Part I: The Life of Cognitive Science:. William Bechtel, Adele Abrahamsen, and George Graham. Part II: Areas of Study in Cognitive Science:. 1. Analogy: Dedre Gentner. 2. Animal Cognition: Herbert L. Roitblat. 3. Attention: A.H.C. Van Der Heijden. 4. Brain Mapping: Jennifer Mundale. 5. Cognitive Anthropology: Charles W. Nuckolls. 6. Cognitive and Linguistic Development: Adele Abrahamsen. 7. Conceptual Change: Nancy J. Nersessian. 8. Conceptual Organization: Douglas Medin and Sandra R. Waxman. 9. Consciousness: Owen Flanagan. 10. Decision Making: J. Frank Yates (...) and Paul A. Estin. 11. Emotions: Paul E. Griffiths. 12. Imagery and Spatial Representation: Rita E. Anderson. 13. Language Evolution and Neuromechanisms: Terrence W. Deacon. 14. Language Processing: Kathryn Bock and Susan M. Garnsey. 15. Linguistics Theory: D. Terence Langendoen. 16. Machine Learning: Paul Thagard. 17. Memory: Henry L. Roediger III and Lyn M. Goff. 18. Perception: Cees Van Leeuwen. 19. Perception: Color: Austen Clark. 20. Problem Solving: Kevin Dunbar. 21. Reasoning: Lance J. Rips. 22. Social Cognition: Alan J. Lambert and Alison L. Chasteen. 23. Unconscious Intelligence: Rhianon Allen and Arthur S. Reber. 24. Understanding Texts: Art Graesser and Pam Tipping. 25. Word Meaning: Barbara C. Malt. Part III: Methodologies of Cognitive Science:. 26. Artificial Intelligence: Ron Sun. 27. Behavioral Experimentation: Alexander Pollatsek and Keith Rayner. 28. Cognitive Ethology: Marc Bekoff. 29. Deficits and Pathologies: Christopher D. Frith. 30. Ethnomethodology: Barry Saferstein. 31. Functional Analysis: Brian Macwhinney. 32. Neuroimaging: Randy L. Buckner and Steven E. Petersen. 33. Protocal Analysis: K. Anders Ericsson. 34. Single Neuron Electrophysiology: B. E. Stein, M.T. Wallace, and T.R. Stanford. 35. Structural Analysis: Robert Frank. Part IV: Stances in Cognitive Science:. 36. Case-based Reasoning: David B. Leake. 37. Cognitive Linguistics: Michael Tomasello. 38. Connectionism, Artificial Life, and Dynamical Systems: Jeffrey L. Elman. 39. Embodied, Situated, and Distributed Cognition: Andy Clark. 40. Mediated Action: James V. Wertsch. 41. Neurobiological Modeling: P. Read Montague and Peter Dayan. 42. Production Systems: Christian D. Schunn and David Klahr. Part V: Controversies in Cognitive Science:. 43. The Binding Problem: Valerie Gray Hardcastle. 44. Heuristics and Satisficing: Robert C. Richardson. 45. Innate Knowledge: Barbara Landau. 46. Innateness and Emergentism: Elizabeth Bates, Jeffrey L. Elman, Mark H. Johnson, Annette Karmiloff-Smith, Domenico Parisi, and Kim Plunkett. 47. Intentionality: Gilbert Harman. 48. Levels of Explanation and Cognition Architectures: Robert N. McCauley. 49. Modularity: Irene Appelbaum. 50. Representation and Computation: Robert S. Stufflebeam. 51. Representations: Dorrit Billman. 52. Rules: Terence Horgan and John Tienson. 53. Stage Theories Refuted: Donald G. Mackay. Part VI: Cognitive Science in the Real World:. 54. Education: John T. Bruer. 55. Ethics: Mark L. Johnson. 56. Everyday Life Environments: Alex Kirlik. 57. Institutions and Economics: Douglass C. North. 58. Legal Reasoning: Edwina L. Rissland. 59. Mental Retardation: Norman W. Bray, Kevin D. Reilly, Lisa F. Huffman, Lisa A. Grupe, Mark F. Villa, Kathryn L. Fletcher, and Vivek Anumolu. 60. Science: William F. Brewer and Punyashloke Mishra. Selective Biographies of Major Contributors to Cognitive Science: William Bechtel and Tadeusz Zawidzki. (shrink)
continent. 2.2 (2012): 76–81 Comments on Eugene Thacker’s “Cosmic Pessimism” Nicola Masciandaro Anything you look forward to will destroy you, as it already has. —Vernon Howard In pessimism, the first axiom is a long, low, funereal sigh. The cosmicity of the sigh resides in its profound negative singularity. Moving via endless auto-releasement, it achieves the remote. “ Oltre la spera che piú larga gira / passa ’l sospiro ch’esce del mio core ” [Beyond the sphere that circles widest / penetrates (...) the sigh that issues from my heart]. 1 The axiomatic sigh of the pessimist is in a way the pure word of philosophy, a thought that thinks without you, speaks where you are not. The live pneumatic form of the soul’s eventual exit from the dead body’s mouth, the sigh restores consciousness to the funeral of being, to the passing away that is existence. Pessimism speaks in piercing aphorisms because first it sighs. “Beyond the sphere passeth the arrow of our sigh. Hafiz! Silence.” 