Scaffolded Minds offers a novel account of cognitive scaffolding and its significance for understanding mental disorders. The book is part of the growing philosophical engagement with empirically informed philosophy of mind, which studies the interfaces between philosophy and cognitive science. It draws on two recent shifts within empirically informed philosophy of mind: the first, toward an intensified study of the embodied mind; and the second, toward a study of the disordered mind that acknowledges the convergence of the explanatory concerns of (...) psychiatry and interdisciplinary inquiries into the mind. The book sets out to accomplish a dual task: theoretical mapping of cognitive scaffolding; and the application/calibration of fine-grained philosophical distinctions to empirical research. It introduces the notion of actively scaffolded cognition (ASC) and offers a taxonomy that distinguishes between intrasomatic and extrasomatic scaffolding. It then shows that ASC offers a productive framework for considering certain characteristic features of mental disorders, focusing on altered bodily experience and social cognition deficits. (shrink)
In this paper, we first review recent arguments about the direct perception of the intentions and emotions of others, emphasizing the role of embodied interaction. We then consider a possible objection to the direct perception hypothesis from social psychology, related to phenomena like ‘dehumanization’ and ‘implicit racial bias’, which manifest themselves on a basic bodily level. On the background of such data, one might object that social perception cannot be direct since it depends on and can in fact be interrupted (...) by a set of cultural beliefs. We argue, however, that far from threatening the idea of direct perception, these findings clearly contradict the idea of hardwired theory of mind modules. More generally, we suggest that in order to further the understanding of social cognition we must take seriously insights about in-group and out-group distinctions and related phenomena, all of which are currently neglected in the mainstream social cognition literature. (shrink)
In this paper, we draw on developmental findings to provide a nuanced understanding of background emotions, particularly those in depression. We demonstrate how they reflect our basic proximity (feeling of interpersonal connectedness) to others and defend both a phenomenological and a functional claim. First, we substantiate a conjecture by Fonagy & Target (International Journal of Psychoanalysis 88(4):917–937, 2007) that an important phenomenological aspect of depression is the experiential recreation of the infantile loss of proximity to significant others. Second, we argue (...) that proximity has a particular cognitive function that allows individuals to morph into a cohesive dyadic system able to carry out distributed emotion regulation. We show that elevated levels of psychological suffering connected to depressive background emotions may be explained not only in terms of a psychological loss, but also as the felt inability to enter into dyadic regulatory relations with others—an experiential constraint that decreases the individual’s ability to adapt to demanding situations. (shrink)
Authenticity has become a widespread ethical ideal that represents a way of dealing with normative gaps in contemporary life. This ideal suggests that one should be true to oneself and lead a life expressive of what one takes oneself to be. However, many contemporary thinkers have pointed out that the ideal of authenticity has increasingly turned into a kind of aestheticism and egoistic self-indulgence. In his book, Varga systematically constructs a critical concept of authenticity that takes into account the reciprocal (...) shaping of capitalism and the ideal of authenticity. Drawing on different traditions in critical social theory, moral philosophy and phenomenology, Varga builds a concept of authenticity that can make intelligible various problematic and potentially exhausting practices of the self. (shrink)
In contemporary philosophy of the cognitive sciences, proponents of the ‘Hypothesis of Extended Cognition’ have focused on demonstrating how cognitive processes at times extend beyond the boundaries of the human body to include external physical devices. In recent years the HEC framework has been put to use in cases of “socially” extended cognition. The guiding intuition in this paper is that exploring the cognitive incorporations of genuinely social elements may advance HEC debates. The paper provides an analysis of emotion regulation (...) in ‘dyadic synchronic interaction’ between infant and caretaker and argues that some ‘socially extended’ cases of cognition cannot be captured with the HEC. Instead, the ‘Hypothesis of Emergent Extended Cognition’ is introduced that complements the HEC and helps in understanding how cognitive properties are sometimes irreducibly emergent, non-programmed properties of coupled social systems. It will be concluded that operating with the HEEC leads to both a more precise grip on the explanandum and to a more robust explanans. (shrink)
The question of how we actually arrive at our knowledge of others’ mental lives is lively debated, and some philosophers defend the idea that mentality is sometimes accessible to perception. In this paper, a distinction is introduced between “mind awareness” and “mental state awareness,” and it is argued that the former at least sometimes belongs to perceptual, rather than cognitive, processing.
