This Introduction to a Journal of Consciousness Studies Special Issue on Monist Alternatives to Physicalism summarises some of the basic problems of Physicalism and common fallacies in arguments for its defence that are found in the philosophical and scientific literature. It then introduces six monist alternatives: 1) a form of emergent panpsychism developed by William Seager; 2) a novel introduction to the process philosophy of A.N. Whitehead by Anderson Weekes; 3) a review of current developments in Russellian Monism by Torin (...) Alter and Yujin Nagasawa; 4) an analysis of dual-aspect monism and its relation to quantum mechanics originally proposed developed by Pauli and Jung and given a modern interpretation by Harald Atmanspacher; 5) a form of processing monism that might help to resolve ontological differences in Indian philosophy and psychology between dualist Samkya Yoga and nondualist Advaita Vedanta by K. Ramakrisna Rao; and 6) an account of Reflexive Monism, which, viewed as a global system, can incorporate many of the seemingly opposed “isms” that currently populate Consciousness Studies by Max Velmans. Whatever the fundamental nature of Nature might be, it must have the power to give rise to its observable manifestations. Consequently, all the papers in this issue are concerned to give a “natural” account of the relationships among consciousness, mind, and the material world that is entirely consistent with the findings of science, and they all accept that for a unified understanding, mind, consciousness and the material world must have a common base. The aim of the Special Issue is to contribute to a deeper understanding of that base, and to stimulate novel thinking about its nature. (shrink)
This is the second of four online Companions to Velmans, M. (ed.) (2018) Consciousness (Critical Concepts in Psychology), a 4-volume collection of Major Works on Consciousness commissioned by Routledge, London. -/- The Companion to Volume 2 Part 1 focuses on the detailed relationship of phenomenal consciousness to mental processing described either functionally (as human information processing) or in terms of neural activity, in the ways typically explored by cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience. Beginning with reviews of functional differences between (...) unconscious, preconscious and conscious processing and the different senses in which mental processing can be said to be “conscious”, the readings turn to seminal work on blindsight and related phenomena, experimental evidence of perception without awareness, ways to combine “subjective” and “objective” measures of awareness, evidence for distinct neural pathways governing visual awareness and visual control of motor acts, and the complex ways in which consciousness of action relates to both voluntary and involuntary acts. The readings then focus on the intimate links between attention and consciousness, starting with the writings of William James and surveying the extensive work on this subject over the last 60 years that explores the relationships between and attended and non-attended processing, preconscious and conscious processing, and attention, primary (working, short-term) memory and consciousness. The readings go on to survey the evidence that attention contributes to the “neural binding” required for an integrated conscious experience and evidence that attention (in humans) is dissociable from consciousness, necessary for consciousness, but not sufficient for consciousness. The readings then turn to research on “inattentional blindness”, and conclude with a review of Baars’ global workspace theory, which integrates many theories and findings in this area into a coherent, global model. The Companion then summarises seminal readings on learning, memory and consciousness; the extensive research on mental imagery, long thought to epitomize private, subjective conscious experience—and consequently ruled out of science by reductive, materialist philosophies of mind; the complex relations of consciousness to sleep and dreaming; the development of consciousness in human infants; and the debates surrounding, and extensive evidence for consciousness in non-human animals, with attendant consequences for their humane treatment. -/- As with the other Companions to these Volumes there are many links to background resources (marked in pink) and to the selected readings themselves (marked in blue). (shrink)
This is the fourth of four online Companions to Velmans, M. (ed.) (2018) Consciousness (Critical Concepts in Psychology), a 4-volume collection of Major Works on Consciousness commissioned by Routledge, London. -/- The Companion (and Volume) begins with a review of mental influences on states of the body and brain (psychogenesis), which are often thought of as theoretically problematic for conventional materialist theories of mind. The evidence is nevertheless extensive, for example in psychosomatic illnesses and studies of the physiological consequences (...) of meditation, imagery, biofeedback and hypnosis. Such effects are also central to developments in psychoneuroimmunology and studies of placebos, dealing not only with how to control for such effects in clinical trials, but with how such effects operate, and how to harness them for the benefit of patients. The Companion then surveys altered states of consciousness, including the conditions for their emergence, their adaptive as well as maladaptive potential, and the influences of culture on how these are understood. The analysis deepens with reviews of the major ways in which consciousness can be usefully transformed, starting with the burgeoning literature on the nature and effects of meditation practices, including