The contributors to this volume examine recent controversies about the importance of common sense psychology for our understanding of the human mind. Common sense provides a familiar and friendly psychological scheme by which to talk about the mind. Its categories tend to portray the mind as quite different from the rest of nature, and thus irreducible to physical matters and its laws. In this volume a variety of positions on common sense psychology from critical to supportive, from exegetical to speculative, (...) are represented. Among the questions posed are: Is common sense psychology an empirical theory, a body of analytic knowledge, a practice or a strategy? If it is a legitimate enterprise can it be naturalized or not? If it is not legitimate can it be eliminated? Is its fate tied to our understanding of consciousness? Should we approach its concepts and generalizations from the standpoint of conceptual analysis or from the philosophy of science? (shrink)
The theme of this essay is rather simple, though its demonstration is not. It is that humans think reflexively or metamentally because -- and often in the forms in which -- they interpret each other. In this essay ‘metamental’ means ‘about mental’ and ‘reflexive mind’ means ‘a mind thinking about its own thoughts.’ To think reflexively or metamentally is to think about thoughts deliberately and explicitly, as in thinking that my current thoughts about metamentation are right. Thinking about thoughts requires (...) understanding thoughts as thoughts, as mental structures that represent; it also requires an ability to relate thoughts to other thoughts and to recognize such inter-thought relations. Since metamentation is essential to and uniquely distinctive of human minds, the idea that it originates in interpreting other minds can be encapsulated in the slogan that minds are minded because minds mind minds. This word play translates as: minds evolve into reflexive minds because they mind other minds -- where ‘minding other minds’ means interacting and bonding with other minds, being concerned or curious about them, representing their relations to the world, manipulating and using these relations for some purpose, and the like. All of this amounts (in my terminology) to interpreting other minds in social contexts of cooperation, communication, education, politics, and so on. It follows that intermental relations among individuals, handled by a distinct competence for interpretation, are essential to the evolution of abilities to represent intramental relations among thoughts, typical of a reflexive mind. I take ‘interpretation’ to be a convenient, short, and grammatically flexible label for what is known in philosophy as commonsense or folk psychology and in psychology as theory of mind, mindreading, or naive psychology. Interpretation is a cognitive rapport between an interpreter (she, in this book) and a subject (he), whereby she represents his mind-world relations, from the simplest, such as seeing.... (shrink)
Some of the topics presented in this volume of original essays on contemporary approaches to belief include the problem of misrepresentation and false belief, conscious versus unconscious belief, explicit versus tacit belief, and the durable versus ephemeral question of the nature of belief. The contributors, Fred Dretske, Keith Lehrer, William Lycan, Stephen Schiffer, Stephen P. Stich, and the editor, Radu Bogdan, focus on the mental realization of belief, its cognitive and behavioral aspects, and the semantic aspects of its content. This (...) interdisciplinary study takes advantage of many new theories in what has become an important area of research. (shrink)
Information is the fuel of cognition. At its most basic level, information is a matter of structures interacting under laws. The notion of information thus reflects the (relational) fact that a structure is created by the impact of another structure. The impacted structure is an encoding, in some concrete form, of the interaction with the impacting structure. Information is, essentially, the structural trace in some system of an interaction with another system; it is also, as a consequence, the structural fuel (...) which drives the impacted system's subsequent processes and behavior. Information takes various forms because the world has many levels of compositional and functional complexity, under different constraints. The key constraints that matter in the understanding of information are natural patterns of organization, or types, and systematic correlations among types, or laws. These level- sensitive constraints, in the form of types and laws, shape the very form in which information is tokened in some structure, that is, the very form in which it is encoded. As a result, the information-producing interactions bring about different sorts of structures, with various sorts of causal effects and functions, whence so many ways in which information is coded and utilized. (shrink)
Eliminativism assumes that commonsense psychology describes and explains the mind in terms of the internal design and operation of the mind. If this assumption is invalidated, so is eliminativism. The same conditional is true of intentional realism. Elsewhere (Bogdan 1991) I have argued against this 'folk- theory-theory' assumption by showing that commonsense psychology is not an empirical prototheory of the mind but a biosocially motivated practice of coding, utilizing, and sharing information from and about conspecifics. Here, without presupposing a specific (...) analysis of commonsense psychology, I want to challenge a key implication of the 'folk-theory-theory' assumption to the effect that commonsense psychology is committed to a definite architecture of the mind. (shrink)
Looks at what the author calls "mindvaulting," or the human mind's ability to vault over the realm of current perception, motivation, emotion and action, to leap—consciously and deliberately—to past or future, possible or impossible, ...
