"The philosophy of mind is unique among contemporary philosophical subjects," writes John Searle, "in that all of the most famous and influential theories are false." In Mind, Searle dismantles these famous and influential theories as he presents a vividly written, comprehensive introduction to the mind. Here readers will find one of the world's most eminent thinkers shedding light on the central concern of modern philosophy. Searle begins with a look at the twelve problems of philosophy of (...) class='Hi'>mind--which he calls "Descartes and Other Disasters"--problems which he returns to throughout the volume, as he illuminates such topics as the freedom of the will, the actual operation of mental causation, the nature and functioning of the unconscious, the analysis of perception, and the concept of the self. One of the key chapters is on the mind-body problem, which Searle analyzes brilliantly. He argues that all forms of consciousness--from feeling thirsty to wondering how to translate Mallarme--are caused by the behavior of neurons and are realized in the brain system, which is itself composed of neurons. But this does not mean that consciousness is nothing but neuronal behavior. The main point of having the concept of consciousness, Searle points out, is to capture the first person subjective features of the phenomenon and this point is lost if we redefine consciousness in third person objective terms. Described as a "dragonslayer by temperament," John Searle offers here a refreshingly direct and open discussion of philosophy, one that skewers accepted wisdom even as it offers striking new insights into the nature of consciousness and the mind. (shrink)
Shapiro tests these hypotheses against two rivals, the mental constraint thesis and the embodied mind thesis. Collecting evidence from a variety of sources (e.g., neuroscience, evolutionary theory, and embodied cognition) he concludes that the multiple realizability thesis, accepted by most philosophers as a virtual truism, is much less obvious than commonly assumed, and that there is even stronger reason to give up the separability thesis. In contrast to views of mind that tempt us to see the mind (...) as simply being resident in a brain or body, Shapiro argues for a far more encompassing integration of mind, brain, and body than philosophers have supposed. (publisher, edited). (shrink)
Professor Hilary Putnam has been one of the most influential and sharply original of recent American philosophers in a whole range of fields. His most important published work is collected here, together with several new and substantial studies, in two volumes. The first deals with the philosophy of mathematics and of science and the nature of philosophical and scientific enquiry; the second deals with the philosophy of language and mind. Volume one is now issued in a new edition, including (...) an essay on the philosophy of logic first published in 1971. (shrink)
The modern materialist approach to life has conspicuously failed to explain such central mind-related features of our world as consciousness, intentionality, meaning, and value. This failure to account for something so integral to nature as mind, argues philosopher Thomas Nagel, is a major problem, threatening to unravel the entire naturalistic world picture, extending to biology, evolutionary theory, and cosmology.Since minds are features of biological systems that have developed through evolution, the standard materialist vision of evolutionary biology is fundamentally (...) incomplete. And the cosmological history that led to the origin of life and the coming into existence of the conditions for evolution cannot be a merely materialist history, either. An adequate conception of nature would have to explain the appearance in the universe of materially irreducible conscious minds, as such.Nagel's skepticism is not based on religious belief or on a belief in any definite alternative. In Mind and Cosmos, he does suggest that if the materialist account is wrong, then principles of a different kind may also be at work in the history of nature, principles of the growth of order that are in their logical form theological rather than mechanic.In spite of the great achievements of the physical sciences, reductive materialism is a world view ripe for displacement. Nagel shows that to recognize its limits is the first step in looking for alternatives, or at least in being open to their possibility. (shrink)
Matthew Soteriou provides an original philosophical account of sensory and cognitive aspects of consciousness. He explores distinctions of temporal character in our mental lives--especially in relation to the exercise of agency--and illuminates the more general issue of the place and role of mental action in the metaphysics of mind.