their effects on neural dynamics and the varied ways in which they have, in recent years, been incorporated into a range of psychological therapies, focusing particularly on mindfulness and its potential consequences for psychological health. The survey then turns to mystical experiences, which, of all the positive altered states of consciousness, are perhaps the most extraordinary and transformative. Reported over millennia and recognized by William James to combine ineffability with a noetic quality, their generation, effects and interpretation have, once more, become the subject of research. In this connection, we also review the resurgent interest in the use of drugs in the transformation of consciousness focusing particularly on recent research on the clinical and neurophysiological effects of major psychedelics such as psilocybin and LSD. It will be apparent that the four Volumes of this Collection cover a vast range of phenomena that cannot comfortably be accommodated into a materialist, reductionist worldview, and so this Companion (and the entire collection) concludes with a diverse sample of non-reductive, integrative theories that offer unifying ways of understanding consciousness, drawing on information theory, neuropsychology, psychodynamics, physics, psychology, parapsychology, and philosophy. -/- As with the other Companions to these Volumes there are many links to background resources (marked in pink) and to the selected readings themselves (marked in blue). -/- . (shrink)
This is the third of four online Companions to Velmans, M. (ed.) (2018) Consciousness (Critical Concepts in Psychology), a 4-volume collection of Major Works on Consciousness commissioned by Routledge, London. -/- The Companion to Volume 3 introduces major phases and findings in the search for the neural correlates of consciousness (NCC) starting with the time it takes for these to form and the wider research program that might lead to their discovery. This includes the search for mechanisms responsible for (...) “neural binding”—how widely dispersed neural activities support integrated conscious experiences, and the search for neural markers of consciousness that can serve to distinguish conscious from preconscious and unconscious activities in the brain. We then turn to global disorders of consciousness that indirectly reveal the conditions that support consciousness by establishing what abolishes it or impairs it, and conclude this section with reviews of the major challenges in the search for NCCs that still remain. This survey then continues with research on the divided brain with cerebral commissurotomy patients, which proved to be very useful in determining the respective functions of the left and right halves of the brain. It also raised philosophical questions. Could consciousness itself be divided by this operation? And, if so, would such patients have a distinct left-brain and right-brain consciousness? Philosophical issues also combine with methodological and experimental developments in the following sections on the reintroduction of first-person methods and how to combine these with complementary, third-person methods in neurophenomenology and experiential neuroscience—two well-developed research programs for both investigating consciousness and understanding its functions. This Companion (and associated Volume) then concludes with a survey of research on free will, covering both the major findings arising from neuropsychological research and a way to understand these that is consistent with a natural understanding of volition, ethics, and legal responsibility. -/- As with the other Companions to these Volumes there are many links to background resources (marked in pink) and to the selected readings themselves (marked in blue). -/- . (shrink)
This is the first of four online Companions to Velmans, M. (ed.) (2018) Consciousness (Critical Concepts in Psychology), a 4-volume collection of Major Works on Consciousness commissioned by Routledge, London. Each of the Companions presents a pre-publication version of the introduction to one of the Volumes and, for Volume 1, it also sets the stage for the entire, printed collection. As the collection forms part of a Critical Concepts in Psychology series, this selection of major works focuses mainly on (...) works that have a direct psychological relevance. From the mid 19th Century onwards, psychology began to separate itself from philosophy, and the development of psychological thought about consciousness links intimately to the development of psychology itself. In order to trace this development, the four volumes of this collection follow a rough, historical sequence. Volume 1 deals with The Origins of Psychology and the Study of Consciousness. Volumes 2 and 3 deal with contemporary Cognitive and Neuropsychological Approaches to the Study of Consciousness. And Volume 4 focuses mainly on New Directions: Psychogenesis, Transformations of Consciousness and Non-reductive, Integrative Theories, which deal with issues likely to expand current, mainstream thought in potentially novel, and, sometimes, challenging directions. -/- The printed, 4-Volume collection presents 89 major readings (or salient extracts from major readings) drawn from the entire field of Consciousness Studies, along with these introductions and an extensive index. It also introduces 5 additional readings that were selected for inclusion, but could not be reprinted for the reason that reprint permissions were prohibitively expensive. Although these online Companions cannot substitute for the 2000 page hard copy, they do provide a wealth of additional resources in the form of online links to supplementary readings (marked in pink) and