2 … pessimism is guilty of that most inexcusable of Occidental crimes—the crime of not pretending it’s for real. To the pessimist, the ‘real’ world—the world on whose behalf we are expected to wake up in the morning—is a ceaseless index of its own unreality. The pessimist’s day is not an illumined space for the advancement of experience and action, but a permanently and inescapably reflective zone, the vast interior of a mirror where each thing is only insofar as it is, at best, a false image of itself. Within this speculative situation, inside the doubleness of the mirror, pessimism splits into two paths, false and true, one that tries to fix pessimism (establish a relation with the mirror) and decides in favor of the apparent real, and another that totally falls for pessimism (enters the mirror) and communes with the greater reality of the unreal. These two paths are distinguished by their relation to pessimism’s guilt vis-à-vis the world’s reality-project. The first form, that which remains pessimism for the world and puts on a smiling face, stays guilty to itself (i.e. unconscious) and thus turns hypocritical, becoming at once the pessimism of the commoner who really just wants things to be better for himself and the pessimism of the elite who wants to critically refashion reality in his own image. The general form of this worldly, hypocritical pessimism is the impulse to ‘make the world a better place’, which is the global mask under which the world is diurnally made worse. The second form, that which follows pessimism away from the world and ceases to put on a smiling face, refuses guiltiness as itself theessential Occidental mode of pretense and turns honest, becoming at once the intelligent pessimism required of all ordinary action and the radical pessimism necessary for self-knowledge: seeing that no one is capable of doing good. The general form of this universal, honest pessimism is the impulse not to worry, to give up and embrace dereliction, which is the only real way the world is actually improved. Where worldly pessimism is the engine productive of interminably warring secular and sacred religions (good-projects), universal pessimism strives hopelessly for the paradise of a supremely instantiated pessimus: things are getting so bad that there is no longer any time for them to get worse; things are so constantly-instantly worst that this is BEST. Cosmic pessimism is the mode of universal pessimism which can yet discourse with the world, which has not chosen silence and can spread the inconceivably BAD NEWS in an orderly form ( kosmos ) that the world can understand (if it wanted to). … the result of a confusion between the world and a statement about the world. That is what the world is (the result of a confusion between the world and a statement about the world). … a generalized misanthropy without the anthropos. Pessimism crystallizes around this futility—it is its amor fati , rendered as musical form. Pessimism’s love of fate is a blind love, a love of the blindness of being human in a cosmos conceived around the human’s eclipse, a heavy levitation in the contradictory space between the inescapability of its having been and the impossibility of its will-be. Pessimism’s song of futility is a sensible way of loving fate, with a minimum of eros, by means of a kind of matrimonial love of the fatal. As music, pessimism stays open to the irreparable and the inexorable without the binding of affirmation, in the apparent absence of the radical, infinitely surplus will that absolute amor fati seems to require. Crying, laughing, sleeping—what other responses are adequate to a life that is so indifferent? “Unless a man aspires to the impossible, the possible that he achieves will scarcely be worth the trouble of his achieving it. We should aspire to the impossible, to absolute and infinite perfection [….] The apocatastasis is more than a mystical dream: it is a norm of action, it is a beacon for high deeds [….] For true charity is a species of invasion [….] It is not charity to rock and lull our fellow men to sleep in the inertia and heaviness of matter, but rather to arouse them to anguish and torment of spirit.” 3 … the impossibility of ever adequately accounting for one’s relationship to thought. “The paroxysm of interior experience leads you to regions where danger is absolute, because life which self-consciously actualizes its roots in experience can only negate itself [….] There are no arguments [….] On the heights of despair, the passion for the absurd is the only thing that can still throw a demonic light on chaos [….] I live because the mountains do not laugh and the worms do not sing .” 