CURRENT CONTROVERSIES about the Mind-Body Identity Theory form a case-study for the investigation of the methods practiced by linguistic philosophers. Recent criticisms of these methods question that philosophers can discern lines of demarcation between "categories" of entities, and thereby diagnose "conceptual confusions" in "reductionist" philosophical theories. Such doubts arise once we see that it is very difficult, and perhaps impossible, to draw a firm line between the "conceptual" and the "empirical," and thus to differentiate between a statement embodying a (...) conceptual confusion and one that expresses a surprising empirical result. The proponent of the Identity Theory are identical with certain brain-processes) holds that his opponents' arguments to the effect that empirical inquiry could not identify brain-processes and sensations are admirable illustrations of this difficulty. For, he argues, the classifications of linguistic expressions that are the ground of his opponents' criticism are classifications of a language which is as it is because it is the language spoken at a given stage of empirical inquiry. But the sort of empirical results that would show brain processes and sensations to be identical would also bring about changes in our ways of speaking. These changes would make these classifications out of date. To argue against the Identity Theory on the basis of the way we talk now is like arguing against an assertion that supernatural phenomena are identical with certain natural phenomena on the basis of the way in which superstitious people talk. There is simply no such thing as a method of classifying linguistic expressions that has results guaranteed to remain intact despite the results of future empirical inquiry. Thus in this area there is no method which will have the sort of magisterial neutrality of which linguistic philosophers fondly dream. (shrink)
What is attention? How does attention shape consciousness? In an approach that engages with foundational topics in the philosophy of mind, the theory of action, psychology, and the neurosciences this book provides a unified and comprehensive answer to both questions. Sebastian Watzl shows that attention is a central structural feature of the mind. The first half of the book provides an account of the nature of attention. Attention is prioritizing, it consists in regulating priority structures. Attention is not (...) another element of the mind, but constituted by structures that organize, integrate, and coordinate the parts of our mind. Attention thus integrates the perceptual and intellectual, the cognitive and motivational, and the epistemic and practical. The second half of the book concerns the relationship between attention and consciousness. Watzl argues that attentional structure shapes consciousness into what is central and what is peripheral. The center-periphery structure of consciousness cannot be reduced to the structure of how the world appears to the subject. What it is like for us thus goes beyond the way the world appears to us. On this basis, a new view of consciousness is offered. In each conscious experience we actively take a stance on the world we appear to encounter. It is in this sense that our conscious experience is our subjective perspective. (shrink)
_Wittgenstein, Mind and Meaning_ offers a provocative re-reading of Wittgenstein's later writings on language and mind, and explores the tensions between Wittgenstein's ideas and contemporary cognitivist conceptions of the mental. This book addresses both Wittgenstein's later works as well as contemporary issues in philosophy of mind. It provides fresh insight into the later Wittgenstein and raises vital questions about the foundations of cognitivism and its wider implications for psychology and cognitive science.
How do rational minds make contact with the world? The empiricist tradition sees a gap between mind and world, and takes sensory experience, fallible as it is, to provide our only bridge across that gap. In its crudest form, for example, the traditional idea is that our minds consult an inner realm of sensory experience, which provides us with evidence about the nature of external reality. Notoriously, however, it turns out to be far from clear that there is any (...) viable conception of experience which allows it to do the job. The original problem is to show that thought is rationally constrained by external reality. If sensory experience is to provide the solution--in particular, if it is to provide the answer to sceptical challenges--it must therefore meet two criteria. First, it must itself be `receptive'--i.e., appropriately constrained by external reality. Second, it must be the kind of thing that can enter into a logical or rational relationship with belief--it must already be `conceptual,' in other words. In arguing against the idea that anything could serve both roles, Wilfred Sellars termed this conception of experience "the Myth of the Given.". (shrink)
What are the most fundamental features of the world? Do minds stand outside the natural order? Is a unified picture of mental and physical reality possible? The Mind in Nature provides a staunchly realist account of the world as a unified system incorporating both the mental and the physical.
