Only our lineage has ever used trackways reading to find unseen and unheard targets. All other terrestrial animals, including our great ape cousins, use scent trails and airborne odors. Because trackways as natural signs have very different properties, they possess an information-rich narrative structure. There is good evidence we began to exploit conspecific trackways in our deep past, at first purely associatively, for safety and orienteering when foraging in vast featureless wetlands. Since our own old trackways were recognizable they were (...) self-mirroring, triggering memories of what we had been up to in the past. Using them to find our way back to the band when temporarily lost or to re-find a resource-rich area discovered the day before enabled optimal foraging. Selection for daily reiteration of one’s own old trackways therefore triggered the evolution of what is distinctive about human cognition: the autobiographical or narrative (episodic) faculty for imaginative self-projection. This faculty enabled us to glean useful social information from the stories “told” by other band members’ old trackways, and created spin-off capacities for fast-track social learning. Resultant increases in socioecological complexity then created positive selective feedback loops for further entrenchment. Incrementally we became the ultra-social narrative-minded ape, capable of creating cumulative culture. (shrink)
The social trackways theory is centered on the remarkable 3.66 mya Laetoli Fossilized Trackways, for they incontrovertibly reveal our ancestors were already obligate bipeds with very human-like feet, and were intentionally stepping in other band members’ footprints to maintain safe footing. Trackways are unique among natural sign systems in possessing a depictive narratively generative structure, somewhat like the symbolic sign systems of gestural languages. Therefore, due to daily embodied reiteration of their own and other band member’s old footprints, both for (...) bipedal safety and as recognizable wayfinding markers for socio-ecological navigation, incrementally our Mid-Pliocene ancestors began to acquire a cognitive capacity for episodic personal memories and episodic future simulations. They began mentally representing themselves as intentional agents continuously travelling from the past into the future. This spatially and temporally self-projecting awareness manifested itself as extra theory of mind and mental space-and-time-travel capacities, which increasingly enabled intentional or conscious, top-down executive adjustment of past behaviors for the sake of achieving better ways of doing things in the future. Future-directed behavioral and cultural adaptations began to increase fitness in all domains, thus creating powerful selective feedback for further entrenchment. Here we focus on overtly or consciously intentional exploratory wayfinding and transmission of elsewhere-and-when information, using pragmatic, discursive modes of communication, which enabled far more cooperative and efficient foraging practices. Selection for better communication thus led to intentional trail marking and the earliest emergence of more conventional/symbolic depictive and gestural “protolanguages.”. (shrink)
In contemporary American poetry, poets practice open form. Charles Olson, Robert Duncan, Paul Blackburn, Robert Creeley, Jack Spicer, Denise Levertov, Gary Snyder, Allen Ginsberg, Edward Dorn, Louis Zukofsky, John Ashbery, and Frank O'Hara belong to this school of open form. Their open form advocates creative spontaneity, fragmentation, and juxtaposition. It repudiates thematic and formal closure and requires of its readers a willingness to value a poem as process and event. Recent studies of open form inform us that in both (...) theory and practice they descended from Pound and Williams. However, my intention is to establish the foreground of open form in the poetics and poetry of Yeats, Pound, and Eliot. My major objective is to establish Yeats as the precursor of the poetics of open form, and then to apply his poetics to his poetry, and to those of Pound and Eliot. ;Part I, with the aid of the theories of language by Paul de Man, Jacques Derrida, Jacques Lacan, and Martin Heidegger, examines the linguistic turn revealed in Yeats's A Vision which manifests the poetics of open form through the rhetoric of prophecy. Chapter One defines the concept of the Unity of Being. Chapter Two illustrates how Yeats disciplines himself in his poetic quest for the Unity of Being. Chapter Three defines prophecy and the rhetoric of prophecy. Exergue, an inter-chapter, surveys and assesses contemporary theories of language in an attempt to relate metaphor to rhetoric. Chapter Four closely examines A Vision in the light of the rhetoric of prophecy and poetics of open form. ;Part II demonstrates how the poetry of Yeats, Pound and Eliot provides the praxis of Yeats's poetics. Conclusion discusses the poetics of Duncan, Olson, and Levertov and show how they reflect Yeats's, thereby demonstrating the continuity between the poetry of modernism and postmodernism. (shrink)
Pragmatists have traditionally been enemies of representationalism but friends of naturalism, when naturalism is understood to pertain to human subjects, in the sense of Hume and Nietzsche. In this volume Huw Price presents his distinctive version of this traditional combination, as delivered in his René Descartes Lectures at Tilburg University in 2008. Price contrasts his view with other contemporary forms of philosophical naturalism, comparing it with other pragmatist and neo-pragmatist views such as those of Robert Brandom and Simon Blackburn. (...) Linking their different 'expressivist' programmes, Price argues for a radical global expressivism that combines key elements from both. With Paul Horwich and Michael Williams, Brandom and Blackburn respond to Price in new essays. Price replies in the closing essay, emphasising links between his views and those of Wilfrid Sellars. The volume will be of great interest to advanced students of philosophy of language and metaphysics. (shrink)
I critically examine an argument, due to howard wettstein, purporting to show that sentences containing definite descriptions are semantically ambiguous between referential and attributive readings. Wettstein argues that many sentences containing nonidentifying descriptions--descriptions that apply to more than one object--cannot be given a Russellian analysis, and that the descriptions in these sentences should be understood as directly referential terms. But because Wettstein does not justify treating referential uses of nonidentifying descriptions differently than attributive uses of nonidentifying descriptions, his argument fails.
