Theories of how organisms learn about cause-effect relations have a history dating back at least to the associationist/mechanistic hypothesis of David Hume. Some contemporary theories of causal learning are descendants of Hume's mechanistic models of conditioning, but others impute principled, rule-based reasoning. Since even primitive animals are conditionable, it is clear that there are built-in mechanical algorithms that respond to cause/effect relations. The evidence suggests that humans retain the use of such algorithms, which are surely adaptive when causal judgments must (...) be rapidly made. But we know very little about what these algorithms are and about when and with what ratiocinative procedures they are sometimes replaced. Nor do we know how the concept of causation originates in humans. To clarify some of these issues, this paper surveys the literature and explores the behavioral predictions made by two contrasting theories of causal learning: the mechanical Rescorla-Wagner model and the sophisticated reasoning codified in Bayes' Theorem. (shrink)
Most philosophers writing about personal identity in recent years claim that what it takes for us to persist through time is a matter of psychology. In this groundbreaking new book, Eric Olson argues that such approaches face daunting problems, and he defends in their place a radically non-psychological account of personal identity. He defines human beings as biological organisms, and claims that no psychological relation is either sufficient or necessary for an organism to persist. Olson rejects several famous (...) thought-experiments dealing with personal identity. He argues, instead, that one could survive the destruction of all of one's psychological contents and capabilities as long as the human organism remains alive--as long as its vital functions, such as breathing, circulation, and metabolism, continue. (shrink)
Wittgenstein finished part 1 of the Philosophical Investigations in the spring of 1945. From 1946 to 1949 he worked on the philosophy of psychology almost without interruption. The present two-volume work comprises many of his writings over this period. Some of the remarks contained here were culled for part 2 of the Investigations ; others were set aside and appear in the collection known as Zettel . The great majority, however, although of excellent quality, have hitherto remained unpublished. This (...) bilingual edition of the Remarks on the Philosophy of Psychology presents the first English translation of an essential body of Wittegenstein's work. It elaborates Wittgenstein's views on psychological concepts such as expectation, sensation, knowing how to follow a rule, and knowledge of the sensations of other persons. It also shows strong emphasis on the "anthropological" aspect of Wittgenstein's thought. Philosophers, as well as anthropologists, psychologists, and sociologists will welcome this important publication. (shrink)
Traditionally, the philosophical study of Folk Psychology has focused on how ordinary people (i.e., those without formal training in academic fields like Psychology, Cognitive Science, Philosophy of Mind, etc.) go about attributing mental states. Those working in this tradition have tended to focus primarily on intentional states, like beliefs and desires . Recently, though a body of work has emerged in the growing field of Experimental Philosophy that focuses on folk attributions of mental states that are not paradigmatically (...) considered intentional. This emerging discussion is concerned with figuring out how (and whether) ordinary people go about attributing mental states of qualitative experience, or what philosophers might call states of phenomenal consciousness . This paper briefly describes some of the primary works in the existing experimental philosophy literature and presents new experimental data that weigh on those hypotheses. Finally, it offers a cognitive model of the processes underlying attributions of mental states, called the Agency Model. (shrink)
This is one of several papers by the author that seek to throw light on the psychology of philosophers. In this paper, certain of the defining properties of clinical narcissism are discussed in their application to the ideological position-taking character of many philosophers and the philosophies they propound.