4 It took three attempts before she was fully decapitated, all the while she continued, perhaps miraculously, to sing. According to the earliest account of Cecilia’s martyrdom, the beheading turns out worse. After not severing her head in three strokes, “the cruel executioner left her half dead” (seminecem eam cruentus carnifex dereliquit). 5 Cecilia’s effortlessly powerful endurance of the three strokes—a fitting icon for pessimism as an art of dereliction—demonstrates the “passivity and absence of effort [….] in which divine transcendence is dissolved.” 6 There’s a ghost that grows inside of me, damaged in the making, and there’s a hunt sprung from necessity, elliptical and drowned. Where the moving quiet of our insomnia offers up each thought, there’s a luminous field of grey inertia, and obsidian dreams burnt all the way down. Like words from a pre-waking dream. There is no reason to think that they are not. NOTES 1. Dante Alighieri. Vita Nuova . ed. and trans. Dino S. Cervigni and Edward Vasta. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press. 1995. 41:10. 2. Hafiz of Shiraz. The Divan . trans. H. Wilberforce Clarke. London: Octagon Press. 1974. 10.9. 3. Miguel de Unamuno. The Tragic Sense of Life in Men and Nations . trans. Anthony Kerrigan. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 1972. 305-6. 4. E.M. Cioran. On the Heights of Despair . trans. Ilinca Zarifopol-Johnston. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1992. 9-10. 5. Giacomo Laderchi. S. Caeciliae Virg[inis] et Mart[yris] Acta. . . Rome. 1723. 38. 6. Georges Bataille. On Nietzsche . trans. Bruce Boone. London: Continuum. 2004. 135. See Nicola Masciandaro. “ Half Dead: Parsing Cecilia .” A Commentary on Eugene Thacker’s "Cosmic Pessimism" Gary J. Shipley Pessimism is the refusal to seek distraction, the refusal to remodel failure into a platform for further (doomed) possibilities, the refusal of comfort, the acceptance of the sickness of healthy bodies, the cup of life overflowing with cold vomit. If, as Ligotti suggests when discussing Invasion of the Body Snatchers , 1 humans prefer the anxieties of their familiar human lives to the contentment of an alien one, then the pessimist, we could argue, represents some perverted combination of the two, preferring (presuming he has a choice) the defamiliarization of human life to the contentment of its unquestioned mundanity. The quasi-religious state of mind that Wittgenstein would mention on occasion, that of “feeling absolutely safe,” 2 is a state the pessimist could only imagine being approximated by death, or perhaps some annihilative opiate-induced stupor. This Wittgensteinian commingling of certainty and faith looks every bit the futile gesture, a mere rephrasing of collapse or partial collapse. The only certainty open to the pessimist is that of the toxic formula of life itself—a formula known and lacuna-free. Certainty, far from being the gateway to deliverance, becomes the definitive impediment; and the possibility of salvation, as long as it remains, becomes crucially reliant on postulations of ignorance, epistemic gaps, a perennial incompleteness: “the perfect safety of wooed death […] the warm bath of physical dissolution, the universal unknown engulfing the miniscule unknown.” 3 The height of Leibniz’s Panglossian insanity nurtured the idea that our knowing everything—via the universal calculus—could be accurately described a triumph, as opposed to a nightmare in which our every futility is laid bare. Stagnancy and boredom are perhaps two of the greatest ills of Western civilisation, and the most potent pessimism tells you that you’re stuck with both. The most we can hope for, by way of salvation, is to throw open our despair to the unknown. The fact that Schopenhauer’s pessimism stopped short of morality and allowed him to play the flute, as Nietzsche complained, highlights the predicament of a man who despite having adorned nothingness with a smiling face still found himself alive. The demand here is that it be felt: a cross-contamination of intellect and emotion. The safety net of numerous parentheses makes for a failed philosophy, rather than a philosophy of failure. Depressives make bad pessimists, because, unless they choose to die, living will always infect them with necessities of hope, forcing them to find something, anything (all the various “as ifs”) to make existence tolerable. For as Cioran observed, while “[d]epressions pay attention