What was René Girard’s attitude towards philosophy? What philosophers influenced him? What stance did he take in the philosophical debates of his time? What are the philosophical questions raised by René Girard’s anthropology? In this interview, Paul Dumouchel sheds light on these issues.
In this article we tackle the core question of machine emotion research – “Can machines have emotions?” – in the context of “social robots”, a new class of machines designed to function as “social partners” for humans. Our aim, however, is not to provide an answer to the question “Can robots have emotions?” Rather we argue that the “robotics of emotion” moves us to reformulate it into a different one – “Can robots affectively coordinate with humans?” Developing a series of (...) arguments relevant to theory of emotion, philosophy of AI, and the epistemology of synthetic models, we argue that the answer to this different question is positive, and that it lays grounds for an innovative ethical approach to emotional robots. This ethical project, which we introduced elsewhere as “synthetic ethics”, rejects the diffused ethical condemnation of emotional robots as “cheating” technology. Synthetic ethics focuses not on an ideological refusal, but on the concrete sustainability of the emerging mixed human-robot social ecologies. On this basis, in contrast to a purely negative ethical approach to social robotics it promotes an analytical case by case ethical inquiry into the type of human flourishing that can result from human-robot affective coordination. (shrink)
As the vulgar generally look no higher for the original of moral good and evil, just and unjust, than the codes and pandects, the tables and laws of their country and religion, so there have not wanted pretended philosophers in all ages who have asserted nothing to be good and evil, just and unjust, naturally and immutably; but that these things were positive, arbitrary and factitious only.1 In this short presentation I want to propose a sketch of what “naturalizing ethics (...) from a Girardian perspective” would look like. My goal is not to engage in a Girardian tentative at naturalizing ethics, but rather to contrast what such a project entails in comparison with some of the current attempts at .. (shrink)
Human beings, after all, provide for each other the most ingenious obstacles to what partial knowledge and minimal rationality they can hope to command.We tend to have a romantic view of liars, or rather of those who lie, and of how and of why they and we lie. A romantic view in the sense in which Girard uses that term in Deceit, Desire, and the Novel, whose French title was Mensonge romantique et vérité romanesque, that is, "Romantic lie and novelistic (...) truth." Our common paradigm of the lie is willful deceit. We think the liar knows the truth, but he or she willfully hides it. The liar misrepresents what is the case to manipulate others to his or her own advantage. The liar knows something that we do not know;... (shrink)
Living with the Robots. A Conversation about social Robotics This interview aims at focusing some aspects of an intriguing discipline known as social Robotics. In particular, we try to get familiar with concepts and philosophical frameworks which deal with this new human enterprise. Paul Dumouchel and Luisa Damiano will help us to get in contact with a scenario in which emotions, reason and ethics will be partially revised by a somehow different perspective about human-robot interaction and sociality.
First published in French in 1979, “The Ambivalence of Scarcity” was a groundbreaking work on mimetic theory. Now expanded upon with new, specially written, and never-before-published conference texts and essays, this revised edition explores René Girard’s philosophy in three sections: economy and economics, mimetic theory, and violence and politics in modern societies. The first section argues that though mimetic theory is in many ways critical of modern economic theory, this criticism can contribute to the enrichment of economic thinking. The second (...) section explores the issues of nonviolence and misrecognition, which have been at the center of many discussions of Girard’s work. The final section proposes mimetic analyses of the violence typical of modern societies, from high school bullying to genocide and terrorist attacks. Politics, Dumouchel argues, is a violent means of protecting us from our own violent tendencies, and it can at times become the source of the very savagery from which it seeks to protect us. The book’s conclusion analyzes the relationship between ethics and economics, opening new avenues of research and inviting further exploration. Dumouchel’s introduction reflects on the importance of René Girard’s work in relation to ongoing research, especially in social sciences and philosophy. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: A quick survey of the literature reveals that authors disagree as to which sentiments are moral and which are not, they disagee as to how to distinguish between moral and other sentiments, and finally that often the same author will claim a sentiment is moral at some times but not at others. These difficulties arise, I argue, from an underlying concept of emotion that I call atomism. Viewing emotions as means of coordination among agents, rather than as psychic atoms, (...) suggests a radically different approach to the question of morality and affects, one where emotions pave the way for normative expectations. (shrink)
The idea of artificial intelligence implies the existence of a form of intelligence that is “natural,” or at least not artificial. The problem is that intelligence, whether “natural” or “artificial,” is not well defined: it is hard to say what, exactly, is or constitutes intelligence. This difficulty makes it impossible to measure human intelligence against artificial intelligence on a unique scale. It does not, however, prevent us from comparing them; rather, it changes the sense and meaning of such comparisons. Comparing (...) artificial intelligence with human intelligence could allow us to understand both forms better. This paper thus aims to compare and distinguish these two forms of intelligence, focusing on three issues: forms of embodiment, autonomy and judgment. Doing so, I argue, should enable us to have a better view of the promises and limitations of present-day artificial intelligence, along with its benefits and dangers and the place we should make for it in our culture and society. (shrink)