This book attempts to synthesize two apparently contradictory views of psychology: as the science of internal mental mechanisms and as the science of complex external behavior. Most books in the psychology and philosophy of mind reject one approach while championing the other, but Rachlin argues that the two approaches are complementary rather than contradictory. Rejection of either involves disregarding vast sources of information vital to solving pressing human problems--in the areas of addiction, mental illness, education, crime, and decision-making, (...) to name but a few. Where previous books have focused either on psychology as an abstract science of the mind or as a strictly empirical approach to behavioral problems, this is the only book that attempts to show how the best modern theoretical work on mental mechanisms relates to the best modern empirical work on complex behavioral problems. It will be of considerable interest to psychologists and philosophers across many disciplines and perspectives. (shrink)
According to explanatory individualism, every action must be explained in terms of an agent's desire. According to explanatory nonindividualism, we sometimes act on our desires, but it is also possible for us to act on others' desires without acting on desires of our own. While explanatory nonindividualism has guided the thinking of many social scientists, it is considered to be incoherent by most philosophers of mind who insist that actions must be explained ultimately in terms of some desire of (...) the agent. In the first part of the paper, I show that some powerful arguments designed to demonstrate the incoherence of explanatory nonindividualism fail. In the second part of the paper, I offer a nonindividualist explanation of the apparent obviousness of belief-desire psychology. I argue that there are two levels of the intelligibility of our actions. On the more fundamental (explanatory) level, the question "Why did the agent do something?" admits a variety of folk-psychological categories. But there is another (formation-of-self) level, at which the same question admits only of answers that ultimately appeal only to the agent's own desires. Explanatory individualism results from the confusion of the two levels. (shrink)
An organizing theme of the dissertation is the issue of how to make philosophical theories useful for scientific purposes. An argument for the contention is presented that it doesn’t suffice merely to theoretically motivate one’s theories, and make them compatible with existing data, but that philosophers having this aim should ideally contribute to identifying unique and hard to vary predictions of their theories. This methodological recommendation is applied to the ranking-theoretic approach to conditionals, which emphasizes the epistemic relevance and (...) the expression of reason relations as part of the semantics of the natural language conditional. As a first step, this approach is theoretically motivated in a comparative discussion of other alternatives in psychology of reasoning, like the suppositional theory of conditionals, and novel approaches to the problems of compositionality and accounting for the objective purport of indicative conditionals are presented. In a second step, a formal model is formulated, which allows us to derive quantitative predictions from the ranking-theoretic approach, and it is investigated which novel avenues of empirical research that this model opens up for. Finally, a treatment is given of the problem of logical omniscience as it concerns the issue of whether ranking theory (and other similar approaches) makes too idealized assumptions about rationality to allow for interesting applications in psychology of reasoning. Building on the work of Robert Brandom, a novel solution to this problem is presented, which both opens up for new perspectives in psychology of reasoning and appears to be capable of satisfying a range of constraints on bridge principles between logic and norms of reasoning, which would otherwise stand in a tension. (shrink)
To address the title question, the authors first conceptualize the worldview of theism in relation to its historical counterpart in Western culture, naturalism. Many scholars view the worldview of naturalism as not only important to traditional science but also neutral to theism. This neutrality has long provided the justification for psychological science to inform and even correct theistic understandings. Still, this view of neutrality, as the authors show, stems from the presumption that these two worldviews are philosophically compatible. The authors’ (...) review of the traditional candidates for compatibility suggests not only that these candidates fail to reconcile naturalism and theism but also that these worldviews are fundamentally incompatible. Therefore, attempts to use the insights gleaned from a naturalistic worldview to inform or correct the understandings of a theistic worldview could constitute a significant prejudice against theism and theists. The authors then provide practical examples of this prejudice in the following: mainstream psychology and its history, research design and explanation in the psychology of religion, and interpretations of important philosophers and scholars relevant to psychology. 2012 APA, all rights reserved). (shrink)
