In this interview, Cynthia Hammond sits down with Marc Lafrance in order to discuss the 30-year sketching practice that led to her exhibition, Drawings for a Thicker Skin, in 2012. In this practice, Hammond made small, quick drawings of the clothes she would need for trips or key professional events. As she explains, the drawings were not just essential to knowing what to pack; they were essential to being able to pack. While she never conceived of the practice as (...) art, when invited to exhibit the drawings she found a way to relate this idiosyncratic and private practice to a larger set of ontological concerns. Clothing as a second skin is the key idea here, as Hammond and Lafrance explore what it means to navigate identity, idealized self-image, professional ‘passing’ and the skin ego. (shrink)
I argue that Augustine's concept of time implies that the continuity of temporal experience is not adequately explainable in physical terms and that persons (or at least a core component of persons) are enduring substances rather than perduring wholes composed of suitably related physical parts. In the latter part of the essay, I suggest that an enduring account of persons is in some important respects explanatorily better than some contemporary varieties of the perduring account of persons.
Counterfactuals all the way down? Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9437-9 Authors Jim Woodward, History and Philosophy of Science, 1017 Cathedral of Learning, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA Barry Loewer, Department of Philosophy, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA John W. Carroll, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-8103, USA Marc Lange, Department of Philosophy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, CB#3125—Caldwell Hall, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3125, USA Journal Metascience (...) Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796 Journal Volume Volume 20 Journal Issue Volume 20, Number 1. (shrink)
I explicate the Churchland's dualistic interaction and neural dependence objections to Cartesian dualism and argue that Aquinas’s conception of Aristotelian hylomorphism provides a way out of those objections. -/- .
After providing a critique of Andreas Engel's neural mechanistic approach to object feature binding (OFB), I develop a Kantian approach to OFB that bears affinity with recent findings in cognitive psychology. I also address the diachronic object unity (DOU) problem and discuss the shortcomings of a purely neural mechanistic approach to this problem. Finally, I motivate a Kantian approach to DOU which suggests that DOU requires the persisting character of the cognizing subject. If plausible, the cognizing subject could make an (...) explanatory contribution to our theory of unified consciousness and thus could not be eliminated on parsimonious grounds alone. (shrink)
I propose an Aristotelian approach to agent causation that is consistent with the hypothesis of strong emergence. This approach motivates a wider ontology than materialism by maintaining (1) that the agent is generated by the brain without being reducible to it on grounds of the unity of experience and (2) that the agent possesses (formal) causal power to affect (i.e., mold, sculpt, or organize) the brain on grounds of agent-directed neuroplasticity. After providing recent empirical evidence for the strong emergence of (...) the agent, I then articulate and analyze a dominant objection to agent causation discussed in neuroscience, which is based upon the observation of the readiness potential (or RP) in the brain. In this context, the RP refers to unconscious neuronal events (in the supplementary motor area) that precede the formation of a (proximal) conscious intention to act. So it appears as if the train of neuronal events has left the depot before the agent can act. In response to this objection, I argue (a) that even if one were to grant that the RP precedes the formation of a conscious intention, it would not follow (on both logical and empirical grounds) that there is no conscious agent causation; and (b) that the objection disappears when one takes into account distal versus proximal intentions. (shrink)
Examining the literature on Aristotelian psychology can leave one with the impression that his theory of perception and emotion is credible primarily because it accords with contemporary functionalism, a physicalist theory that has achieved orthodoxy in contemporary philosophy of mind. In my view, squeezing Aristotle into a functionalist mold is a mistake, for functionalism entaiIs at least two theses that Aristotle would reject: (1) that material types make no essential difference to perception and emotion (and to mental states in general), (...) and (2) that mental states are reducible to functional states of matter (a reductionism of the token-specific sort). Against these functionalist theses, Aristotle would include within his analysis of human perception and emotion (and other psychological activities) the biological material and the characteristic operations associated with it. Although Aristotle would insist that this biological material makes an essential difference to conscious experience, conscious experience is not reducible to its biological basis. I defend the positions that Aristotle’s philosophy of perception and emotion is not compatible with contemporary functionalism and that conscious experience of perception and emotion is irreducible to its essential biological basis. (shrink)
In this paper we discuss the two-system framework, examine its strengths, point out a fundamental weakness concerning the unity of conscious experience, and then propose a new hypothesis that avoids that weakness and other related concerns. According to our strong emergence hypothesis, what emerges are not merely mental properties in specialized, distributed neural areas, but also a new, irreducibly singular entity that functions in a recurrent manner to integrate its mental properties and to rewire its brain. We argue that the (...) former function is suggested, in part, by the effects of anesthetics on sensory integration, and that the latter function is suggested by evidence garnered from the neuroscience of mindfulness, constraint-induced movement therapy for stroke, and neuroimaging data surrounding mental illness. We then discuss how our strong emergence hypothesis relates to the description and treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders. Finally, potential objections are addressed. (shrink)
I argue that recent empirical investigations reveal new problems and new evidence that should compel advocates of causal functionalism (of the sort defended by David Armstrong and David Lewis) to reconsider the feasibility of their account of mind.