to life, they are the eyes of the devil, poisoned arrows which wound mortally any zest and love of life. Without them we know little, but with them, we cannot live.” 4 And even when cured of our depressions we’ll find ourselves consumed, eaten alive by the hyper-clinical (borderline autistic) mania that replaces them: a predicament captured all too clearly in the microscriptual fictions of Robert Walser, where spectral men and women stifle their depressive madness with protective comas of detail, their failed assimilations buried beneath thick crusts of remote data. Like Beckett’s Malone their stories may have ended, but cruelly their lives have not. Pessimism is an extraneous burden (a purposeless weight) that makes everything else harder to carry, while at the same time scooping it out and making it lighter. If pessimism had a sound it would be the harsh non-noise of tinnitus—the way that every person would hear themselves if they refused their distractions long enough to listen: a lungless scream from the extrasolar nothing of the self. The music of pessimism—if indeed we can imagine such a thing—is the reverberating echo of the world’s last sound, conjectured but never heard, audible only in its being listened for. The one consolation of this hollow paradox of audibility being, that “he will be least afraid of becoming nothing in death who has recognized that he is already nothing now.” 5 The pessimist suffers a derangement of the real, a labyrinthitis at the nucleus of his being: he’s the stumbling ghost relentlessly surprised that others can see him. If Cioran’s refusal is manifested in sleep (when even saying ‘no’ is too much of a commitment), then Pessoa’s resides in the dreams inside that sleep. Pessoa chooses to exploit the fact that he’s being “lived by some murmuring non-entity both shadowy and muddied” 6 by growing more voids to live him. His is a Gnostic breed of sleep, “sleeping as if the universe were a mistake,” 7 a sleep that dreams through Thacker’s cosmic pessimism (“a pessimism of the world-without-us.”, “the unhuman orientation of deep space and deep time” 8 ), through the critical error of there being anything at all when there could be nothing. The metaphysical pessimist is someone who, however well life treats them, still desires to wake from it, as from the poisonous air of a bad dream. Pessimism is a paradox of age, being simultaneously young and old; its youth residing in a refusal to accept the authority of existence (its rich history, its inherent beneficence), a refusal to “get over” the horror of what it sees with its perpetually fresh eyes, and its maturity in the unceremonious disposal of the philosophical playthings (those futile architectures) of adolescence. As Thacker remarks: “Pessimism abjures all pretenses towards system—towards the purity of analysis and the dignity of critique.” 9 A sentiment shared with Pessoa, who duly categorizes those that choose to enact this futile struggle: “The creators of metaphysical systems and of psychological explanations are still in the primary stage of suffering.” 10 If the pessimist has shared a womb with anyone, it’s with the mystic and not the philosopher. As Schopenhauer tells us: “The mystic is opposed to the philosopher by the fact that he begins from within, whereas the philosopher begins from without. […] But nothing of this is communicable except the assertions that we have to accept on his word; consequently he is unable to convince.” 11 The crucial difference between the mystic and the pessimist is not the latter’s impassivity and defeatism, but his unwillingness/inability to contain in any way the spread of his voracious analyticity, his denial of incompleteness, his exhaustive devotion to failure. The truth of our predicament, though heard, is destined to remain unprocessed. Like the revelations of B.S. Johnson’s Haakon (“We rot and there’s nothing that can stop it / Can’t you feel the shaking horror of that?” 12 ) the pessimist’s truths are somehow too obvious to listen to, as if something inside us were saying, “Of course, but haven’t we gotten over that?” Pessimism is simple and ugly, and has no desire to make itself more complex or more attractive. The true moral pessimist knows that the Utilitarian’s accounts will always be in the red. He can see that for all his computational containments, his only honest path is a negative one, and that such a path has but one logical destination: that of wholesale human oblivion. Thacker notes how at the core of pessimism lies the notion of “the worst,” through which death is demoted by the all-pervasive suffering of a life that easily eclipses its threat. And so with doom made preferable to gloom, death begins to glint with promise, “like beauty passing through a nightmare.” 