_The Phenomenological Mind_ is the first book to properly introduce fundamental questions about the mind from the perspective of phenomenology. Key questions and topics covered include: • what is phenomenology? • naturalizing phenomenology and the cognitive sciences • phenomenology and consciousness • consciousness and self-consciousness • time and consciousness • intentionality • the embodied mind • action • knowledge of other minds • situated and extended minds • phenomenology and personal identity. This second edition includes a new preface, (...) and revised and improved chapters. Also included are helpful features such as chapter summaries, guides to further reading, and a glossary, making _The Phenomenological Mind_ an ideal introduction to key concepts in phenomenology, cognitive science and philosophy of mind. (shrink)
Cognitive science is the project of understanding the mind by modelling its workings. Its development is one of the most remarkable and fascinating intellectual achievements of the modern era. Mind as Machine is a masterful history of cognitive science, told by one of its most eminent practitioners.
Recent philosophy of mind has had a mistaken conception of the nature of psychological concepts. It has assumed too much similarity between psychological judgments and those of natural science and has thus overlooked the fact that other people are not just objects whose thoughts we may try to predict and control but fellow creatures with whom we talk and co-operate. In this collection of essays, Jane Heal argues that central to our ability to arrive at views about others' thoughts (...) is not knowledge of some theory of the mind but rather an ability to imagine alternative worlds and how things appear from another person's point of view. She then applies this view to questions of how we represent others' thoughts, the shape of psychological concepts, the nature of rationality and the possibility of first person authority. This book should appeal to students and professionals in philosophy of mind and language. (shrink)
Consciousness and Mind presents David Rosenthal's influential work on the nature of consciousness. Central to that work is Rosenthal's higher-order-thought theory of consciousness, according to which a sensation, thought, or other mental state is conscious if one has a higher-order thought that one is in that state. The first four essays develop various aspects of that theory. The next three essays present Rosenthal's homomorphism theory of mental qualities and qualitative consciousness, and show how that theory fits with and helps (...) sustain the HOT theory. A crucial feature of homomorphism theory is that it individuates and taxonomizes mental qualities independently of the way we're conscious of them, and indeed independently of our being conscious of them at all. So the theory accommodates the qualitative character not only of conscious sensations and perceptions, but also of those which fall outside our stream of consciousness. Rosenthal argues that, because this account of mental qualities makes no appeal to consciousness, it enables us to dispel such traditional quandaries as the alleged conceivability of undetectable quality inversion, and to disarm various apparent obstacles to explaining qualitative consciousness and understanding its nature. Six further essays build on the HOT theory to explain various important features of consciousness, among them the complex connections that hold in humans between consciousness and speech, the self-interpretative aspect of consciousness, and the compelling sense we have that consciousness is unified. Two of the essays, one an extended treatment of homomorphism theory, appear here for the first time. There is also a substantive introduction, which draws out the connections between the essays and highlights their implications. (shrink)
Is linguistic meaning to be accounted for independently of the states of mind of language users, or can it only be explained in terms of them? If the latter, what account of the mental states in question avoids circularity? In this book Brian Loar offers a subtle and comprehensive theory that both preserves the natural priority of the mind in explanations of meaning, and gives an independent characterisation of its features. the nature of meaning and its relation to (...) the mind is probably the area of paramount concern among philosophers. The theory presented here, by its reach and substance and the thoroughness and sophistication of its development, makes a major contribution to the debate. (shrink)
We often consciously will our own actions. This experience is so profound that it tempts us to believe that our actions are caused by consciousness. It could also be a trick, however – the mind’s way of estimating its own apparent authorship by drawing causal inferences about relationships between thoughts and actions. Cognitive, social, and neuropsychological studies of apparent mental causation suggest that experiences of conscious will frequently depart from actual causal processes and so might not reﬂect direct perceptions (...) of conscious thought causing action. (shrink)
Quine has spoken of bringing our beliefs about the world before “the tribunal of experience.” In Mind and World, McDowell agrees that this is what we must do, but he argues forcefully that Quine’s conception of experience as nothing more than a neuronal cause of verbal responses loses the whole idea that experiences can justify beliefs. McDowell’s overarching aim is to determine conditions that experience must satisfy if it is to be genuinely a tribunal.