Folk psychological realism is the view that folk psychology is true and that people really do have propositional attitudes, whereas anti-realism is the view that folk psychology is false and people really do not have propositional attitudes. We argue that anti-realism is not worthy of acceptance and that realism is eminently worthy of acceptance. However, it is plainly epistemically possible to favor either of two forms of folk realism: scientific or non-scientific. We argue that non-scientific realism, while perhaps (...) unpopular among philosophers of mind, is a distinct form of realism from scientific realism, and that it is not yet knowable whether scientific or non-scientific realism is true. We also outline how adopting realism, but remaining neutral between scientific and non-scientific realism, offers fresh insights into such topics as instrumentalism, supervenience, the language of thought hypothesis, and elimin-ativism. (shrink)
It has often been argued, by philosophers and more recently by developmental psychologists, that our common-sense conception of the mind should be regarded as a scientific theory. However, those who advance this view rarely say much about what they take a scientific theory to be. In this paper, I look at one specific proposal as to how we should interpret the theory view of folk psychology--namely, by seeing it as having a structure analogous to that of a Lakatosian (...) research program. I argue that although the Lakatosian model may seem promising--particularly to those who are interested in studying the development of children's understanding of the mind--the analogy between Lakatosian research programs and folk psychology cannot be made good because folk psychology does not possess anything analogous to the positive heuristic of a Lakatosian research program. I also argue that Lakatos' account of theories may not be the best one for developmental psychologists to adopt because of the emphasis which Lakatos places on the social embeddedness of scientific theorising. (shrink)
Proposes the path for understanding human existence developed by M. Merleau-Ponty as a replacement for the paths historically employed by psychology. Descartes established the agenda for modernistic philosophy when he proposed that the task of philosophy is to provide a foundation on which assurances of certain truth can be built. Modernist philosophers diverged, following the paths of sensation and of reason . Postmodernists argue that Descartes's agenda was misguided and that there is no foundation for certain knowledge. They (...) set upon the path of language which led them to the dismissal of the human S. Merleau-Ponty explored the path of the lived body in which thought and extension are intertwined, and along which is located the human S in its temporality and embodiment. The path of embodiment is held to be a more fruitful path than the path of language. 2012 APA, all rights reserved). (shrink)
The problem of methodological pluralism in psychology is addressed. The dominant paradigm, in which experimental methods are assigned top priority and quantification is preferred over qualitative methods, is no longer tenable in light of criticisms by philosophers of science and psychologists. The emergence of a panoply of alternative methods is reviewed and the problems of constructionism, eclecticism, and fragmentation are delineated. Solutions based on an indigenous epistemological foundation for psychology are sought in Continental philosophy. The commensurability of (...) experimental, psychoanalytic, and phenomenological psychologies is explored in an effort to secure unity among diverse methods. Educational requirements for a new kind of scientific research in the twenty-first century are discussed. 2012 APA, all rights reserved). (shrink)
Several philosophers have recently claimed to have discovered a new and rather significant problem with virtue ethics. According to them, virtue ethics generates certain expectations about the behavior of human beings which are subject to empirical testing. But when the relevant experimental work is done in social psychology, the results fall remarkably short of meeting those expectations. So, these philosophers think, despite its recent success, virtue ethics has far less to offer to contemporary ethical theory than might (...) have been initially thought. I argue that there are plausible ways in which virtue ethicists can resist arguments based on empirical work in social psychology. In the first three sections of the paper, I reconstruct the line of reasoning being used against virtue ethics by looking at the recent work of Gilbert Harman and John Doris. The remainder of the paper is then devoted both to responding to their challenge as well as to briefly sketching a positive account of character trait possession. (shrink)
The monograph’s twofold purpose is to recognize epistemological intelligence as a distinguishable variety of human intelligence, one that is especially important to philosophers, and to understand the challenges posed by the psychological profile of philosophers that can impede the development and cultivation of the skills associated with epistemological intelligence.
Freud claimed that the concept of drive is "at once the most important and the most obscure element of psychological research." It is hard to think of a better proof of Freud's claim than the work of Nietzsche, which provides ample support for the idea that the drive concept is both tremendously important and terribly obscure. Although Nietzsche's accounts of agency and value everywhere appeal to drives, the concept has not been adequately explicated. I remedy this situation by providing an (...) account of drives. I argue that Nietzschean drives are dispositions that generate evaluative orientations, in part by affecting perceptual saliences. In addition, I show that drive psychology has important implications for contemporary accounts of reflective agency. Contemporary philosophers often endorse a claim that has its origins in Locke and Kant: self-conscious agents are capable of reflecting on and thereby achieving a distance from their motives; therefore, these motives do not determine what the agent will do. Nietzsche's drive psychology shows that the inference in the preceding sentence is illegitimate. The drive psychology articulates a way in which motives can determine the agent's action by influencing the course of the agent's reflective deliberations. An agent who reflects on a motive and decides whether to act on it may, all the while, be surreptitiously guided by the very motive upon which he is reflecting. I show how this point complicates traditional models of the role of reflection in agency. (shrink)