13 But even among pessimists suicide is, for the most part, thought to be an error. Schopenhauer, for instance, regarded suicide a mistake grounded in some fundamentally naïve disappointment or other. Pessoa too thought suicide an onerous escape tactic: “To die is to become completely other. That’s why suicide is a cowardice: it’s to surrender ourselves completely to life.” 14 There is a call here to be accepting of and creative with the puppetry of your being, an insistence that it’s somehow a blunder to attempt to hide in death from the horrors you find inlife. 15 Tied up with this perseverance is the slippery notion of the good death, for maybe, as Blanchot warns, suicide is rarely something we can hope to get right, for the simple reason that “you cannot make of death an object of the will.” 16 “Even in cases where the entire corpus of an author is pessimistic, the project always seems incomplete,” 17 and this is not simply because the project itself belies something yet to be disclosed, but because the project itself is a thing waiting. It waits on a cure it knows will not come, but for which it cannot do anything (as long as it continues to do anything) but wait. NOTES 1. See Thomas Ligotti. The Conspiracy Against the Human Race . New York: Hippocampus Press. 2010. 91. 2. Ludwig Wittgenstein. “A Lecture on Ethics.” Philosophical Review . (74) 1. 1965. 8. 3. Vladimir Nabokov. Pale Fire . New York: Vintage. 1989. 221. 4. E. M. Cioran. The Book of Delusions . trans. Camelia Elias. Hyperion. 5.1. (2010): 75. 5. Arthur Schopenhauer. The World as Will and Representation. vol. 2 . trans. E .F J. Payne. New York: Dover. 1966. 609. 6. Eugene Thacker. “Cosmic Pessimism.” continent. . 2.2 (2012): 67. 7. Fernando Pessoa. The Book of Disquiet . trans. Richard Zenith. London: Penguin. 2002. 35. 8. Eugene Thacker. “Cosmic Pessimism.” continent. . 2.2 (2012): 68. 9. Ibid. 73. 10. Fernando Pessoa. The Book of Disquiet . trans. Richard Zenith. London: Penguin. 2002. 341. 11. Arthur Schopenhauer. The World as Will and Representation. vol. 2 . trans. E .F J. Payne. New York: Dover. 1966. 610-11. 12. B.S Johnson. “You’re Human Like the Rest of Them.” in Jonathan Coe. Like a Fiery Elephant: The Story of B.S. Johnson . London: Picador. 2004. 177. 13. Fernando Pessoa. The Book of Disquiet . trans. Richard Zenith. London: Penguin. 2002. 415. 14. Ibid. 199. 15. “Suicide is, after all, the opposite of the poem.” Anne Sexton. No Evil Star: Selected Essays, Interviews and Prose . ed. Steven Gould Axelrod. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. 1985. 92. 16. Maurice Blanchot. The Space of Literature . trans. Ann Smock. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. 1989. 105. 17. Eugene Thacker. “Cosmic Pessimism.” continent. . 2.2 (2012): 75. (shrink)
As an emerging discipline, neuroeconomics faces considerable methodological and practical challenges. In this paper, I suggest that these challenges can be understood by exploring the similarities and dissimilarities between the emergence of neuroeconomics and the emergence of cognitive and computational neuroscience two decades ago. From these parallels, I suggest the major challenge facing theory formation in the neural and behavioural sciences is that of being under-constrained by data, making a detailed understanding of physical implementation necessary for theory construction in neuroeconomics. (...) Rather than following a top-down strategy, neuroeconomists should be pragmatic in the use of available data from animal models, information regarding neural pathways and projections, computational models of neural function, functional imaging and behavioural data. By providing convergent evidence across multiple levels of organization, neuroeconomics will have its most promising prospects of success. (shrink)
After more than a decade of reflection on obedience experiments based on a laboratory model of his own design, the social psychologist Stanley Milgram is clearly confident that the experimental results make a substantial and striking contribution towards understanding human nature: Something … dangerous is revealed: the capacity for man to abandon his humanity, indeed, the inevitability that he does so, as he merges his unique personality into larger institutional structures.