The author of the highly popular book Think, which Time magazine hailed as "the one book every smart person should read to understand, and even enjoy, the key questions of philosophy," Simon Blackburn is that rara avis--an eminent thinker who is able to explain philosophy to the general reader. Now Blackburn offers a tour de force exploration of what he calls "the most exciting and engaging issue in the whole of philosophy"--the age-old war over truth. The front lines (...) of this war are well defined. On one side are those who believe in plain, unvarnished facts, rock-solid truths that can be found through reason and objectivity--that science leads to truth, for instance. Their opponents mock this idea. They see the dark forces of language, culture, power, gender, class, ideology and desire--all subverting our perceptions of the world, and clouding our judgement with false notions of absolute truth. Beginning with an early skirmish in the war--when Socrates confronted the sophists in ancient Athens--Blackburn offers a penetrating look at the longstanding battle these two groups have waged, examining the philosophical battles fought by Plato, Protagoras, William James, David Hume, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Richard Rorty, and many others, with a particularly fascinating look at Nietzsche. Among the questions Blackburn considers are: is science mere opinion, can historians understand another historical period, and indeed can one culture ever truly understand another. Blackburn concludes that both sides have merit, and that neither has exclusive ownership of truth. What is important is that, whichever side we embrace, we should know where we stand and what is to be said for our opponents. (shrink)
Practical philosophy and ethics -- Practical tortise raising -- Truth, beauty, and goodness -- Dilemmas: dithering, plumping, and grief -- Group minds and expressive harm -- Trust, cooperation, and human psychology -- Must we weep for sentimentalism? -- Through thick and thin -- Perspectives, fictions, errors, play -- The steps from doing to saying -- Success semantics -- Wittgenstein's irrealism -- Circles, finks, smells, and biconditionals -- The absolute conception: Putnam vs. Williams -- Julius Caesar and George Berkeley play leapfrog (...) -- The majesty of reason -- Fiction and conviction. (shrink)
Henrich et al. convincingly caution against the overgeneralization of findings from particular human populations, but fail to apply their own compelling reasoning to our nearest living relatives, the great apes. Here we argue that rearing history is every bit as important for understanding cognition in other species as it is in humans.