The Philosophy of Psychiatry is a unique area of research because the nature of the subject matter leads to quite distinct methodological issues. Naturalism, Interpretation, and Mental Disorder is an original new work focusing on the challenges we face when trying to interpret and understand mental illness. The book integrates a hermeneutical perspective, and shows how such an approach can reveal important facts about historical sources in psychiatry and the nature of dialogue in the therapeutic encounter. In addition, the book (...) demonstrates how such an approach can be valuable for understanding the concept of mental disorder itself. Naturalism, Interpretation, and Mental Disorder brings fresh thinking to the philosophy of psychiatry, and will be of interest to students and scholars in the fields of Mental Health and Philosophy. (shrink)
Due to several socio-political factors, to many psychiatrists only a strictly objective definition of mental disorder, free of value components, seems really acceptable. In this paper, I will explore a variant of such an objectivist approach to defining metal disorder, natural function objectivism. Proponents of this approach make recourse to the notion of natural function in order to reach a value-free definition of mental disorder. The exploration of Christopher Boorse's 'biostatistical' account of natural function (1) will be followed an investigation (...) of the 'hybrid naturalism' approach to natural functions by Jerome Wakefield (2). In the third part, I will explore two proposals that call into question the whole attempt to define mental disorder (3). I will conclude that while 'natural function objectivism' accounts fail to provide the backdrop for a reliable definition of mental disorder, there is no compelling reason to conclude that a definition cannot be achieved. (shrink)
It is widely agreed that obsessive-compulsive disorder involves irrationality. But where in the complex of states and processes that constitutes OCD should this irrationality be located? A pervasive assumption in both the psychiatric and philosophical literature is that the seat of irrationality is located in the obsessive thoughts characteristic of OCD. Building on a puzzle about insight into OCD (Taylor 2022), we challenge this pervasive assumption, and argue instead that the irrationality of OCD is located in the emotions that are (...) characteristic of OCD, such as anxiety or fear. In particular, we propose to understand the irrationality of OCD as a matter of harboring recalcitrant emotions. We argue that this account not only solves the puzzle about insight, but also makes better sense of how OCD sufferers experience and describe their condition and helps explain some otherwise puzzling features of compulsive behavior. (shrink)
Christopher Boorse’s Health care ethics: an introduction, Temple University Press, Philadelphia, pp 359–393, 1987; in Humber, Almeder, Totowa What is disease?, Humana Press, New York City, pp 1–134, 1997; J Med Philos, 39:683–724, 2014) Bio-Statistical Theory comprehends diseases in terms of departures from natural norms, which involve an objectively describable deviation from the proper physiological or psychological functioning of parts of the human organism. I argue that while recent revisions and additional considerations shield the BST from a number of issues (...) raised by critics, they give rise to significant new challenges. These are related to the attribution of epistemic authority, the possibility of multiple concepts in the authoritative literature, and the framing of BST as “philosophical explication.” The conclusion is that, in its current form, the BST is unable to provide a robust framework for a naturalist classification. (shrink)
This paper starts by distinguishing three views about the phenomenal character of perceptual experience. ‘Low-level theorists’ argue that perceptual experience is reducible to the experience of low-level properties, ‘high-level theorists’ argue that we have perceptual experiences of high-level properties, while ‘disunified view theorists’ argue that perceptual seemings can present high-level properties. The paper explores how cognitive states can penetrate perceptual experience and provides an interpretation of cognitive penetration that offers some support for the high-level view.