Should a theory of meaning state what sentences mean, and can a Davidsonian theory of meaning in particular do so? Max Ko¨lbel answers both questions affirmatively. I argue, however, that the phenomena of non-homophony, non-truth-conditional aspects of meaning, semantic mood, and context-sensitivity provide prima facie obstacles for extending Davidsonian truth-theories to yield meaning-stating theorems. Assessing some natural moves in reply requires a more fully developed conception of the task of such theories than Ko¨lbel provides. A more developed conception is also (...) required to defend his positive answer to the first question above. I argue that, however Ko¨lbel might elaborate his position, it can’t be by embracing the sort of cognitivist account of Davidsonian semantics to which he sometimes alludes. (shrink)
The prisoner 's dilemma game has acquired large literatures in several disciplines. It is surprising, therefore, that a good definition of the game is hard to find. Typically an author relates a story about captured criminals or military rivals, provides a particular payoff matrix and asserts that the PD is characterized, or illustrated, by that matrix. In the few cases in which characterizing conditions are given, the conditions, and the motivations for them, do not always agree with each other or (...) with the paradigm examples elsewhere. In this paper we describe several varieties of PD's. In particular, we suggest there are two distinctions among PD's with philosophical significance, the pure/impure and the utilitarian/nonutilitarian distinctions. In the first section, we explain and characterize the two distinctions. In the second, we discuss an issue of moral philosophy that illustrates the significance of the former. (shrink)
John Finnis's powerfully and deservedly influential modern classic, Natural Law and Natural Rights, expounds a theory of law and morality that is based on a picture of “persons” using practical reason to pursue certain “basic goods.” While devoting much attention to practical reason and to the goods, however, Finnis says little about the nature of personhood. This relative inattention to what “persons” are creates a risk—one that Finnis himself notices—of assuming or importing an inadequate anthropology. This essay suggests that the (...) “new natural law” developed by Finnis suffers in places from the inadvertent adoption of a flawed anthropology—an anthropology under the thrall of modern individualistic commitments. To explain this suspicion, this article discusses three difficulties in his natural law theory: difficulties in accounting for the basic good of friendship, for obligations we owe to others, and for legal authority. These difficulties may seem disconnected, but this article suggests that they may all reflect an inadequate anthropology—one that Finnis does not exactly embrace but that is pervasive today and that in places may affect his theorizing. (shrink)
The article contests Affeldt's critique of Mulhall's "Stanley Cavell: Philosophy's Recounting of the Ordinary," by asking how deep the conflict between what Affeldt proposes as Cavell's account of Wittgenstein's notion of grammar and that of Baker and Hacker really goes. It argues that Affeldt's critique is successful against one interpretation of the claims that grammar consists of a framework of rules and that criteria function as a basis for judgment, but that other interpretations of these claims are available and appear (...) consistent with both Cavell's and Wittgenstein's positions. It concludes by suggesting that the real issue is how to combine a sense of the normativity of grammar with that of the role of the personal in grounding grammatical remarks. (shrink)
A paradox, according to the OED, is ‘a statement seemingly self-contradictory or absurd, though possibly well-founded or essentially true’. In this article I shall try to show that the classical orthodox Marxist view of morality is a paradox. I shall seek to resolve the paradox by trying to show that it is only seemingly self-contradictory or absurd. But I shall not claim the standard Marxist view of morality to be well-founded or essentially true. On the contrary, I shall suggest that, (...) though coherent, it is ill-founded and illusory. (shrink)