to the readings themselves (marked in blue). In many cases the online sources are freely available or available through institutional subscriptions. Links are also provided for some of the readings that require access to complex colour plates, thereby making the four Companions complementary to the collection itself. -/- This Companion to Volume 1 focuses on the selection criteria for the collection, the problems presented by consciousness and how to organize these into groups, the ancient history of thought about consciousness, mind and soul, the emergence of psychology as the empirical study of consciousness and mind, the emergence of behaviorism, cognitive psychology and the re-emergence of the study of mind, initial ideas about the role of consciousness in human information processing, the strengths of functionalist accounts of mind, the weaknesses of functionalist accounts of consciousness, competing psychological theories about the nature and function of consciousness, interdisciplinary influences, and the formation of Consciousness Studies. (shrink)
In everyday life we take it for granted that we have conscious control of some of our actions and that the part of us that exercises control is the conscious mind. Psychosomatic medicine also assumes that the conscious mind can affect body states, and this is supported by evidence that the use of imagery, hypnosis, biofeedback and other 'mental interventions' can be therapeutic in a variety of medical conditions. However, there is no accepted theory of mind/body interaction and this has (...) had a detrimental effect on the acceptance of mental causation in science, philosophy and in many areas of clinical practice. Biomedical accounts typically translate the effects of mind into the effects of brain functioning, for example, explaining mind/body interactions in terms of the interconnections and reciprocal control of cortical, neuroendocrine, autonomic and immune systems. While such accounts are instructive, they are implicitly reductionist, and beg the question of how conscious experiences could have bodily effects. On the other hand, non-reductionist accounts have to cope with three problems: (1) The physical world appears causally closed, which would seem to leave no room for conscious intervention. (2) One is not conscious of one's own brain/body processing, so how could there be conscious control of such processing? (3) Conscious experiences appear to come too late to causally affect the processes to which they most obviously relate. This paper suggests a way of understanding mental causation that resolves these problems. It also suggests that 'conscious mental control' needs to be partly understood in terms of the voluntary operations of the preconscious mind, and that this allows an account of biological determinism that is compatible with experienced free will. (shrink)
n April, 2014 I organized an International Workshop on East-West Approaches to the Nature of Mind, Consciousness and Self, in the beautiful grounds of Dartington Hall, in Devon, England to explore the edges of current understanding of ordinary and extra-ordinary conscious experience. Although Consciousness Studies is now a flourishing area of investigation, ordinary and extra-ordinary human experiences do not fit comfortably into the prevailing materialist-reductionist paradigm, suggesting the need to explore non-reductionist approaches in an open, but nevertheless rigorous way. Consciousness (...) has, of course, also been studied in the East over the millennia, but there are major cultural differences in the ways mind, consciousness and self are conceptualized and investigated in the East and in the West, making it difficult to integrate Eastern with Western ways of thought. This provided the purpose for the workshop—to gather together an invited selection of some of the best current thinkers and researchers in this cross-disciplinary area to present their work, along with a group of discussants that included equally senior, mid-career and more junior researchers from different traditions (both Eastern and Western), to explore the issues in depth, with the aim of moving closer to a more integrated, inclusive worldview. The progression of the workshop over four days broadly followed four themes: 1) how to obtain knowledge additional to that provided by the usual third-person methods of science through subjective ways of knowing and by focusing close attention on the details of ordinary experience 2) the range and significance of extraordinary experiences 3) the potentially transformative effects on the knower of engaging in such explorations, and 4) some integrative ways of thinking about what is revealed by such investigations. (shrink)
Nature Network Groups hosted an invited workshop on 'Theories of Consciousness' during the second semester of 2009. There were presentations by each of 15 authors active in the field, followed by debate with other presenters and invitees. A week was allocated to each of the theories proposed; general discussion threads were also opened from time to time, as seemed appropriate. We offer here an account of the principal outcomes. It can be regarded as a contemporary, 'state of the art' snapshot (...) of thinking in this field. (shrink)
κ-M-proper forcing, introduced in [K00] when κ = ω1, is a very powerful new technique for generic stepping up, subsuming all previous generic steppings up using auxiliary functions. A general framework for using κ-M-proper forcing is set out, and a couple of examples of such forcings, adding κ−-thin-very tall scattered spaces and long chains in P(κ) modulo <κ−, are given. These objects are not currently obtainable by the previously known techniques.