Elements of Mind provides a unique introduction to the main problems and debates in contemporary philosophy of mind. Author Tim Crane opposes those currently popular conceptions of the mind that divide mental phenomena into two very different kinds (the intentional and the qualitative) and proposes instead a challenging and unified theory of all the phenomena of mind. In light of this theory, Crane engages students with the central problems of the philosophy of mind--the mind-body (...) problem, the problem of intentionality (or mental representation), the problem of consciousness, and the problem of perception--and attempts to find solutions to these problems. A fresh and engaging exploration of the main issues in the philosophy of mind, Elements of Mind is easily accessible to students with no background in the subject. (shrink)
Mind in Action challenges the dominant view in contemporary philosophy that human action is driven by thoughts and desires much as a machine is made to function by the operation of physical causes. Bede Rundle rejects the materialist view of mind and the causal theory of action; his alternative approach elucidates such key concepts as thought, belief, desire, intention, and freedom to give a fresh view of human behavior.
In view of the philosophical problems that vex the debate on situated affectivity, it can seem wise to focus on simple cases. Accordingly, theorists often single out scenarios in which an individual employs a device in order to enhance their emotional experience, or to achieve new kinds of experience altogether, such as playing an instrument, going to the movies or sporting a fancy handbag. I argue that this narrow focus on cases that fit a ‘user/resource model’ tends to channel attention (...) away from more complex and also more problematic instances of situated affectivity. Among these are scenarios in which a social domain draws individuals into certain modes of affective interaction, often by way of attunement and habituation to affective styles and interaction patterns that are normative in the domain in question. This can lead to a phenomenon that is not so much ‘mind extension’ than ‘mind invasion’: affectivity is dynamically framed and modulated from without, often contrary to the prior orientations of the individuals in question. As an example, I discuss affective patterns prevalent in today’s corporate workplace. I claim that workplace affect sometimes contributes to what is effectively a ‘hack’ of employees’ subjectivity. (shrink)
Mind perception entails ascribing mental capacities to other entities, whereas moral judgment entails labeling entities as good or bad or actions as right or wrong. We suggest that mind perception is the essence of moral judgment. In particular, we suggest that moral judgment is rooted in a cognitive template of two perceived minds—a moral dyad of an intentional agent and a suffering moral patient. Diverse lines of research support dyadic morality. First, perceptions of mind are linked to (...) moral judgments: dimensions of mind perception (agency and experience) map onto moral types (agents and patients), and deficits of mind perception correspond to difficulties with moral judgment. Second, not only are moral judgments sensitive to perceived agency and experience, but all moral transgressions are fundamentally understood as agency plus experienced suffering—that is, interpersonal harm—even ostensibly harmless acts such as purity violations. Third, dyadic morality uniquely accounts for the phenomena of dyadic completion (seeing agents in response to patients, and vice versa), and moral typecasting (characterizing others as either moral agents or moral patients). Discussion also explores how mind perception can unify morality across explanatory levels, how a dyadic template of morality may be developmentally acquired, and future directions. (shrink)
Practically every contemporary mainstream scientist presumes that all aspects of mind are generated by brain activity. We demonstrate the inadequacy of this picture by assembling evidence for a variety of empirical phenomena which it cannot explain. We further show that an alternative picture developed by F. W. H. Myers and William James successfully accommodates these phenomena, ratifies the common sense view of ourselves as causally effective conscious agents, and is fully compatible with contemporary physics and neuroscience.