I argue on the basis of recent findings in neuroscience that consciousness is not a brain process, and then explore some alternative, non-reductive options concerning the metaphysical relationship between consciousness and the brain, such as weak and strong accounts of the emergence of consciousness and the constitution view of consciousness. I propose an Aristotelian account of the strong emergence of consciousness. This account motivates a wider ontology than reductive physicalism and makes reference to formal causation as a way explaining the (...) causal power of consciousness. What is meant by formal causation, in thiscontext, is that consciousness has the causal power to organize or control neuronal activity. This notion of causation is elaborated and supported by recent findings in the neurosciences. An advantage of this empirically informed approach is that proponents of the irreducibility of consciousness no longer need to rely upon conceptually based arguments alone, but can build a case against reductive physicalism that has a significant empirical foundation. (shrink)
We pose a foundational problem for those who claim that subjects are ontologically irreducible, but causally reducible (weak emergence). This problem is neuroscience’s notorious binding problem, which concerns how distributed neural areas produce unified mental objects (such as perceptions) and the unified subject that experiences them. Synchrony, synapses and other mechanisms cannot explain this. We argue that this problem seriously threatens popular claims that mental causality is reducible to neural causality. Weak emergence additionally raises evolutionary worries about how we’ve survived (...) the perils of nature. Our emergent subject hypothesis (ESH) avoids these shortcomings. Here, a singular, unified subject acts back on the neurons it emerges from and binds sensory features into unified mental objects. Serving as the mind’s controlling center, this subject is ontologically and causally irreducible (strong emergence). ESH draws on recent experimental evidence, including the motivation of a possible correlate (or “seat”) of the subject, which enhances its testability. (shrink)
I argue (1) that Searle's reductive stance about mental causation is unwarranted on evolutionary, logical, and neuroscientific grounds; and (2) that his theory of weak emergence, called biological naturalism, fails to provide a satisfactory account of objectual unity and subject unity. Finally I propose a stronger variety of emergence called emergent subject dualism (ESD) to fill the gaps in Searle's account, and support ESD on grounds of recent evidence in neuroscience. Hence I show how it is possible, if not also (...) theoretically preferable, to go from Searle's biological naturalism to emergent subject dualism. (shrink)
We provide a critique of the usual functionalist, cognition-first reading of Aristotle’s theory of emotion and then offer an alternative understanding of Aristotle's theory of cognition and emotion that brings to bear certain biological considerations evidenced in his arguments on the integration of form and matter (hylomorphism) and the hierarchical organization of the biological world. This, of course, does not suggest that we are critical of all varieties of functionalism, but only those which fail to utilize and incorporate findings in (...) neuroscience. One way to help bridge the gap between mind and the physical world is through empirical findings. Based upon our new reading of Aristotle, we identify affinities with contemporary research in the cognitive neuroscience of emotion and developmental research on emotion. (shrink)
The essays in this special issue focus on connecting the relevant aspects of Lowe’s metaphysics to issues in philosophical theology. In this regard, the essays focus on Trinity, divine causal agency, atonement, embodied existence, physicalism vs. dualism, natural science, and theological claims.
Patricia Churchland's Touching a Nerve: The Self as Brain is her most recent wide-ranging argument for mind-to-brain reductionism. It's one of the leading anti-dualist works in neurophilosophy. It thus deserves careful attention by anti-reductionists. We survey the main arguments in this book for her thesis that the self is nothing but the brain. These arguments are based largely on the self's dependence upon neural activities as reflected in its various impairments, its unified experiences, and its powers of agency. We show (...) that dualism is quite compatible with this neural dependence. We argue that dualism can not only counter--but also turn the tables on--her arguments. Unlike most other critics, we focus not only on her hard problems but also on her easy problems in explaining consciousness. A new non-Cartesian substance dualism is presented that avoids existing dualist causal issues. It may thus avoid perennial physicalist and dualist problems. -/- . (shrink)
I argue that Van der Velde and I agree on two fundamental issues surrounding the vision-related binding problem and recent solutions that have been offered: (1) that tagging theories fail to account for object feature binding in visual consciousness and (2) that feedforward-feedback processes in the visual cortical hierarchy play a role in generating a feature-unified object of visual consciousness. Van der Velde develops and discusses an important objection to tagging theories that could help to strengthen my critique of neuronal (...) synchrony (and other tagging theories) and then argues that the cognitive subject makes no explanatory contribution to the unity of an object’s features in visual consciousness. These issues are discussed in turn. By contrast, Van Leeuwen takes a more critical approach to my target article. A two-fold response to Van Leeuwen is offered: first, the root of Van Leeuwen’s perplexity is uncovered and then some specific objections that Van Leeuwen poses to my critique of neuronal synchrony, as a purported solution of the object feature binding problem, are addressed. (shrink)
I examine several leading neuronal accounts of binding and conclude that, while those neuronal accounts might be necessary in some important senses (e.g., when it comes to error minimization), they fail to provide satisfying solutions to the hard problems of unified experience. I then present a new, testable hypothesis called emergent subject dualism to account for the unity of experience across modalities of the brain.