1. Introduction The policy of deterrence, at least to avert nuclear war between the superpowers, has been a controversial one. The main controversy arises from the threat of each side to visit destruction on the other in response to an initial attack. This threat would seem irrational if carrying it out would lead to a nuclear holocaust – the worst outcome for both sides. Instead, it would seem better for the side attacked to suffer some destruction rather than to retaliate (...) in kind and, in the process of devastating the other side, seal its own doom in an all-out nuclear exchange. Yet, the superpowers persist in their adherence to deterrence, by which we mean a policy of threatening to retaliate to an attack by the other side in order to deter such an attack in the first place. To be sure, nuclear doctrine for implementing deterrence has evolved over the years, with such appellations as “massive retaliation,” “flexible response,” “mutual assured destruction”, and “counterforce” giving some flavor of the changes in United States strategic thinking. All such doctrines, however, entail some kind of response to a Soviet nuclear attack. They are operationalized in terms of preselected targets to be hit, depending on the perceived nature and magnitude of the attack. Thus, whether U.S. strategic policy at any time stresses a retaliatory attack on cities and industrial centers or on weapons systems and armed forces, the certainty of a response of some kind to an attack is not the issue. (shrink)
In this classic, the world's expert on language and mind lucidly explains everything you always wanted to know about language: how it works, how children learn it, how it changes, how the brain computes it, and how it evolved. With deft use of examples of humor and wordplay, Steven Pinker weaves our vast knowledge of language into a compelling story: language is a human instinct, wired into our brains by evolution. The Language Instinct received the William James Book Prize (...) from the American Psychological Association and the Public Interest Award from the Linguistics Society of America. This edition includes an update on advances in the science of language since The Language Instinct was first published. (shrink)
Steven French articulates and defends the bold claim that there are no objects in the world. He draws on metaphysics and philosophy of science to argue for structural realism--the position that we live in a world of structures--and defends a form of eliminativism about objects that sets laws and symmetry principles at the heart of ontology.
In a recent study, Maguire and colleagues failed to find systematic differences in brain anatomy between world-class memory performers and matched control subjects. The world-class performers exhibited distinctive patterns of brain activation during memorization, but these patterns were directly attributable to the experts' unique encoding strategies and acquired memory skills. Discussed here are the implications for broad attainability of highly skilled memory performance in professional and everyday activities.
Though Kierkegaard never explicitly formulated a theory of religious doctrine, he did have a clear position on the role that Christian doctrine ought to play in the lives of believers. Briefly stated, he maintained that Christianity, as a human activity, involves more than merely believing certain propositions about matters of fact. The doctrines of Christianity take on a true religious significance only when they are given the power to transform the lives of those who accept them; only when they are (...) given expression in the existence of the believer. This was, however, far from evident to Kierkegaard's theological contemporaries who, in the collective absentmindedness of the age, sought to replace the Christian virtue of faith with the philosophical ideal of objective knowledge. (shrink)
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- What will English be like a hundred years from now? No one has ever observed what happens when a language is used for a century in a global village. Will MTV and CNN infiltrate every yurt and houseboat and drive out all other languages? Will regional accents go extinct, leaving everyone sounding like a Midwestern newscaster? Some language lovers worry that e-mail and chat rooms will influence writing & F2F (face-to-face) lang. & leadd it 2 loose it's (...) grammer spllng etc. :-(. (shrink)
The physics and metaphysics of identity and individuality Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9463-7 Authors Don Howard, Department of Philosophy and Graduate Program in History and Philosophy of Science, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA Bas C. van Fraassen, Philosophy Department, San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132, USA Otávio Bueno, Department of Philosophy, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL 33124, USA Elena Castellani, Department of Philosophy, University of Florence, Via Bolognese 52, 50139 (...) Florence, Italy Laura Crosilla, Department of Pure Mathematics, School of Mathematics, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT UK Steven French, Department of Philosophy, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK Décio Krause, Department of Philosophy, Federal University of Santa Catarina, 88040-900 Campus Trindade, Florianópolis, SC Brazil Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796. (shrink)