There is an underlying assumption in the social sciences that consciousness and social life are ultimately classical physical/material phenomena. In this ground-breaking book, Alexander Wendt challenges this assumption by proposing that consciousness is, in fact, a macroscopic quantum mechanical phenomenon. In the first half of the book, Wendt justifies the insertion of quantum theory into social scientific debates, introduces social scientists to quantum theory and the philosophical controversy about its interpretation, and then defends the quantum consciousness hypothesis against the orthodox, (...) classical approach to the mind-body problem. In the second half, he develops the implications of this metaphysical perspective for the nature of language and the agent-structure problem in social ontology. Wendt's argument is a revolutionary development which raises fundamental questions about the nature of social life and the work of those who study it. (shrink)
Where does the mind begin and end? Most philosophers and cognitive scientists take the view that the mind is bounded by the skull or skin of the individual. Robert Wilson, in this provocative and challenging 2004 book, provides the foundations for the view that the mind extends beyond the boundary of the individual. The approach adopted offers a unique blend of traditional philosophical analysis, cognitive science, and the history of psychology and the human sciences. A forthcoming companion (...) volume Genes and the Agents of Life will explore the theme in the biological sciences. Written with verve and clarity, this ambitious book will appeal to a broad swathe of professionals and students in philosophy, psychology, cognitive science, and the history of the behavioural and human sciences. (shrink)
John McDowell and Hubert L. Dreyfus are philosophers of world renown, whose work has decisively shaped the fields of analytic philosophy and phenomenology respectively. Mind, Reason, and Being-in-the-World: The McDowell-Dreyfus Debate opens with their debate over one of the most important and controversial subjects of philosophy: is human experience pervaded by conceptual rationality, or does experience mark the limits of reason? Is all intelligibility rational, or is there a form of intelligibility at work in our skilful bodily rapport with (...) the world that eludes our intellectual capacities? McDowell and Dreyfus provide a fascinating insight into some fundamental differences between analytic philosophy and phenomenology, as well as areas where they may have something in common. Fifteen specially commissioned chapters by distinguished international contributors enrich the debate inaugurated by McDowell and Dreyfus, taking it in a number of different and important directions. Fundamental philosophical problems discussed include: the embodied mind, subjectivity and self-consciousness, intentionality, rationality, practical skills, human agency, and the history of philosophy from Kant to Hegel to Heidegger to Merleau-Ponty. With the addition of these outstanding contributions, Mind, Reason, and Being-in-the-World is essential reading for students and scholars of analytic philosophy and phenomenology. (shrink)
This volume is a collective exploration of major themes in the work of Crispin Wright, one of today's leading philosophers. These newly commissioned papers are divided into four sections, preceded by a substantial Introduction, which places them in the context of the development of Wright's ideas. The distinguished contributors address issues such as the rule-following problem, knowledge of our meanings and minds, truth, realism, anti-realism and relativism, as well as the nature of perceptual justification, the cogency of arguments such as (...) G. E. Moore's celebrated proof of an external world, and skepticism about the material world. Some papers explore the relationship of Wright's ideas with those of Ludwig Wittgenstein, whose influence has always been a prominent aspect of Wright's philosophy. The essays collectively testify to the enormous interest and relevance of Wright's seminal contributions for present-day debates in areas as diverse as the philosophy of language and mind, metaphysics, and epistemology, and significantly advance research in these areas. The volume also contains Wright's substantial responses to his critics, which offer the most up-to-date versions of his ideas and a vigorous defense of his philosophy. (shrink)
Mind and Supermind offers an alternative perspective on the nature of belief and the structure of the human mind. Keith Frankish argues that the folk-psychological term 'belief' refers to two distinct types of mental state, which have different properties and support different kinds of mental explanation. Building on this claim, he develops a picture of the human mind as a two-level structure, consisting of a basic mind and a supermind, and shows how the resulting account sheds (...) light on a number of puzzling phenomena and helps to vindicate folk psychology. Topics discussed include the function of conscious thought, the cognitive role of natural language, the relation between partial and flat-out belief, the possibility of active belief formation, and the nature of akrasia, self-deception and first-person authority. This book will be valuable for philosophers, psychologists and cognitive scientists. (shrink)