Richard M Weaver, a thinker and writer celebrated for his unsparing diagnoses and realistic remedies for the ills of our age, is known largely through a few of his works that remain in print. This new collection of Weaver's shorter writings, assembled by Ted J Smith III, Weaver's leading biographer, presents many long-out-of-print and never-before-published works that give new range and depth to Weaver's sweeping thought. Included are eleven previously unpublished essays and speeches that were left in near-final form at (...) the time of Weaver's death in 1963. In all, there are some one hundred and twenty-six essays, speeches, book reviews, and editorials. (shrink)
My overall aim here is to intersect two issues central to Max Velmans' wide-ranging paper. The first concerns one of the most vexing problems in consciousness research — how best to approach the terms 'mental' and 'physical'. The second looks at the phenomenology of volition, and the degree to which information presumably necessary for making voluntary conscious decisions is, or is not, present in consciousness. Velmans offers three general reasons to motivate his position: the physical world is 'causally (...) closed' to the influence of consciousness; consciousness does not contain the information necessary for making volitional decisions; conscious feelings of volition occur before the acts they supposedly cause. It seems to me that none of this holds up well under scrutiny. I will concentrate on the first two reasons, since I think they involve more basic and widespread aspects of consciousness research. (shrink)
Theories of causation may imply that your birth causes your death, which seems odd in the way that it is not odd to say that your birth precedes your death. Theories of knowledge may imply that the object of knowledge is the same as the object of belief, although we know but do not believe facts and we can know a proposition without knowing whether it is true.
(Publisher's Description) In the World Library of Psychologists series, international experts themselves present career-long collections of what they judge to be their finest pieces - extracts from books, key articles, salient research findings, and their major practical theoretical contributions. In this volume Max Velmans reflects on his long-spanning and varied career, considers the highs and lows in a brand new introduction and offers reactions to those who have responded to his published work over the years. This book offers a (...) unique and compelling collection of the best publications in consciousness studies from one of the few psychologists to treat the topic systematically and seriously. Velmans’ approach is multi-faceted and represents a convergence of numerous fields of study – culminating in fascinating insights that are of interest to philosopher, psychologist and neuroscientist alike. With continuing contemporary relevance, and significant historical impact, this collection of works is an essential resource for all those engaged or interested in the field of consciousness studies and the philosophy of the mind. (shrink)
This paper examines the complexity and fluidity of maternal identity through an examination of narratives about "real motherhood" found in children's literature. Focusing on the multiplicity of mothers in adoption, I question standard views of maternity in which gestational, genetic and social mothering all coincide in a single person. The shortcomings of traditional notions of motherhood are overcome by developing a fluid and inclusive conception of maternal reality as authored by a child's own perceptions.
Logic has been a—disputed—ingredient in the emergence and development of the now very large field known as knowledge representation and reasoning. In this book (in progress), I select some central topics in this highly fruitful, albeit controversial, association (e.g., non-monotonic reasoning, implicit belief, logical omniscience, closed world assumption), identifying their sources and analyzing/explaining their elaboration in highly influential published work.
The author describes new interpretations of the problem of theology’s influence on John Locke’ philosophical doctrine. The main subject of the analysis is the latest publications by Victor Nuovo, the most famous contemporary researcher of mentioned problem.