Gesellschaftskritik, or social philosophy that aims to provide firm criticism of pathological social practices, requires normatively grounded evaluative principles. In this article, we assess different possibilities for such principles with focus on a model that takes specific patterns of intersubjective interaction as its point of reference. We argue that in order to understand the full significance of this ‘intersubjective turn’ for social philosophy, and to strengthen the normative foundation of social philosophy, we need to distinguish several levels of intersubjectivity and, (...) in particular, focus on the somewhat neglected level of primary intersubjectivity. The article will discuss the account of primary intersubjectivity in Honneth’s work. We show that Honneth’s account runs into difficulties, and drawing on recent findings in developmental psychology, we suggest a rethinking of elementary recognition in terms of ‘affective proximity’. This both renders the account less susceptible to criticism and provides a normative perspective that can effortlessly enter into interdisciplinary collaboration. (shrink)
Psychotic and prodromal states are characterized by distortions of intersubjectivity, and a number of psychopathologists see in the concrete I-You frame of the clinical encounter the manifestation of such impairment. Rümke has coined the term of ‘praecox-feeling’, designated to describe a feeling of unease emanating in the interviewer that reflects the detachment of the patient and the failure of an ‘affective exchange.’ While the reliability of the praecox-feeling as a diagnostic tool has since been established, the explanation and theoretical framing (...) of the phenomena is still lacking. By drawing on enactivist approaches to social cognition, the paper will attempt to provide such an explanation. This is relevant, since such an explanation could contribute to a more precise understanding of the phenomena in question and possibly add to our knowledge regarding the link between experiential vulnerability to psychosis and disturbed I-Thou intersubjectivity. (shrink)
From Minkowski and Jaspers to Blankenburg, phenomenological psychopathology has assumed that lost or diminished experience of ‘realness’ is related to an impairment of tacit level intersubjectivity. This paper develops a theoretical framework for this hypothesis by drawing mainly on the phenomenological tradition and the works of Wittgenstein. The argument, in return, contributes to recent discussions regarding depersonalization and intersubjectivity. In addition, the approach suggests some interesting implications for psychopathology.
Drawing on empirical material from social psychology, ‘situationism’ argues that the astonishing susceptibility of moral behaviour to situational influences undermines certain conceptions of character. The related, albeit more limited, thesis proposed in this paper, ‘embodied situationism’, engages a larger number of empirical sources from different fields of study and sheds light on the mechanisms responsible for particular, seemingly puzzling, situational judgments and behaviours. It is demonstrated that the empirical material supports the claims of ES and that ES is immune to (...) some important objections against situationism. (shrink)
Often drawing on the phenomenological tradition, a number of philosophers and cognitive scientists working in the field of “embodied cognition” subscribe to the general view that cognition is grounded in aspects of its sensorimotor embodiment and should be comprehended as the result of a dynamic interaction of nonneural and neural processes. After a brief introduction, the paper critically engages Lakoff and Johnson’s “conceptual metaphor theory”, and provides a review of recent empirical evidence that appears to support it. Subsequently, the paper (...) underscores some of the limitations of CMT, points to some philosophical problems that require further attention, and explores possible implications for understanding and treating of mental disorders. (shrink)
The Extended Mind Hypothesis has given rise to stimulating philosophical debates about the boundaries of the realm of the cognitive. This paper first investigates the usefulness of a “mark of the cognitive,” and then focuses on two accounts that aim to provide such a mark, put forward by Fred Adams and Rebecca Garrison on one side and Mark Rowlands on the other. The paper provides a critical assessment of these accounts and uses empirical work on emotion regulation in infants to (...) unearth some crucial challenges that any attempt at offering a mark of the cognitive should address. (shrink)
Worries about the potential medicalization of social and moral problems has propelled the debate on the nature of mental disorder, with normativists insisting that psychiatric classification is inherently value-laden and naturalists maintaining that a purely descriptive account of disease is possible. In recent work, some authors take a different path, accepting that the concepts of disease and mental disorder are value-laden but maintaining that this does not prevent objective truths regarding mental disorder attribution. This paper explores two such accounts and (...) the important steps they provide toward rethinking the nature and metaphysical status of mental disorder. The challenges raised in this paper are meant to contribute to the further development of this stimulating work. (shrink)
