[opening paragraph]: Walter Freeman discusses with Jean Burns some of the issues relating to consciousness in his recent book. Burns: To understand consciousness we need know its relationship to the brain, and to do that we need to know how the brain processes information. A lot of people think of brain processing in terms of individual neurons, and you're saying that brain processing should be understood in terms of dynamical states of populations?
[The following notes, from a MS. of Headlam's, now published by permission of the Syndics of the Cambridge University Press, give the substance of a lecture which Headlam delivered in Cambridge but did not publish, though some account of it is given in the memoir by Mr. Cecil Headlam . A few verbal alterations have been made for the sake of clearness and some references added.—GEORGE THOMSON].
What is the origin of the concept of a law of nature? How much does it owe to theology and metaphysics? To what extent do the laws of nature permit contingency? Are there exceptions to the laws of nature? Is it possible to give a reductive analysis of lawhood, or is it a primitive? -/- Twelve brand-new essays by an international team of leading philosophers take up these and other central questions on the laws of nature, whilst also examining some (...) of the most important intuitions and assumptions that have guided the debate over laws of nature since the concept's invention in the seventeenth century. -/- Laws of Nature spans the history of philosophy and of science, contemporary metaphysics, and contemporary philosophy of science. Contents: 1. Intuitions and Assumptions in the Debate over Laws of Nature, Walter Ott and Lydia Patton 2. Early Modern Roots of the Philosophical Concept of a Law of Nature, Helen Hattab 3. Laws of Nature and the Divine Order of Things: Descartes and Newton on Truth in Natural Philosophy, Mary Domski 4. Leges sive natura: Bacon, Spinoza, and a Forgotten Concept of Law, Walter Ott 5. Laws and Powers in the Frame of Nature, Stathis Psillos 6. Laws and Ideal Unity, Angela Breitenbach 7. Becoming Humean, John W. Carroll 8. A Perspectivalist Better Best System Account of Lawhood, Michela Massimi 9. Laws: An Invariance Based Account, James Woodward 10. How the Explanations of Natural Laws Make Some Reducible Physical Properties Natural and Explanatorily Powerful, Marc Lange 11. Laws and their Exceptions, Stephen Mumford 12. Are laws of nature consistent with contingency?, Nancy Cartwright and Pedro Merlussi. (shrink)
This book examines John Locke's claims about the nature and workings of language. Walter Ott proposes an interpretation of Locke's thesis in which words signify ideas in the mind of the speaker, and argues that rather than employing such notions as sense or reference, Locke relies on an ancient tradition that understands signification as reliable indication. He then uses this interpretation to explain crucial areas of Locke's metaphysics and epistemology, including essence, abstraction, knowledge and mental representation. His discussion challenges (...) many of the orthodox readings of Locke, and will be of interest to historians of philosophy and philosophers of language alike. (shrink)
In this book, Alison Ross engages in a detailed study of Walter Benjamin’s concept of the image, exploring the significant shifts in Benjamin’s approach to the topic over the course of his career. Using Kant’s treatment of the topic of sensuous form in his aesthetics as a comparative reference, Ross argues that Benjamin’s thinking on the image undergoes a major shift between his 1924 essay on ‘Goethe’s Elective Affinities ,’ and his work on The Arcades Project from 1927 up (...) until his death in 1940 . The two periods of Benjamin’s writing share a conception of the image as a potent sensuous force able to provide a frame of existential meaning. In the earlier period this function attracts Benjamin’s critical attention, whereas in the later he mobilises it for revolutionary outcomes. The book gives a critical treatment of the shifting assumptions in Benjamin’s writing about the image that warrant this altered view. It draws on hermeneutic studies of meaning, scholarship in the history of religions and key texts from the modern history of aesthetics to track the reversals and contradictions in the meaning functions that Benjamin attaches to the image in the different periods of his thinking. Above all, it shows the relevance of a critical consideration of Benjamin’s writing on the image for scholarship in visual culture, critical theory, aesthetics and philosophy more broadly. (shrink)
Walter Dubislav (1895–1937) was a leading member of the Berlin Group for scientific philosophy. This “sister group” of the more famous Vienna Circle emerged around Hans Reichenbach’s seminars at the University of Berlin in 1927 and 1928. Dubislav was to collaborate with Reichenbach, an association that eventuated in their conjointly conducting university colloquia. Dubislav produced original work in philosophy of mathematics, logic, and science, consequently following David Hilbert’s axiomatic method. This brought him to defend formalism in these disciplines as (...) well as to explore the problems of substantiating (Begründung) human knowledge. Dubislav also developed elements of general philosophy of science. Sadly, the political changes in Germany in 1933 proved ruinous to Dubislav. He published scarcely anything after Hitler came to power and in 1937 committed suicide under tragic circumstances. The intent here is to pass in review Dubislav’s philosophy of logic, mathematics, and science and so to shed light on some seminal yet hitherto largely neglected currents in the history of philosophy of science. (shrink)