This book offers the first sustained critique of individualism in psychology, a view that has been the subject of debate between philosophers such as Jerry Fodor and Tyler Burge for many years. The author approaches individualism as an issue in the philosophy of science and by discussing issues such as computationalism and the mind's modularity he opens the subject up for non-philosophers in psychology and computer science. Professor Wilson carefully examines the most influential arguments for individualism (...) and identifies the main metaphysical assumptions underlying them. Since the topic is so central to the philosophy of mind, a discipline generating enormous research and debate at present, the book has implications for a very broad range of philosophical issues including the naturalisation of intentionality, psychophysical supervenience, the nature of mental causation, and the viability of folk psychology. (shrink)
In preparation for examining the place of introspective evidence in scientific psychology, the chapter begins by clarifying what introspection has been supposed to show, and why some concluded that it couldn't deliver. This requires a brief excursus into the various uses to which introspection was supposed to have been put by philosophers and psychologists in the modern period, together with a summary of objections. It then reconstructs some actual uses of introspection (or related techniques, differently monikered) in the (...) early days of experimental psychology. It distinguishes broader and narrower conceptions of introspection and argues that recent critics have tended to misdescribe how introspection was supposed to work. Drawing upon the broader conception of introspection, it argues that introspective reports are ineliminable in perceptual psychology. It concludes with some examples of such ineliminable uses of introspective reports in both earlier and recent perceptual psychology. (shrink)
The central virtue at issue in recent philosophical discussions of the empirical adequacy of virtue ethics has been the virtue of compassion. Opponents of virtue ethics such as Gilbert Harman and John Doris argue that experimental results from social psychology concerning helping behavior are best explained not by appealing to so-called ‘global’ character traits like compassion, but rather by appealing to external situational forces or, at best, to highly individualized ‘local’ character traits. In response, a number of philosophers (...) have argued that virtue ethics can accommodate the empirical results in question. My own view is that neither side of this debate is looking in the right direction. For there is an impressive array of evidence from the social psychology literature which suggests that many people do possess one or more robust global character traits pertaining to helping others in need. But at the same time, such traits are noticeably different from a traditional virtue like compassion. (shrink)
My topic in this paper is social understanding. By this I mean the cognitive skills underlying social behaviour and social coordination. Normal, encultured, non-autistic and non-brain-damaged human beings are capable of an impressive degree of social coordination. We navigate the social world with a level of skill and dexterity fully comparable to that which we manifest in navigating the physical world. In neither sphere, one might think, would it be a trivial matter to identify the various competences which underly this (...) impressive level of performance. Nonetheless, at least as far as interpersonal interactions are concerned, philosophers show a rare degree of unanimity. What grounds our success in these interactions is supposed to be our common mastery of folk psychology. (shrink)
The Matter of the Mind addresses and illuminates the relationship between psychology and neuroscience by focusing on the topic of reduction. Written by leading philosophers in the field Discusses recent theorizing in the mind-brain sciences and reviews and weighs the evidence in favour of reductionism against the backdrop of recent important advances within psychology and the neurosciences Collects the latest work on central topics where neuroscience is now making inroads in traditional psychological terrain, such as adaptive behaviour, (...) reward systems, consciousness, and social cognition. (shrink)
This article critically examines the views that psychology first came into existence as a discipline ca. 1879, that philosophy and psychology were estranged in the ensuing decades, that psychology finally became scientific through the influence of logical empiricism, and that it should now disappear in favor of cognitive science and neuroscience. It argues that psychology had a natural philosophical phase (from antiquity) that waxed in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, that this psychology transformed into experimental (...)psychology ca. 1900, that philosophers and psychologists collaboratively discussed the subject matter and methods of psychology in the first two decades of the twentieth century, that the neobehaviorists were not substantively influenced by the Vienna Circle, that the study of perception and cognition in psychology did not disappear in the behaviorist period and so did not reemerge as a result of artificial intelligence, linguistics, and the computer analogy, that although some psychologists adopted the language-of-thought approach of traditional cognitive science, many did not, and that psychology will not go away because it contributes independently of cognitive science and neuroscience. (shrink)
