human use and eventual degradation, on the one hand, and another (Kantian) conception which makes room for the inscrutability of a natural purposiveness that transcends human cognition. S. Afr. J. Philos. Vol.24(2) 2005: 121-136. (shrink)
This paper addresses the question of evil from an ethical and discourse-analytical perspective, taking Joan Copjec's commentary on Kant's notion of ‘radical evil' and its relation to human freedom as its point of departure. Specifically, Copjec's argument, that for Kant (and, one may add, for Lacan) the subject is always ‘in excess of itself', provides an important foil for, or corrective to what may seem to be the upshot of Foucault's notion of discourse (its heuristic value notwithstanding). The latter entails (...) that, insofar as the subject is ineluctably discursively constructed, its actions could be understood as being ‘determined' by the discursive structure of (its) subjectivity. That is, the subject as agent may seem to lack volitional freedom in the sense that it is merely an instrument of a certain discourse by which it is ‘spoken'. However, Kant's idea of ‘radical evil', it is further argued, presupposes that the subject is free, in other words, that it always exceeds itself. In Foucault's terms, this would mean that the subject of discourse is able to adopt a counter-discursive position – something Foucault sometimes seems to make room for. What Kant calls ‘radical evil' may be understood as something that occurs in the world through human agency, in the face of the possibility of an alternative course of action; that is, it is chosen – even if we only know this in retrospect through the phenomenon of guilt. If, in contrast, it is understood as being ‘diabolical' in the sense of being unavoidably and irresistibly part and parcel of human ‘nature', no one could condemn it in moral terms. This line of thinking is fleshed out, or given concrete significance by means of a discourse-analysis of documents pertaining to the so-called ‘ripper-rapist' (criminal) case in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, in the mid-1990s. S. Afr. J. Philos. Vol.22(4) 2003: 328-347. (shrink)
This paper explores links between Heidegger's notion of language and views in African philosophy. My contention is that Heidegger's daring phenomenology of language is also found and even radicalised within the framework of African philosophy, particularly the philosophy of myth. I argue that the exploration of the relation between these views of language offers the possibility not only to expand on the conventional conception of language but also to challenge the common notion of philosophical language and philosophy as such. South (...) African Journal of Philosophy Vol. 27 2008: pp. 310-324. (shrink)
In this paper Nietzsche's physiology of pain is critically related to recent theories of neurology of pain. Nietzsche offers no encompassing notion of a neurology of pain like the well-known theories of, for instance, Melzack and Wall do. But, as will be shown, Nietzsche's notion of physiology offers a productive connection with contemporary neurology, particularly with Wall's newest notion of the neurology of pain. Thus I shall not discuss Nietzsche's view on science in general, but the possible application of his (...) philosophy to a particular science. (shrink)
How far can one ascribe a spatial meaning to pain? When I have a pain, for instance, in my leg, how should one understand the “in” in the “pain in my leg”? I argue (contrary to Noordhof) that pain does have a spatial meaning, but (contrary to Tye) that the spatiality of pain is not to be understood in the standard sense of spatial enclosure. Instead, spatiality has a special meaning with regard to pain. By defining pain in phenomenological terms (...) as a disturbed form of bodily perception, I contend that the “in” in “pain in my body” has a dual spatial meaning: firstly, it signifies my internal perceptual relation to a disturbing part of my body; secondly, it denotes the external perceptual relation to my environment that the disturbance forces me to take. Once the spatiality of pain is understood in terms of such a perceptual relation, it is not restricted to localisable hurts, but pertains to all forms of pain, such as affliction and agony. South African Journal of Philosophy Vol. 25 (4) 2006: pp. 336-349. (shrink)
In times in which we ask ourselves how political cruelty and torments can be forgotten, Nietzsche's pleadoyer for pain to serve the purpose of education, surprises. What might sound like a mere provocation, rather lies at the heart of the Nietzschean philosophy. As is pointed out, Nietzsche's contention that pain is the most powerful aid to mnemonics, originates from his philosophy of pain as the main condition of all forms of creation. The title “educating (bilden) pain” expresses Nietsche's advocacy of (...) an education towards pain as the dynamo of creation. In this paper I explore how Nietzsche's notion of pain is linked to two concepts of Bildung. In the first part I investigate the relation between pain and “Bildung” in the sense of “creation”, and in the second part I link this to the relation between pain and “Bildung” in the sense of “education”. By these means, I try to answer the question: how far can pain, which is seen as the condition of creation, be linked to conditions of education. S. Afr. J. Philos. Vol.21(2) 2002: 122-132. (shrink)
The present paper is a reading of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s recent film, A Very Long Engagement, mainly through the lenses of Jacques Lacan’s psychoanalytical theory of the human subject—particularly his notion of the subject’s desire, which constitutes every human subject as a singular being. Moreover, for Lacan the subject faces the task of taking up his or her desire as a prerequisite for truly ethical action. The character of Mathilde in Jeunet’s film, it is argued, may be seen as being paradigmatic (...) in this respect, insofar as she acts in accordance with her desire. This is demonstrated with reference to the narrative structure of Jeunet’s film. (shrink)
Recordings of neuronal activity in the monkey superior colliculus (SC) suggest that the two apparently independent effects of a visual distractor on both temporal (latency) and spatial (metrics) saccade parameters may be the result of lateral interactions between subpopulations of saccade-related neurons located at different sites on the motor map of the superior colliculus. One subpopulation is activated during the planing and initiation of a saccade; the other is activated by the appearance of a distractor. The inhibitory or facilitative nature (...) of this interaction depends on the distance between the distractor and the target and is consistent with the complex pattern of intrinsic and commissural collicular connections. (shrink)
Animal people are usually confident that Cartesianism is something of the past and that modern science clearly establishes that animals are sentient beings. But actually the scientific status of sentience is anything but firmly established. Not only is the subjective point of view absent from current science; it is precluded by construction from our fundamental realms of knowledge. Physics — the mother-science once we reject Cartesian dualism — is currently unable to include sentience in its account of the world. A (...) large part of the philosophy of mind describes a mindless mind, from which subjectivity — feeling, qualia — has been stripped, leaving only in place functional relations. This situation paves the way for discourses in which sentience seems to escape the realm of knowledge to fall into that of private beliefs, which individuals can choose as freely as their religion. This is a real obstacle to having animal sentience taken seriously; as such it has been largely underestimated. We believe it necessary for the movement for animals to understand that it cannot by-pass the “mind-matter” problem. We must not allow the existence and relevance of animal sentience to be denied in the name of science. One path we are contemplating is a “Declaration on Sentience” in which scientists and other thinkers would subscribe to the following assertion: sentience is an objective reality of the world and belongs to the realm of science. Despite the current intractability of the “mind-matter” problem, we do have something on our side. Although we cannot prove the reality of sentience, we can show it impossible for anyone to disbelieve in it — just as no one can really disbelieve in the reality of the physical world. We thus have enough reasons to reject the main ways in which sentience is denied or dismissed in many realms of current philosophy or science. These reasons are based on our own situation as sentient and deliberative beings. (shrink)