Much recent work on empathy in philosophy of mind and cognitive science has been guided by the assumption that minds are composed of intracranial phenomena, perceptually inaccessible and thus unobservable to everyone but their owners. I challenge this claim. I defend the view that at least some mental states and processes—or at least some parts of some mental states and processes—are at times visible, capable of being directly perceived by others. I further argue that, despite its initial implausibility, this (...) view receives robust support from several strands of empirical research. (shrink)
The mind-body problem arises because of our status as double agents apparently en rapport both with the mental and with the physical. We think, desire, decide, plan, suffer passions, fall into moods, are subject to sensory experiences, ostensibly perceive, intend, reason, make believe, and so on. We also move, have a certain geographical position, a certain height and weight, and we are sometimes hit or cut or burned. In other words, human beings have both minds and bodies. What is (...) the relation between these? Religion often tells us that we are really embodied souls released at death from our bodily prisons. Could this be right? (shrink)
The identity theory of mind holds that states and processes of the mind are identical to states and processes of the brain. Strictly speaking, it need not hold that the mind is identical to the brain. Idiomatically we do use ‘She has a good mind’ and ‘She has a good brain’ interchangeably but we would hardly say ‘Her mind weighs fifty ounces’. Here I take identifying mind and brain as being a matter of identifying (...) processes and perhaps states of the mind and brain. Consider an experience of pain, or of seeing something, or of having a mental image. The identity theory of mind is to the effect that these experiences just are brain processes, not merely correlated with brain processes. (shrink)
Dominant views of personal identity in philosophy take some kind of psychological continuity or connectedness over time to be criterial for the identity of a person over time. Such views assign psychological states, particularly those necessary for narrative memory of some kind, special importance in thinking about the nature of persons. The extended mind thesis, which has generated much recent discussion in the philosophy of mind and cognitive science, holds that a person’s psychological states can physically extend beyond (...) that person’s body. Since “person” is a term of both metaphysical and moral significance, and discussions of both extended minds and personal identity have often focused on memory, this article explores the relevance of extended cognition for the identity of persons with special attention to neuroethics and memory. (shrink)
Most people think of themselves as pretty good at understanding others’ beliefs, desires, emotions, and intentions. Accurate mindreading is an impressive cognitive feat, and for this reason the philosophical literature on mindreading has focused exclusively on explaining such successes. However, as it turns out, we regularly make mindreading mistakes. Understanding when and how mind misreading occurs is crucial for a complete account of mindreading. In this paper, I examine the conditions under which mind misreading occurs. I argue that (...) these patterns of mind misreading shed light on the limits of mindreading, reveal new perspectives on how mindreading works, and have implications for social epistemology. (shrink)
Scholars concerned with the phenomenon of mind have searched through history for a principled yet non-reductionist approach to the study of knowledge, communication, and behavior. Pragmatics has been a recurrent theme in Western epistemology, tracing itself back from pre-Socratic dialectics and Aristotle's bio- functionalism, all the way to Wittgenstein's content-dependent semantics. This book's treatment of pragmatics as an analytic method focuses on the central role of context in determining the perception, organization, and communication of experience. As a bioadaptive strategy, (...) pragmatics straddles the middle ground between absolute categories and the non-discrete gradation of experience, reflecting closely the organism's own evolutionary compromises. In parallel, pragmatic reasoning can be shown to play a pivotal role in the process of empirical science, through the selection of relevant facts, the abduction of likely hypotheses, and the construction of non-trivial explanations. In this volume, Professor Givon offers pragmatics as both an analytic method and a strategic intellectual framework. He points out its relevance to our understanding of traditional problems in philosophy, anthropology, linguistics, cognitive psychology, neuro-biology, and evolution. Finally, the application of pragmatics to the study of the mind and behavior constitutes an implicit challenge to the current tenets of artificial intelligence. (shrink)