A large part of the contemporary literature on dehumanization is committed to three ideas: (a) dehumanization involves some degree of denial of humanness, (b) such denial is to be comprehended in mental terms, and (c) whatever exact mechanisms underlie the denial of humanness, they belong in the realm of post-perceptual processing. This chapter examines (c) and argues that the awareness of minds might belong to perceptual processing. This paves the way for the possibility that dehumanization might, at least in part, (...) be a perceptual phenomenon, such that dehumanizers visually perceive the dehumanized as exhibiting lesser-than-human minds. It is perhaps unsurprising that the first systematic investigations of dehumanization approached the phenomenon as linked to contexts of war, genocide, extreme hatred, and violence. One guiding hypothesis was that dehumanizers exclude the dehumanized from a moral community of human beings, implicitly conceptualized as displaying distinct individualities and being embedded in caring interpersonal relations. By comprehending the dehumanized as deindividuated entities to which moral norms and considerations of fairness do not apply (Opotow 1990), dehumanizers are able to disengage from moral restrictions and self-sanctions (Bandura 1999). (shrink)
Some of our motives that we act on are not only of unconstrained origin, but we also take them to express who we are and, thus, to "speak for us." Harry G. Frankfurt has maintained that it is the formation of a hierarchical structure by means of an act of wholehearted identification that makes a given motive genuinely one's own. I argue that wholehearted identifications fail to live up to this task. Instead, I demonstrate that only a subtype of wholehearted (...) identifications, namely core identifications, genuinely "speak for us." In addition, I argue that core identifications help explain the peculiar phenomenology that characterizes some of our crucial choices. (shrink)
Axel Honneth makes initial and promising steps towards what could be called a two-level account of recognition, according to which the normatively substantial forms of recognition represent various manners in which the primordial acquaintedness with others is expressed. It will be argued that Honneth's promising approach must be revised in regard to the issue of intentionality, which may be achieved by reference to earlier critical theorists such as Adorno and Arendt. With such a foundation, critical theory can enter into new (...) fruitful interdisciplinary dialogue. (shrink)
While many profound philosophical questions arise about psychopaths, I wish to draw attention to two limitations in current debates. First, philosophers mainly deal with offender and forensic populations neglecting so-called ‘successful’ psychopaths. Second, philosophers mainly focus on the issue of empathy and responsibility, while relatively little attention is paid to volitional aspects. I address these two limitations together and argue that ‘successful’ psychopaths are volitionally constrained. In order to grasp and explore this deficiency, I argue in favour of a more (...) refined and fine-grained understanding of identifications. (shrink)
Cognitive theory (CT) is currently the most widely acknowledged framework used to describe the psychological processes in affective disorders like depression. The purpose of this paper is to assess the philosophical assumptions upon which CT rests. It is argued that CT must be revised due to significant flaws in many of these philosophical assumptions. The paper contains suggestions as to how these problems could be overcome in a manner that would secure philosophical accuracy, while also providing an account that is (...) better suited to explaining some of the cognitive, emotional, and bodily manifestations of affective disorders. (shrink)
After some preliminary distinctions, this paper will discuss the merits of higher-order representational theory and same-order theory. A distinction will be introduced between a intrinsic conception of consciousness and a representational variant . It will be argued that the SOIT account of 'non-reflective self-awareness' can be applied to understanding aspects of psychopathology. However, a closer look at specific aspects of schizophrenic experience reveals that we might need to widen the scope of and 'situate' the SOIT of non-reflective selfawareness.
In the last few decades, there has been a genuine ‘adaptive turn’ in psychiatry, resulting in evolutionary accounts for an increasing number of psychopathologies. In this paper, I explore the advantages and problems with the two main evolutionary approaches to depression, namely the mismatch and persistence accounts . I will argue that while both evolutionary theories of depression might provide some helpful perspectives, the accounts also harbor significant flaws that might question their authority and usefulness as explanations.
On the one hand, it is commonly agreed that we make choices in which we are guided by a core of personal commitments, wishes, feelings, etc. that we take to express who we are. On the other, it is commonly agreed that some of these ‘existential’ choices constitute who we are. When confronting these two matters, the question of agency inevitably arises: Whether and in what sense can we choose ourselves? The paper will argue for a new perspective on existential (...) choice. (shrink)
This article suggests that an account of pretence based on the idea of shared intentionality can be of help in understanding autism. In autism, there seems to be a strong link between being able to engage in pretend play, understanding the minds of others and having adequate access to own mental states. Since one of the first behavioral manifestations of autism is the lack of pretend play, it therefore seems natural to investigate pretence in order to identify the nature of (...) the central impairment in question. In mainstream theories, this has been identified as an impaired ‘theory of mind module’ or ‘mentalizing’ capacities. This paper points to some difficulties encountered by such accounts and – by drawing on research by Tomasello and Rakoczy – seeks to develop an alternative account of pretence and social cognition. (shrink)
Hutto and Satne review current attempts to provide a naturalized content and underline some of the most convincing reasons why they remain inadequate. The authors reframe and update Haugeland’s assessment of this research program, but besides describing the particular challenges facing the different candidate accounts, they also propose what seems to be a promising way to further a debate that has not advanced in recent years. In this paper I argue that a more detailed exploration of some aspects of the (...) neo-behaviorist and neo-pragmatist strategies might be helpful in order to advance the discussion. (shrink)