Noam Chomsky’s well-known claim that linguistics is a “branch of cognitive psychology” has generated a great deal of dissent—not from linguists or psychologists, but from philosophers. Jerrold Katz, Scott Soames, Michael Devitt, and Kim Sterelny have presented a number of arguments, intended to show that this Chomskian hypothesis is incorrect. On both sides of this debate, two distinct issues are often conflated: (1) the ontological status of language and (2) the relation between psychology and linguistics. The ontological (...) issue is, I will argue, not the relevant issue in the debate. Even if this Chomskian position on the ontology of language is false, linguistics may still be a subfield of psychology if the relevant methods in linguistic theory construction are psychological. Two options are open to the philosopher who denies Chomskian conceptualism: linguistic nominalism or linguistic platonism. The former position holds that syntactic, semantic, and phonological properties are primarily properties, not of mental representations, but rather of public languagesentence tokens; The latter position holds that the linguistic properties are properties of public language sentence types. I will argue that both of these positions are compatible with Chomsky’s claim that linguistics is a branch of psychology, and the arguments that have been given for nominalism and platonism do not establish that linguistics and psychology are distinct disciplines. (shrink)
Corey W. Dyck presents a new account of Kant's criticism of the rational investigation of the soul in his monumental Critique of Pure Reason, in light of its eighteenth-century German context. When characterizing the rational psychology that is Kant's target in the Paralogisms of Pure Reason chapter of the Critique commentators typically only refer to an approach to, and an account of, the soul found principally in the thought of Descartes and Leibniz. But Dyck argues that to do so (...) is to overlook the distinctive rational psychology developed by Christian Wolff, which emphasized the empirical foundation of any rational cognition of the soul, and which was widely influential among eighteenth-century German philosophers, including Kant. In this book, Dyck reveals how the received conception of the aim and results of Kant's Paralogisms must be revised in light of a proper understanding of the rational psychology that is the most proximate target of Kant's attack. In particular, he contends that Kant's criticism hinges upon exposing the illusory basis of the rational psychologist's claims inasmuch as he falls prey to the appearance of the soul as being given in inner experience. Moreover, Dyck demonstrates that significant light can be shed on Kant's discussion of the soul's substantiality, simplicity, personality, and existence by considering the Paralogisms in this historical context.Readership: Scholars and advanced students in history of philosophy, especially those working on Kant. (shrink)
Nietzsche wrote in _Ecce Homo_, "That a psychologist without equal speaks from my writings—this is perhaps the first insight gained by a good reader.... Who among the philosophers before me was in any way a psychologist? Before me there simply was no psychology." _Composing the Soul_ is the first study to pay sustained attention to this pronouncement and to examine the contours of Nietzsche's psychology in the context of his life and psychological makeup. Beginning with essays from (...) Nietzsche's youth, Graham Parkes shows the influence of such figures as Goethe, Byron, and Emerson on Nietzsche's formidable and multiple talents. Parkes goes on to chart the development of Nietzsche's psychological ideas in terms of the imagery, drawn from the dialogues of Plato as well as from Nietzsche's own quasi-mystical experiences of nature, in which he spoke of the soul. Finally, Parkes analyzes Nietzsche's most revolutionary idea—that the soul is composed of multiple "drives," or "persons," within the psyche. The task for Nietzsche's psychology, then, was to identify and order these multiple persons within the individual—to compose the soul. Featuring all new translations of quotations from Nietzsche's writings, _Composing the Soul_ reveals the profundity of Nietzsche's lifelong personal and intellectual struggles to come to grips with the soul. Extremely well-written, this landmark work makes Nietzsche's life and ideas accessible to any reader interested in this much misunderstood thinker. (shrink)
Philosophers have traditionally used thought-experiments in their endeavours to find a satisfactory account of the self and personal identity. Yet there are considerations from empirical psychology as well as related ones from philosophy itself that appear to completely undermine the method of thought-experiment. This paper focuses on both sets of considerations and attempts a defence of the method.
I discuss what learned and innate routines of self and other attribution agents need to possess if they are to enter into cooperative arrangements as described game theoretically. I conclude that these are not so different from belief desire psychology as described by philosophers of mind.
