In the first post World War II identity theories (e.g., Place 1956, Smart 1962), mind brain identities were held to be contingent. However, in work beginning in the late 1960's, Saul Kripke (1971, 1980) convinced the philosophical community that true identity statements involving names and natural kind terms are necessarily true and furthermore, that many such necessary identities can only be known a posteriori. Kripke also offered an explanation of the a posteriori nature of ordinary theoretical identities such as that (...) water = H2O. We identify the kinds and substances involved in theoretical identities by certain of their contingent properties. What we discover when we discover a theoretical identity is the underlying nature of the kind that we identify by those contingent properties. Now, of course, it was being a posteriori, not being contingent, that mattered to the identity theorists anyway, so the necessity of identity is not, in itself, damaging to mind brain identity theories. However, Kripke also argued persuasively that the alleged mind brain identities could not be treated in the same way as ordinary theoretical identities. We "identify" pain by feeling it, and surely how it feels is an essential property of pain, not a contingent property. Thus, a mind body identity theory must provide a different explanation of why its identities are a posteriori. A new wave of materialists has appeared on the scene with a new strategy for explaining  the a posteriori nature of its alleged identities. The strategy is to locate the explanation for the a posteriori nature of mind body identities, not on the side of the world, but on the side of the mind -in different ways of thinking about or imagining, or in different concepts. Thus, on this new view, there is only one property—this brain process type, which is identical with this pain.. (shrink)
David Marr provided a useful framework for theorizing about cognition within classical, AI-style cognitive science, in terms of three levels of description: the levels of (i) cognitive function, (ii) algorithm and (iii) physical implementation. We generalize this framework: (i) cognitive state transitions, (ii) mathematical/functional design and (iii) physical implementation or realization. Specifying the middle, design level to be the theory of dynamical systems yields a nonclassical, alternative framework that suits (but is not committed to) connectionism. We consider how a brain's (...) (or a network's) being a dynamical system might be the key both to its realizing various essential features of cognition — productivity, systematicity, structure-sensitive processing, syntax — and also to a non-classical solution of (frame-type) problems plaguing classical cognitive science. (shrink)
For the last 20 years or so, philosophers of mind have been using the term ‘qualia’, which is frequently glossed as standing for the “what-it-is-like” of experience. The examples of what-it-is-like that are typically given are feelings of pain or itches, and color and sound sensations. This suggests an identification of the experiential what-it-islike with such states. More recently, philosophers have begun speaking of the “phenomenology“ of experience, which they have also glossed as “what-it-is-like”. Many say, for example, that any (...) acceptable materialism—or any acceptable account of the relation of mind and body—must “respect the phenomenology.”1 Typically, no examples beyond those mentioned in the first paragraph are offered. This suggests that the picture of the phenomenology that ”must be respected” is the what-it-is-like of bodily sensations, of sensations that occur in perception, and perhaps of certain analogous nonperceptual states, such as imaginings and image-like rememberings. According to the suggested picture, all there is to phenomenology is such states; intentional mental states—as such— have no phenomenology; there is nothing that it is like to undergo them. Although beliefs and desires are intentionally directed—i.e., they have aboutness—these mental states allegedly are not inherently phenomenal. On this view, there is nothing that it is like to be.. (shrink)
In On the Content and Object of Presentations, Kasimir Twardowski presents an interesting line of thought concerning the content of a presentation and its relation to the object of that presentation. This way of thinking about content is valuable for understanding phenomenal intentionality, and it should also be important for the project of “naturalizing” the mental (or at least for discovering the neural correlates of the phenomenal). According to this view, content is that by virtue of which a presentation of (...) an object presents a certain object and no other. In the cases in which an object is presented as simple, there is nothing more that can be said about the relation of content and object. It is sui generis: the relation of content to an object by virtue of which it presents that object. Further, the content of a presentation is never itself directly presented. The content can only be gotten at indirectly, as the content by which such and such object is presented. Where the presented object is complex—as is of course the normal case—a lot that is useful can be said about the structure of the content. In this paper, I lay out Twardowski's theory of the content of presentations. Since the business of content is to present its object, I briefly present the basics of Twardowski's mereology of objects. (shrink)
David Marr provided an influential account of levels of description in classical cognitive science. In this paper we contrast Marr'ent with some alternatives that are suggested by the recent emergence of connectionism. Marr's account is interesting and important both because of the levels of description it distinguishes, and because of the way his presentation reflects some of the most basic, foundational, assumptions of classical AI-style cognitive science. Thus, by focusing on levels of description, one can sharpen foundational differences between classicism (...) and potential non-classical conceptions of mentality that might emerge under the rubric of connectionism. (shrink)
Human cognition is rich, varied, and complex. In this Chapter we argue that because of the richness of human cognition (and human mental life generally), there must be a syntax of cognitive states, but because of this very richness, cognitive processes cannot be describable by exceptionless rules. The argument for syntax, in Section 1, has to do with being able to get around in any number of possible environments in a complex world. Since nature did not know where in the (...) world humans would find themselves—nor within pretty broad limits what the world would be like —nature had to provide them with a means of “representing” a great deal of information about any of indefinitely many locations. We see no way that this could be done except by way of syntax— that is, by a systematic way of producing new, appropriate representations as needed. We discuss what being systematic must amount to, and what, in consequence, syntax should mean. We hold that syntax does not require a part/whole relationship. The argument for the claim that human cognitive processes cannot be described by exceptionless rules, in Section 2, appeals to the fact that there is no limit to the factors one might.. (shrink)
Common names, for Mill, have both connotation and denotation. Thus ‘horse’ connotes certain properties, and the name ‘horse’ denotes the things that have those properties. By contrast, proper names have no connotations; they do not denote in virtue of the possession of certain properties by their denotations, but so to speak, directly. Thus Socrates received his name by being dubbed ‘Socrates’; and he might just as well have been given any other name. This contrast is misleading. After all, we might (...) have named horses by another name, too; e.g., ‘cow’ or ‘Pferd’. However, once the convention by which they are called ‘horses’ is established, it is not correct to call them ‘cows’. A horse is not a cow. Just so Socrates could have been named ‘Plato’ or ‘Moses’, but once he has been named ‘Socrates’, it is just as wrong to call him ‘Plato’ as it is to call a horse a ‘cow’. What is correctly called a ‘horse’ is so called in virtue of its possession of certain properties, just as what is called ‘Socrates’ is so called in virtue of his possession of the requisite properties. From this point of view, proper names are words like any others. (Leonard Linsky, Oblique Contexts, University of Chicago Press 1983, pp. 16f.). (shrink)
What van Gelder calls the dynamical hypothesis is only a special case of what we here dub the general dynamical hypothesis. His terminology makes it easy to overlook important alternative dynamical approaches in cognitive science. Connectionist models typically conform to the general dynamical hypothesis, but not to van Gelder's.