ExcerptThe ideal of authenticity—roughly, that one should lead a life that is expressive of what the person takes herself to be—has become a strong and widespread ethical ideal with an immense impact on popular culture, most revealingly in the quest for authenticity in popular self-help literature. The “age of autonomy” that emphasized the individual's self-governing abilities is replaced by what Charles Taylor called “the age of authenticity.”1 In the same vein, Alessandro Ferrara notes that the concept of authenticity is “to (...) contemporary modernity as the notion of autonomous subjectivity is to early modernity.”2At the same time, authenticity is no…. (shrink)
Although the Historical concept of melancholia has undergone numerous metamorphoses, it has maintained a place in psychiatric classification and currently refers to a specific melancholic subtype of major depression (American Psychiatric Association 2000, 419). Although melancholia—as a description of pathological states—constitutes the focus of this paper, it must be pointed out that the range of states encompassed by melancholia cover a far wider spectrum than that covered by the term ‘disease.’ As Jennifer Radden notes, melancholia (and melancholy) referred to “both (...) a normal disposition and a sign of mental disturbance” (Radden 2000, ix), thus covering a wide range of emotional variations that cannot be reduced .. (shrink)
This Article is a response to thoughtful commentaries by Jennifer Radden (2013) and Louis A. Sass and Elizabeth Pienkos (2013) on my paper, which investigates the continuity between melancholia and depression. In the following, I address the challenges presented by the commentators and attempt to clarify and deepen my position. In my paper, I have explored the history of melancholia and depression with special emphasis on the question of their possible continuity—with the knowledge that any such attempt inevitably brings with (...) it a whole cluster of theoretical challenges. Therefore, I tried to remain modest in my conclusions, but I also wanted to contribute to the debate by showing that there might be .. (shrink)
This paper aims to contribute to debates about the nature of philosophical inquiry and its relation to science. The starting point is the Discontinuity View (DV), which holds that philosophy is discontinuous with science. Upon critically engaging two lines of argument in favor of DV, the paper presents and defends the Continuity View (CV), according to which philosophy and science are continuous forms of inquiry. The critical engagement sheds light on continuities between philosophical and scientific inquiry while underlining special normative (...) competences of philosophical work. The final part of the paper uses these insights to offer a brief outline of a normative approach to philosophy of science. (shrink)
In Feelings of Being, one of the most recent publications in the IPPP series, Matthew Ratcliffe provides a detailed phenomenological investigation of a distinct category of existential feelings in everyday life and psychiatric illness. Ratcliffe´s book is divided into three parts, each dealing with issues of remarkable complexity and scope.
This article seeks to defend two claims: Firstly, that Universalist ethics in Habermas and Rawls cannot function without some recourse to the Good Life, or human well-being. Secondly, that such ethical reflection must involve formal anthropological considerations. In other words, it must involve a consideration of the Good that also encompasses reflection on what we are as humans. As an example, the paper draws on Habermas’ recent thoughts on ‘species-ethics’. I will argue that 'species ethics' needs to be substantiated and (...) expanded with the help of an 'anthropology of recognition'. (shrink)
Grief is often described as characterized by a particular emotional response to another person’s death. While this is true of paradigm cases, we argue that a broader notion of grief allows accommodating forms of this emotional experience that deviate from the paradigmatic case. The bulk of the paper explores such a nonparadigmatic form of grief, anticipatory-vicarious grief, which is typically triggered by pondering the inevitability of our own death. We argue that AV-grief is a particular moral emotion that serves a (...) unique function and is indissolubly linked to the practical identities of human agents. An agent’s AV-grief is about the harm that occurs to individuals whose practical identities depend on the agent. (shrink)
The publication of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has stirred many emotions both inside and outside of the psychiatric community. But when the director of the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, Thomas Insel's, critique of the DSM-5 became public, even some antipsychiatrists were surprised. Insel argued that although the DSM's diagnostic categories have become the standard to obtain research grants and to conduct trials, they are not based on objective measures, lack validity, (...) do not make accurate predictions about illness trajectory, and fail to map onto findings from neuroscience and genetics. In contrast with the... (shrink)
Autism has recently become the focus of continuous philosophical inquiry, because it affects inter-subjective capacities in a highly selective manner. One of the first behavioural manifestations of autism is impaired play, particularly the lack of pretend play. This article will show that the prevailing 'Theory-Theory of Mind'-approach cannot explain impaired play. I will suggest a richer, phenomenological account of inter-subjectivity. It will be argued that this improves the understanding of impaired play in autism.