Few twentieth-century thinkers have proven as influential as Walter Benjamin, the German-Jewish philosopher and cultural and literary critic. Richard Wolin's book remains among the clearest and most insightful introductions to Benjamin's writings, offering a philosophically rich exposition of his complex relationship to Adorno, Brecht, Jewish Messianism, and Western Marxism. Wolin provides nuanced interpretations of Benjamin's widely studied writings on Baudelaire, historiography, and art in the age of mechanical reproduction. In a new Introduction written especially for this edition, Wolin discusses (...) the unfinished _Arcades Project_, as well as recent tendencies in the reception of Benjamin's work and the relevance of his ideas to contemporary debates about modernity and postmodernity. (shrink)
This article reviews concepts of, as well as neurocognitive and genetic studies on, empathy. Whereas cognitive empathy can be equated with affective theory of mind, that is, with mentalizing the emotions of others, affective empathy is about sharing emotions with others. The neural circuits underlying different forms of empathy do overlap but also involve rather specific brain areas for cognitive (ventromedial prefrontal cortex) and affective (anterior insula, midcingulate cortex, and possibly inferior frontal gyrus) empathy. Furthermore, behavioral and imaging genetic studies (...) provide evidence for a genetic basis for empathy, indicating a possible role for oxytocin and dopamine as well as for a genetic risk variant for schizophrenia near the gene ZNF804A. (shrink)
Walter Burley is the author of a treatise, entitled De primo et ultimo instanti, which is regarded as the most popular medieval work on the problem of assigning first and last instants of being to permanent things. In this paper, however, the author does not deal with this treatise directly. She looks instead at Burley’s Physics commentary to see how he applies the ideas presented in De primo et ultimo instanti to the solution of an Aristotelian puzzle about the (...) ceasing to be of the present instant. In Burley’s interpretation, the relevant question raised by the puzzle is whether the present instant ceases to be when it is or when it is not. While Aristotle’s argument quickly dismisses the first alternative as absurd, Burley defends it by appealing to the ‘expositions’ of sentences about ceasing. Given that the sentence ‘this instant ceases to be’ has two expositions— ‘this instant now is and immediately afterwards will not be’ or ‘this instant now is not and immediately beforehand was’ —Burley maintains that the sentence is true in exposition but not true in exposition, so that an instant ceases to be when it is and not when it is not. (shrink)
On a currently popular reading of Locke, an idea represents its cause, or what God intended to be its cause. Against Martha Bolton and my former self (among others), I argue that Locke cannot hold such a view, since it sins against his epistemology and theory of abstraction. I argue that Locke is committed to a resemblance theory of representation, with the result that ideas of secondary qualities are not representations.
This paper examines Jaegwon Kim's Supervenience Argument (SA) against nonreductive physicalism, concentrating on Kim's response to two of the most important objections against the SA: First, the Overdetermination Argument, according to which Kim has no convincing argument against the possibility that mental causation might be a case of genuine or systematic overdetermination; second, the Generalization Argument, according to which the SA would entail that causation at any level gives way to causation at the next lower level, thereby leading to an (...) untenable all-encompassing epiphenomenalism. It is argued that as of yet, Kim has failed to develop a coherent overall position, since various moves he makes in response to these criticisms are strangely at odds with other parts of his philosophical position. (shrink)
In a recent contribution to this journal, Andrew Fenton and Sheri Alpert have argued that the so-called “extended mind hypothesis” allows us to understand why Brain Computer Interfaces (BCIs) have the potential to change the self of patients suffering from Locked-in syndrome (LIS) by extending their minds beyond their bodies. I deny that this can shed any light on the theoretical, or philosophical, underpinnings of BCIs as a tool for enabling communication with, or bodily action by, patients with LIS: BCIs (...) are not a case of cognitive extension. I argue that Fenton and Alpert’s claim to the contrary is the result of a widespread confusion about some related, but significantly different, approaches to cognition that all fall under the heading of “situated cognition.” I first provide a short taxonomy of various situated approaches to cognition, highlighting (some of) their important commonalities and differences, which should dissolve some of the confusions surrounding them. Then I show why the extended mind hypothesis is unsuitable as a model of BCI enhancements of LIS patients’ capacity to interact with their surroundings, and I argue that the situated approach with obvious bearings on the sort of questions that were driving Fenton and Alpert is not the idea that cognition is extended , but the idea that cognition is enacted. (shrink)