Although mind-wandering occupies up to half of our waking thoughts, it is seldom discussed in philosophy. My paper brings these neglected thoughts into focus. I propose that mind-wandering is unguided attention. Guidance in my sense concerns how attention is monitored and regulated as it unfolds over time. Roughly speaking, someone’s attention is guided if she would feel pulled back, were she distracted from her current focus. Because our wandering thoughts drift unchecked from topic to topic, they are unguided. (...) One motivation for my theory is what I call the “Puzzle of the Purposeful Wanderer”. On the one hand, mind-wandering seems essentially purposeless; almost by definition, it contrasts with goal-directed cognition. On the other hand, empirical evidence suggests that our minds frequently wander to our goals. My solution to the puzzle is this: mind-wandering is purposeless in one way—it is unguided—but purposeful in another—it is frequently caused, and thus motivated, by our goals. Another motivation for my theory is to distinguish mind-wandering from two antithetical forms of cognition: absorption and rumination. Surprisingly, previous theories cannot capture these distinctions. I can: on my view, absorption and rumination are guided, whereas mind-wandering is not. My paper has four parts. Section 1 spells out the puzzle. Sections 2 and 3 explicate two extant views of mind-wandering—the first held by most cognitive scientists, the second by Thomas Metzinger. Section 4 uses the limitations of these theories to motivate my own: mind-wandering is unguided attention. (shrink)
I endorse a 12-word metaphysics.  Stoff ist Kraft ≈ being is energy.  Wesen ist Werden ≈ being is becoming.  Sein ist Sosein ≈ being is qualit[ativit]y.  Ansichsein ist Fürsichsein ≈ being is mind. – are plausible metaphysical principles and unprejudiced consideration of what we know about concrete reality obliges us to favor , i.e. panpsychism or panexperientialism, above all other positive substantive proposals. For [i] panpsychism is the most ontologically parsimonious view, given that the existence (...) of conscious experience is certain and that panpsychism doesn’t posit the existence of any kind of stuff other than conscious experience. [ii] A question also arises about why metaphysicians have posited the existence of something for which there is zero evidence: non-experiential concrete reality. The question is the more pressing because of the silence of physics: physics with its numbers and equations is perfectly silent on the question of the intrinsic non-structural nature of reality. (shrink)
The contributors to this volume examine recent controversies about the importance of common sense psychology for our understanding of the human mind. Common sense provides a familiar and friendly psychological scheme by which to talk about the mind. Its categories tend to portray the mind as quite different from the rest of nature, and thus irreducible to physical matters and its laws. In this volume a variety of positions on common sense psychology from critical to supportive, from (...) exegetical to speculative, are represented. Among the questions posed are: Is common sense psychology an empirical theory, a body of analytic knowledge, a practice or a strategy? If it is a legitimate enterprise can it be naturalized or not? If it is not legitimate can it be eliminated? Is its fate tied to our understanding of consciousness? Should we approach its concepts and generalizations from the standpoint of conceptual analysis or from the philosophy of science? (shrink)
The explosion of interest in consciousness among scientists in recent decades has led to a revival of interest in the work of Whitehead. This has been associated with the challenge of biophysics to molecular biology in efforts to understand the nature of life. Some claim that it is only through quantum field theory that consciousness will be made intelligible. Most, although not all work in this area, focusses on the brain and how it could give rise to consciousness. In this (...) paper, I will support this challenge, but I will suggest that the focus of work in this area reflects the failure to fully overcome the assumptions of Cartesian thought, associated above all with a defective understanding of consciousness as a ‘thinking substance’. Firstly, as Bergson, Whitehead and Merleau-Ponty argued, consciousness is embodied. Secondly, as Jacob von Uexküll argued, consciousness is only comprehensible in relation to the organism’s world defined as such by the organism. Thirdly, in the case of humans, this is a ‘with-world’, a world shared with others. The consequent social nature of human consciousness is better captured by the German word for mind: Geist, which also translates as ‘Spirit’. And as Hegel argued, along with Subjective Spirit, there is also Objective Spirit, the realm of institutions, and Absolute Spirit, the realm of culture, with Subjective, Objective and Absolute Spirit being conditions, and even components, of each other. My argument is that this broader notion of mind as Spirit should be embraced, but without abandoning the work in biophysics. What is required is a further expansion of the notion of mind and Spirit as humanity comes to appreciate that it is part of nature and that it is through the development of institutions and culture that nature, through human subjects, is becoming conscious of itself and its significance. The development of process philosophy inspired by Whitehead, associated with the development of the concepts of field and ecology, should be seen as a development of the semiosphere and the advance of the Spirit of Gaia, essential for the creation of a global civilization able to augment the life of the current regime of the global ecosystem of which we are part. It is to orient humanity to create an ecologically sustainable civilization; an ecological civilization. (shrink)