This is an interdisciplinary collection of new essays by philosophers, psychologists, neuroscientists and historians on the question: What has determined and what should determine the territory or the boundaries of the discipline named "psychology"? Both the contents - in terms of concepts - and the methods - in terms of instruments - are analyzed. Among the contributors are Mitchell Ash, Paul Baltes, Jochen Brandtstädter, Gerd Gigerenzer, Michael Heidelberger, Gerhard Roth, and Thomas Sturm.
Psychology is the study of thinking, and cognitive science is the interdisciplinary investigation of mind and intelligence that also includes philosophy, artificial intelligence, neuroscience, linguistics, and anthropology. In these investigations, many philosophical issues arise concerning methods and central concepts. The Handbook of Philosophy of Psychology and Cognitive Science contains 16 essays by leading philosophers of science that illuminate the nature of the theories and explanations used in the investigation of minds. Topics discussed include representation, mechanisms, reduction, perception, (...) consciousness, language, emotions, neuroscience, and evolutionary psychology. Key Features - Comprehensive coverage of philosophy of psychology and cognitive science - Distinguished contributors: leading philosophers in this area - Contributions closely tied to relevant scientific research. (shrink)
There is a prevalent notion among cognitive scientists and philosophers of mind that computers are merely formal symbol manipulators, performing the actions they do solely on the basis of the syntactic properties of the symbols they manipulate. This view of computers has allowed some philosophers to divorce semantics from computational explanations. Semantic content, then, becomes something one adds to computational explanations to get psychological explanations. Other philosophers, such as Stephen Stich, have taken a stronger view, advocating doing (...) away with semantics entirely. This paper argues that a correct account of computation requires us to attribute content to computational processes in order to explain which functions are being computed. This entails that computational psychology must countenance mental representations. Since anti-semantic positions are incompatible with computational psychology thus construed, they ought to be rejected. Lastly, I argue that in an important sense, computers are not formal symbol manipulators. (shrink)
Many philosophers assume that philosophical theories about the psychological nature of moral judgment can be confirmed or disconfirmed by the kind of evidence gathered by natural and social scientists (especially experimental psychologists and neuroscientists). I argue that this assumption is mistaken. For the most part, empirical evidence can do no work in these philosophical debates, as the metaphorical heavy-lifting is done by the pre-experimental assumptions that make it possible to apply empirical data to these philosophical debates. For the purpose (...) of this paper, I emphasize two putatively empirically-supported theories about the psychological nature of moral judgment. The first is the Sentimental Rules Account, which is defended by Shaun Nichols. The second is defended by Jesse Prinz, and is a form of sentimentalist moral relativism. I show that both of the arguments in favour of these theories rely on assumptions which would be rejected by their philosophical opponents. Further, these assumptions carry substantive moral commitments and thus cannot be confirmed by further empirical investigation. Because of this shared methodological assumption, I argue that a certain form of empirical moral psychology rests on a mistake. (shrink)
The situationist movement in psychology and, more recently, in philosophy has been associated with a number of striking claims, including that most people do not have the moral virtues and vices, that any ethical theory which is wedded to such character traits is empirically inadequate, and that much of our behavior is causally influenced, to significant degrees, by psychological influences about which we are often unaware. Yet Christian philosophers have had virtually nothing to say about situationist claims. The (...) goal of this paper is to consider whether Christians should start to be worried about them. (shrink)
"Cognitive psychology," "cognitive neuroscience," and "philosophy of mind" are names for three very different scientific fields, but they label aspects of the same scientific goal: to understand the nature of mental phenomena. Today, the three disciplines strongly overlap under the roof of the cognitive sciences. The book's purpose is to present views from the different disciplines on one of the central theories in cognitive science: the theory of mental models. Cognitive psychologists report their research on the representation and processing (...) of mental models in human memory. Cognitive neuroscientists demonstrate how the brain processes visual and spatial mental models and which neural processes underlie visual and spatial thinking. Philosophers report their ideas about the role of mental models in relation to perception, emotion, representation, and intentionality. The single articles have different and mutually complementing goals: to introduce new empirical methods and approaches, to report new experimental results, and to locate competing approaches for their interpretation in the cross-disciplinary debate. The book is strongly interdisciplinary in character. It is especially addressed to researchers in any field related to mental models theory as both a reference book and an overview of present research on the topic in other disciplines. However, it is also an ideal reader for a specialized graduate course. (shrink)