This essay argues that Laudan et al.?s (1986,1988) project of empirically testing philosophical models of scientific change was ill?conceived, thus the data brought to light by the historians had little bearing upon the original problem: testing philosophical models of scientific change. The project is internally inconsistent and the procedure relating the theses under scrutiny to the models of change is so undefined that the corroboration or falsification of the theses teaches us nothing about the models. Serious anomalies in Laudan et (...) al.?s (1988) report of experimental results are then shown to be related to already noticed methodological difficulties. I conclude that the project fails, contrary to its authors? claim, to use historical evidence in a probative, rather than a simply illustrative, way. (shrink)
Following a suggestion from G. Bateson, this article enquires into the consequence of the idea of embodiment in philosophy of mind, taking seriously the notion of an ecology of mind. In the first half of this article, after distinguishing between the biological and the systemic approaches to ecology, I focus on three characteristics of the systemic approach. First, that a system is an abstract object that is multiply embodied in a collection of physically distinct heterogeneous objects. Second, that there is (...) a form of circular causality between the level of the elements and that of the system as a whole, as some characteristics of the elements partake in the explanation of how the system functions, while the requirement of the system explains why the elements have the characteristics that they do. The third is the ontological uncertainty that we sometimes find in ecology, where the same term is used to designate both a central component of the ecological system and the system as a whole. In the second half, beginning with a critique of the theory of mind approach, I look into the consequences of conceiving that mind is embodied in a collection of physically distinct heterogeneous objects that interact as elements of a system, rather than enclosed in an individual body. (shrink)
Avant de répondre à la question : qu’est-ce qu’une maladie mentale pour Pinel ? il convient de se demander qu’est-ce qu’une maladie pour lui ? Or la réponse à cette question indique premièrement que pour Pinel, il n’y a pas sens à établir une distinction radicale entre maladie mentale et maladie physique. Malgré le fait que la tradition voit en lui un des fondateurs de la psychiatrie en tant que discipline autonome, pour Pinel, l’aliénation ne constitue pas un type d’affection (...) radicalement différent de la maladie physique. Deuxièmement, elle montre que pour Pinel il n’y a pas de continuité entre le temps de la maladie et la temporalité subjective du patient. Ce qui veut dire que pour lui, contrairement à la tradition psychiatrique subséquente, il n’y a pas de lien explicatif entre le trouble mental et l’histoire du sujet.Before answering the question : what is mental illness according to Pinel, it is necessary to ask, what is a disease according to him ? The answer to that question indicates first of all that for Pinel there is no fundamental distinction between mental illness and physical disease. In spite of the fact that tradition sees in him one of the founders of modern psychiatry as an independent discipline, for him madness does not constitute a radically different type of disease. This inquiry also shows that for Pinel there is no continuity between the time in which the disease takes place and the subjective time of the patient’s history. Therefore for him, contrary to what is the case in the subsequent psychiatric tradition there is not relation of explanation between the history of the subject and mental illness. (shrink)
On the evening of May 2, 2011, President Obama announced that Osama bin Laden had been killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan, during a secret special mission carried out by a team of American Navy Seals. In his declaration he said, while talking especially to the families of the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attack on the twin towers, that “Justice has been done.” The next morning the New York Post headline read “Osama bin Laden Dead: Got Him, Vengeance at Last! The (...) U.S. Nails the Bastard.” So was this vengeance or was it justice? Or was it perhaps both, or neither? The Greeks had (at least) two words and two goddesses for justice: dike (Dike) and themis. Themis is the justice of the household, of the immediate .. (shrink)
Focusing on the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident, this article argues that there is or can be a form of reciprocity between the victims of a catastrophe and society at large to the extent that victims become the occasion and rationale for social reforms. The victims’ contribution to society in this case is the simple fact of being victims. Such a form of reciprocity requires a particular relation to time which Jean-Pierre Dupuy has recently analyzed. In the case of modern (...) risks such as nuclear risk, the contribution of the victims is not only to a better future, but also takes place in the present by rendering patent risks which, as Ulrich Beck argued, though they are known tend to remain socially invisible. (shrink)
Terrorism takes many forms and numerous actions which at first resemble terrorism are not defined as such and others which are quite different, are described as acts of terrorism. Why? This paper argues that different forms of terrorism are related to the changing structure of the modern state and especially that the close resemblance between many acts of terrorism (especially by lone wolves and mass murders) is related to the transformation of the state’s monopoly of legitimate violence.
Starting from an historical remark of R. Tuch (1993) concerning the relationship between Renaissance scepticism and the first social contract theories, this article defends the idea that the main difference between Hobbes's social contract theory and contemporary contractualism rests on the conception of reason. Comparing Hobbes and Rawls it shows that the first one rejects subjective theories of rationality and conceives the contract as a pre-condition of successfid individual rationality, which allows him both to escape sceptical and relativist criticisms and (...) to consider politics as an autonomous source of norms. /// Apoiando-se numa observação historica de R. Tuck (1993) acerca das relações entre o cepticismo saído do Renascimento e as primeiras teorias do contrato social, o presente artigo defende a tese de que a diferença fundamental entre a teoria hobbesiana do contrato e o contratualismo contemporâneo versa sobre a concepção da razão. Comparando Hobbes e Rawls acerca do contrato, o autor mostra até que ponto o filósofo de Malmsbury rejeita as teorias subjectivas da racionalidade fazendo do contrato a precondição para o exercício individual da razão, o que lhe permite simultaneamente evitar as críticas cépticas e relativistas e de considerar a política como uma fonte autónoma de normas. (shrink)