The local justification of beliefs and hypotheses has recently become a major concern for epistemologists and philosophers of induction. As such, the problem of local justification is not entirely new. Most pragmatists had addressed themselves to it, and so did, to some extent, many classical inductivists in the Bacon-Whewell-Mill tradition. In the last few decades, however, the use of logic and semantics, probability calculus, statistical methods, and decision-theoretic concepts in the reconstruction of in ductive inference has revealed some important technical (...) respects in which inductive justification can be local: the choice of a language, with its syntactic and semantic features, the relativity of probabilistic evalua tions to an initial body of evidence or background knowledge and to an agent's utilities and preferences, etc. Some paradoxes and difficulties encountered by purely formal accounts of inductive justification, the erosion of the once dominant empiricist position, which most approaches to induction took for granted, and the increasing challenge of noninduc tivist epistemolgies have underscored the need of accounting for the methodological problems of applying inductive logic to real life contexts, particularly in science. As a result, in the late fifties and sixties, several related developments pointed to a new, local approach to inductive justification. (shrink)
Many philosophers and a few psychologists think that we understand our own minds before we understand those of others. Most developmental psychologists think that children understand their own minds at about the same time they understand other minds, by using the same cognitive abilities. I disagree with both views. I think that children understand other minds before they understand their own. Their self-understanding depends on some cognitive abilities that develop later than, and independently of, the abilities involved in understanding other (...) minds. This is the general theme of this chapter. (shrink)
Aside from brute force, there are several philosophically respectable ways of eliminating the mental. In recent years the most popular elimination strategy has been directed against our common sense or folk psychological understanding of the mental. The strategy goes by the name of eliminative materialism (or eliminativism, in short). The motivation behind this strategy seems to be the following. If common sense psychology can be construed as the principled theory of the mental, whose vocabulary and principles implicitly define what counts (...) as mental, then eliminating the theory is eliminating its subject matter. If the theory is shown to be false, then its subject matter does not exist. If, in other words, common sense psychology can be shown to describe and explain nothing real in human cognition, then the mental itself is a fiction. (shrink)
The aim of this series is to inform both professional philosophers and a larger readership (of social and natural scientists, methodologists, mathematicians, students, teachers, publishers, etc. ) about what is going on, who's who, and who does what in contemporary philosophy and logic. PROFILES is designed to present the research activity and the results of already outstanding personalities and schools and of newly emerging ones in the various fields of philosophy and logic. There are many Festschrift volumes dedicated to various (...) philosophers. There is the celebrated Library oj Living Phi/osophers edited by P. A. Schilpp whose format influenced the present enterprise. Still they can only cover very little of the contemporary philosophical scene. Faced with a tremendous expansion of philosophical information and with an almost frightening division of labor and increasing specialization we need systematic and regular ways of keeping track of wh at happens in the profession. PRO FILES is intended to perform such a function. Each volume is devoted to one or several philosophers whose views and results are presented and discussed. The profiled philosopher(s) will summarize and review his (their) own work in the main fields of signifi cant contribution. This work will be discussed and evaluated by invited contributors. Relevant historical and/or biographical data, an up-to date bibliography with short abstracts of the most important works and, whenever possible, references to significant reviews and discussions will also be included. (shrink)
What is it that one thinks or believes when one thinks or believes something? A mental formula? A sentence in some natural language? Its truth conditions? Or perhaps an abstract proposition? The current story of content is fairly ecumenical. It says that a number of aspects, some mental, other semantic, go into our understanding of content. Yet the current story is incomplete. It leaves out a very important aspect of content, one which I call incremental information. It is information in (...) a specific format, information as a limited or local increment, structured by a number of underlying parameters. It is in the form of such increments that information drives cognition and behavior. This is why, perhaps of all aspects of content, it is incremental information which matters most when we want to understand cognitive attitudes and performances. This in turn must have an impact on our philosophical notions of content, propositional attitudes, inference, justification and knowledge. (shrink)
This chapter provides the teleological foundations for our analysis of guidance to goal. Its objective is to ground goal-directedness genetically. The basic suggestion is this. Organisms are small things, with few energy resources and puny physical means, battling a ruthless physical and biological nature. How do they manage to survive and multiply? CLEVERLY, BY ORGANIZING.