The vast expressive power of language is made possible by two principles: the arbitrary soundmeaning pairing underlying words, and the discrete combinatorial system underlying grammar. These principles implicate distinct cognitive mechanisms: associative memory and symbolmanipulating rules. The distinction may be seen in the difference between regular inflection (e.g., walk-walked), which is productive and open-ended and hence implicates a rule, and irregular inflection (e.g., come-came, which is idiosyncratic and closed and hence implicates individually memorized words. Nonetheless, two very different theories have (...) attempted to collapse the distinction; generative phonology invokes minor rules to generate irregular as well as regular forms, and connectionism invokes a pattern associator memory to store and retrieve regular as well as irregular forms. I present evidence from three disciplines that supports the traditional word/rule distinction, though with an enriched conception of lexical memory with some of the properties of a pattern-associator. Rules, nonetheless, are distinct from patternassociation, because a rule concatenates a suffix to a symbol for verbs, so it does not require access to memorized verbs or their sound patterns, but applies as the "default," whenever memory access fails. I present a dozen such circumstances, including novel, unusual-sounding, and rootless and headless derived words, in which people inflect the words regularly (explaining quirks like flied out, low-lifes, and Walkmans). A comparison of English to other languages shows that contrary to the connectionist account, default suffixation is not due to numerous regular words reinforcing a pattern in associative memory, but to a memory-independent, symbol-concatenating mental operation. (shrink)
In the mid-1980s, Dario Donatelli participated in a laboratory study of the effects of around 800 h of practice on digit-span and increased his digit-span from 8 to 104 digits. This study assessed changes in the structure of his memory skill after around 30 years of essentially no practice on the digit-span task. On the first day of testing, his estimated span was only 10 digits, but over the following 3 days of testing it increased to 19 digits. Further analyses (...) of his recall performance and verbal reports identified which mechanisms of the original memory skill he could retrieve or reacquire over the 3 days of practice. We discuss theoretical implications for the retention of skilled memory performance, the effects of age-related changes in memory on it, and for the future study of the effects of disuse on exceptional performance and complex skill. (shrink)
Steven French and Decio Krause examine the metaphysical foundations of quantum physics. They draw together historical, logical, and philosophical perspectives on the fundamental nature of quantum particles and offer new insights on a range of important issues. Focusing on the concepts of identity and individuality, the authors explore two alternative metaphysical views; according to one, quantum particles are no different from books, tables, and people in this respect; according to the other, they most certainly are. Each view comes with (...) certain costs attached and after describing their origins in the history of quantum theory, the authors carefully consider whether these costs are worth bearing. Recent contributions to these discussions are analyzed in detail and the authors present their own original perspective on the issues. The final chapter suggests how this perspective can be taken forward in the context of quantum field theory. (shrink)
The Pathology of Man is the first comprehensive study of the psychology and epistemology of human evil, long urged by leading psychiatrists and psychologists, including Freud, Jung, Menninger, Fromm, and Peck. The book breaks new ground by offering a clear, empirically based, and theoretically sound understanding of human evil as a widespread, real, non-metaphorical pathology. With deliberate and thorough scholarship the author proposes a new framework-relative theory of disease and justifies the provocative thesis that human evil should be classified as (...) a pathology which is not a deviation from an accepted norm, but rather is a normal state. This break with tradition provides the necessary psychological foundation for the familiar concept of the banality of human evil, a foundation which in the past it has lacked. (shrink)
Theists believe that God is eternal, but they differ as to just what God's eternality means . The traditional, historic view of most Christian philosophers is that eternality means that God is timeless. He is ‘outside’ of time and not subject to any kind of temporal change. Indeed, God is the creator of time. Lets call this view divine timelessness.