In the conclusion to “A World of Pure Experience”, William James writes, “experience grows by its edges.” I explore what this may mean vis-à-vis Chicanx culture and Spanglish to argue that Chicanxs are neither a bastardization of Anglo or Mexican people and culture, nor is Spanglish a bastardization of English or Español, and that in some ways Chicanxs feel their Mexicanidad more palpably than Mexicans who live in the interior of Mexico, where one’s Mexicanidad is not a predominant identifier. (...) I first explain the process metaphysics that James espouses as well as his view of the lived experience. I build on these two Jamesian concepts and work with the chapter “The Pachuco and Other Extremes” from Octavio Paz’s The Labyrinth of Solitude, as well as Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera to explore the experience of being a Chicana and speaking Spanglish on the U.S-Mexico border. (shrink)
Since its inception in 2010, the Network for Public Health Law has aligned with federal, state, tribal, and local public health practitioners to assess how law can promote and protect the public’s health. In 2013, Network authors illustrated major trends in public health laws and policies emanating from an internal assessment of thousands of requests for technical assistance nationally. More recently, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has invited the Network and other partners to consider new ideas and strategies toward building (...) a “culture of health.” Per Figure 1, RWJF’s conception of a culture of health emphasizes key action areas essential to the promotion of health across all sectors and diverse populations. (shrink)
In this paper I contemplate two phenomena that have impressed theorists concerned with the domain of reasons and of what is now called ‘normativity’. One is the much-discussed ‘externality’ of reasons. According to this, reasons are just there, anyway. They exist whether or not agents take any notice of them. They do not only exist in the light of contingent desires or mere inclinations. They are ‘external’ not ‘internal’. They bear on us, even when through ignorance or wickedness we take (...) no notice of them. They thus very conspicuously shine the lights of objectivity, and independence, and even necessity. By basking in this light, ethics is rescued from the slough of sentiment and preference, and regains the dignity denied to it by theorists such as Hobbes or Hume, Williams, Gibbard or myself. Hence, many contemporary philosophers compete to stress and to extol the external nature of reasons, their shining objectivity. The other phenomenon is that of the inescapable ‘normativity’ of means-ends reasoning. Here the irrationality of intending an end but failing to intend the means is a different shining beacon. It is that of pure practical reason in operation: an indisputable norm, again showing a sublime indifference to whatever weaknesses people actually have, and ideally fitted to provide a Trojan horse for inserting rationality into practical life. If the means-end principle is both unmistakably practical and yet the darling child of rationality itself, then other principles of consistency or of humanity, or of universalizing the maxims of our action, can perhaps follow through the breach in the Humean citadel that it has spearheaded. And so we get the dazzling prospect that if people who choose badly are choosing against reason, then this can be seen to be a special and grave defect. It would locate the kind of fault they are indulging. It would give us, the people of reason, a special lever with which to dislodge their vices. Being able to herd knaves and villains in a compound reserved for those who trespass against reason and rationality therefore represents definite progress. (shrink)
Abstract In this piece I take issue with Bernard Williams's interpretation of Herodotus as lacking something of our conception of time. I claim that there is nothing so unusual in the interleaving of myth or fiction and history that Williams finds in Herodotus. I also reflect on the difficulty of separating acceptance of truth from acceptance of myth, metaphor, and model, not only in history but also in science.
Williams’s arguments against the morality system are given canonical form in Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy, chapter 10, where he undertakes to describe this particular form of ethical thinking and explain “why we would be better off without it”.
A growing body of literature critical of ethics review boards has drawn attention to the processes used to determine the ethical merit of research. Citing criticism on the bureaucratic nature of ethics review processes, this literature provides a useful provocation for considering how the ethics review might be enacted. Much of this criticism focuses on how ethics review boards deliberate, with particular attention given to the lack of transparency and opportunities for researcher recourse that characterise ethics review processes. Centered specifically (...) on the conduct of ethics review boards convened within university settings, this paper draws on these inherent criticisms to consider the ways that ethics review boards might enact more communicative and deliberative practices. Outlining a set of principles against which ethics review boards might establish strategies for engaging with researchers and research communities, this paper draws attention to how Deliberative communication, Engagement with researchers and the Distribution of responsibility for the ethics review might be enacted in the day-to-day practice of the university human ethics review board. This paper develops these themes via a conceptual lens derived from Habermas’ articulation of ‘communicative action’ and Fraser’s, 56–80, 1990) consideration of ‘strong publics’ to cast consideration of the role that human ethics review boards might play in supporting university research cultures. Deliberative communication, Engagement with researchers and the Distribution of responsibility provide useful conceptual prompts for considering how ethics review boards might undertake their work. (shrink)
Philosophers and scientists are concerned with the why and the how of things. Questions like the following are so much grist for the philosopher’s and scientist’s mill: How can we be free and yet live in a deterministic universe?, How do neural processes give rise to conscious experience?, Why does conscious experience accompany certain physiological events at all?, How is a three-dimensional perception of depth generated by a pair of two-dimensional retinal images?. Since Belnap and Steel’s pioneering work on the (...) logic of questions, Van Fraassen has managed to apply their approach in constructing an account of the logic of why-questions. Comparatively little, by contrast, has been written on the logic of how-questions despite the apparent centrality of questions such as How is it possible for us to be both free and determined? to philosophical enterprise.1 In what follows I develop a logic for how-questions of various sorts including how-questions of cognitive resolution, how-questions of manner, how-questions of method, of means, and of mechanism. (shrink)
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