A distinguished wise man, Emil Cioran, with whom I share a country of birth and the thought that follows, said once that the two most interesting things in life are gossip and metaphysics. I can hardly think of a more self evident and enjoyable truth, if wisely construed. This volume combines the two pleasures, for it is an exercise in the metaphysics of wise gossip, of how we make sense of each other, and how, as a result we interpret, explain, (...) rationalize and evaluate our representations and actions. The body of wisdom which allows us to do all this is currently currently called folk or common sense psychology. I will also call it psychofolklore or the folklore of the mind. (shrink)
If there is a dogma in the contemporary philosophy of the cognitive mind, it must be the notion that cognition is semantic causation or, differently put, that it is semantics that runs the psyche. This is what the notion of psychosemantics and (often) intentionality are all about. Another dogma, less widespread than the first but almost equally potent, is that common sense psychology is the implicit theory of psychosemantics. The two dogmas are jointly encapsulated in the following axiom. Mental attitudes (...) such as beliefs and desires have essentially semantic contents, or are semantically evaluable. (This is why they are called propositional attitudes.) Mental attitudes have causal powers in virtue of their semantic properties. The content of an attitude has causal powers qua semantic, or more exactly in virtue of its syntactic structure which reflects relevant semantic properties and relations. (Propositions attitudinized cause in virtue of their semantically sensitive syntax.) It is the fact that mental attitudes cause in virtue of being semantic that explains why the cognitive mind is essentially semantic and why common sense psychology is implicitly true of the semantic mind. (shrink)
The aim of this series is to inform both professional philosophers and a larger readership (of social and natural scientists, methodologists, mathematicians, students, teachers, publishers, etc. ) about what is going on, who's who, and who does what in contemporary philosophy and logic. PROFILES is designed to present the research activity and the results of already outstanding personalities and schools and of newly emerging ones in the various fields of philosophy and logic. There are many Festschrift volumes dedicated to various (...) philosophers. There is the celebrated Library of Living Philosophers edited by P. A. Schilpp whose format influenced the present enterprise. Still they can only cover very little of the contemporary philosophical scene. Faced with a tremendous expansion of philosophical information and with an almost frightening division of labor and increasing specialization we need systematic and regular ways of keeping track of what happens in the profession. PROFILES is intended to perform such a function. Each volume is devoted to one or several philosophers whose views and results are presented and discussed. The profiled philosopher(s) will summarize and review his (their) own work in the main fields of significant contribution. This work will be discussed and evaluated by invited contributors. Relevant his to rial and/or biographical data, an up-to-date bibliography with short abstracts of the most important works and, whenever possible, references to significant reviews and discussion will also be included. (shrink)
Almost everybody believes, but nobody has conclusively shown, that common sense psychology is a descriptive body of knowledge about the mind, the way physics is about elementary particles or medicine about bodily conditions. Of course, common sense psychology helps itself to many notions about the mind. This does not show that common sense psychology is about the mind. Physics also helps itself to plenty of mathematical notions, without being about mathematical entities and relations. Employment of notions about the mind does (...) not by itself establish the nature and business of common sense psychology. To find out what the latter's notions are about requires finding out what they are for. To find out what they are for, we should start by asking who employs them in what contexts and for what reasons. If we consider seriously these questions, we should not be too surprised to find out that: (1) A subject is an agent busily pursuing his worldly interests. In the process, he encodes, operates on, can be read for, and often deliberately conveys information about his current as well as past or future cognitive and behavioral states, and about the world around him, as it was, is, and could be. (2) A sense maker is also a busy agent. To pursue her worldly.. (shrink)
Our perceptions, beliefs, thoughts and memories have objects. They are about or of things and properties around us. I perceive her, have beliefs about her, think of her and have memories of her. How are we to construe this aboutness (or ofness) of our cognitive states?' There are four major choices on the philosophical market. There is an interaction approach which says that the object of cognition is fixed by and understood in terms of what cognizers physically and sensorily interact (...) with - or, alternatively, in terms of what the information delivered by such interaction is about. There is the satisfactional approach which says that the object of a cognitive state is whatever satisfies the representation constitutive of that state. There is also a hybrid approach which requires both physical/sensory interaction and representational satisfaction in the fixation of the object of cognition. And there is, finally, the direct acquaintance approach which says that only an immediate cognitive contact with things and properties can establish them as objects of cognition. The latter, as far as I can tell, goes the way perception goes, so only the remaining three approaches look like serious contenders. (shrink)
Self-ascriptions of thoughts and attitudes depend on a sense of the intentionality of one’s own mental states, which develops later than, and independently of, the sense of the intentionality of the thoughts and attitudes of others. This sense of the self-intentionality of one’s own mental states grows initially out of executive developments that enable one to simulate one’s own actions and perceptions, as genuine off-line thoughts, and to regulate such simulations.
This book explores the evolution of the mental competence for self-reflection: why it evolved, under what selection pressures, in what environments, out of what precursors, and with what mental resources. Integrating evolutionary, psychological, and philosophical perspectives, Radu J. Bogdan argues that the competence for self-reflection, uniquely human and initially autobiographical, evolved under strong and persistent sociocultural and political pressures on the developing minds of older children and later adults. Self-reflection originated in a basic propensity of the human brain to rehearse (...) anticipatively mental states, speech acts, actions, and states of the world in order to service one's elaborate goal policies. These goal policies integrate offline representations of one's own mental states and actions and those of others in order to handle the challenges of a complex and dynamic sociopolitical and sociocultural life, calling for an adaptive intramental self-regulation: that intramental adaptation is self-reflection. (shrink)
Heyes's (1998) skepticism about theory of mind (ToM) in nonhuman primates exploits the idea of a strong and unified theory of mind in humans based on an unanalyzed category of mental state. It also exploits narrow debates about crucial observations and experiments while neglecting wider evolutionary trends. I argue against both exploitations.
If we are serious about concepts, we must begin by addressing two questions: What are concepts for, what is their job? And what means are available in an organism for concepts to do their job? One is a question of raison d'.