I argue that Evolutionary Psychologists’ notion of adaptationism is closest to what Peter Godfrey-Smith (2001) calls explanatory adaptationism and as a result, is not a good organizing principle for research in the biology of human behavior. I also argue that adopting an alternate notion of adaptationism presents much more explanatory resources to the biology of human behavior. I proceed by introducing Evolutionary Psychology and giving some examples of alternative approaches to the biological explanation of human behavior. Next I characterize (...) adaptation and explain the range of biological phenomena that can count as adaptations. I go onto introduce the range of adaptationist views that have been distinguished by philosophers of biology and lay out explanatory adaptationism in detail. (shrink)
In De Anima, Aristotle, following his predecessor Plato, argues that the human soul has two parts, the rational and the irrational. Yet, unlike Plato, he thinks that the two parts necessarily form a unity. This is mostly evident in emotions, which seem to be constituted by both, a cognitive element, such as beliefs and expectations about one's situation, as well as, non-cognitive elements such as physical sensations. Indeed, in de Anima Aristotle argues that beliefs, bodily motion and physiological changes, constitute (...) the emotion. Hence, he avoids making sharp divisions between the cognitive (or rational) and non-cognitive or (non-rational) elements of emotion. Aristotle treats emotions as purposeful responses to our world, and in doing so, he avoids the problems that afflict the (until recently prominent) physiological theories according to which emotions are just irrational, uncontrolled responses to situations. Although our emotions can be irrational, more often than not they are rational. This is most evident in Aristotle's discussion in the Nicomachean Ethics, in which correct emotion is a large part of virtue. For instance, a courageous person when in a dangerous situation is neither fearless nor overwhelmed by fear. The complexity of Aristotle's view of emotion is nowhere more evident than in his analysis of anger in the Rhetoric. There, Aristotle argues that anger requires certain moral beliefs about the wrongness of contempt, spite and insolence, beliefs about our status and how we should be treated, a desire for revenge, and pleasure in the contemplation of revenge. Only the last thirty years or so psychologists and philosophers have started to develop theories of emotion of such complexity. Indeed, in psychology the prominent view seems to be the Schachter and Singer theory, which to a great extent resembles Aristotle's view. Schachter and Singer in their paper "Cognitive, Social and Physiological Determinants of Emotional State" argue against the then prominent James-Lange view, according to which emotions are bodily sensations and physiological changes. Schachter and Singer believe, like Aristotle, that emotions cannot be just dumb responses to situations. Although they recognize that emotion may be a physiological change or bodily sensation, they think that there must be another factor that would account for the variety of our emotions and our ability to distinguish and identify them. Schacther and Singer argue, as Aristotle did, that emotions involve both cognitive and non-cognitive elements in various degrees of complexity. According to them a subject identifies his physiological states of arousal as emotions in terms of the cognition offered to him or her. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate both views, and argue that Aristotle's account of emotion, not only resembles contemporary theories such as Schachter and Singer's, but also in many respects, it is paramount in complexity and insight. (shrink)
This is a unique study, contuining the work of Merleau-Ponty and Heidegger, and using the techniques of phenomenology against the prevailing nihilism of our culture. It expands our understanding of the human potential for spiritual self-realization by interpreting it as the developing of a bodily-felt awareness informing our gestures and movements. The author argues that a psychological focus on our experience of well-being and pathology as embodied beings contributes significantly to a historically relevant critique of ideology. It also provides an (...) essential touchstone in experience for a fruitful individual and collective response to the danger of nihilism. Dr Levin draws on Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology to clarify Heidegger's analytic of human beings through an interpretation that focuses on our experience of being embodied. He reconstructs in modern terms the wisdom implicit in western and semitic forms of religion and philosophy, considering the work of Freud, Jung, Focault and Neitzsche, as well as that of American educational philosophers, including Dewey. In particular, he draws on the psychology of Freud and Jung to clarify our historical experience of gesture and movement and to bring to light its potential in the fulfilment of Selfhood. Throughout the book, the pathologies of the ego and its journey into Selfhood are considered in relation to the conditons of technology and the powers of nihilism. (shrink)