We refute three key claims against dualism: (1) the claim that dualism implies that we would not expect to observe such a radical causal dependence of our conscious lives on the physical world, which is what we do observe; (2) the claim that dualism implies mysteries beyond necessity, and hence that dualism is, theoretically speaking, less simple than physicalism; and (3) that dualism implies a metaphysical simple (e.g., a human soul) is incapable of undergoing a process of development. We conclude (...) by arguing that based on the underlying preferences of scientific thought, dualism is currently the most scientifically feasible account on offer with respect to subjective experience. (shrink)
A central issue in philosophy and neuroscience is the problem of unified visual consciousness. This problem has arisen because we now know that an object's stimulus features (e.g., its color, texture, shape, etc.) generate activity in separate areas of the visual cortex (Felleman & Van Essen, 1991). For example, recent evidence indicates that there are very few, if any, neural connections between specific visual areas, such as those that correlate with color and motion (Bartels & Zeki, 2006; Zeki, 2003). So (...) how do unified objects arise in visual consciousness? Some neuroscientists propose that neural synchrony is the mechanism that binds an object's features into a unity (e.g., see Crick, 1994; Crick & Koch, 1990; Engel, 2003; Roelfsema, 1998; Singer, 1996; von der Malsburg, 1996, 1999). I argue, on both empirical and philosophical grounds, that neural synchrony fails to explain the unity of visual consciousness. (shrink)
Recent findings in neuroscience strongly suggest that an object’s features (e.g., its color, texture, shape, etc.) are represented in separate areas of the visual cortex. Although represented in separate neuronal areas, somehow the feature representations are brought together as a single, unified object of visual consciousness. This raises a question of binding: how do neural activities in separate areas of the visual cortex function to produce a feature-unified object of visual consciousness? Several prominent neuroscientists have adopted neural synchrony and attention-based (...) approaches to explain object feature binding. I argue that although neural synchrony and attentional mechanisms might function to disambiguate an object’s features, it is difficult to see how either of these mechanisms could fully explain the unity of an object’s features at the level of visual consciousness. After presenting a detailed critique of neural synchrony and attention-based approaches to object feature binding, I propose interactive hierarchical structuralism (IHS). This view suggests that a unified percept (i.e., a feature-unified object of visual consciousness) is not reducible to the activity of any cognitive capacity or to any localized neural area, but emerges out of the interaction of visual information organized by spatial structuring capacities correlated with lower, higher, and intermediate levels of the visual hierarchy. After clarifying different notions of emergence and elaborating evidence for IHS, I discuss how IHS can be tested through transcranial magnetic stimulation and backward masking. In the final section I present some further implications and advantages of IHS. (shrink)
This book presents the case for Compassionate Reasoning as a moral and psychosocial skill for the positive transformation of individuals and societies. It has been developed from a reservoir of moral philosophical, cultural, and religious wisdom traditions over the centuries. These have been derived from a careful combination of classical schools of ethical thought that are artfully combined with compassion neuroscience, contemporary approaches to conflict resolution, public health methodologies, and positive psychological approaches to social change. There is an urgent need (...) for human civilization to invest in the broad-based cultivation of compassionate thoughts, feelings, and especially habits. This skill is then combined with moral reasoning to move the self and others toward less anger and fear, more joy and care in the pursuit of reasonable policies that build peaceful families, communities, and societies. There are many people across the planet who work every day for the sake of others but who are ensconced in exhausting work with dangerous and difficult situations of conflict. These people are often heroic bridge-builders and creators of peaceful societies, and they have a common set of cultivated moral character traits and psychosocial skills. They tend to be kinder, more reasonable, more self-controlled, and more goal-oriented to peace. They are united by a particular set of moral values and the emotional skills to put those values into practice. The aim of this book is to articulate the best combination of those values and skills that lead to personal and communal sustainability, not burnout and self-destruction. The book pivots on the observable difference in the mind-and proven in neuroscience imaging experiments-between destructive empathic distress, on the one hand, and, on the other, joyful, constructive, compassionate care. Facing existential threats to life on the planet, humans can and must make such skills universally sustainable and ingrained. (shrink)
Snoek, like other commentators, conflates some of my neural claims with those of the Brain Disease Model of Addiction. But she sees other details of my modeling with precision and depth. I welcome her emphasis on individual and developmental differences in addicts' capacity to recognize and deploy their personal agency. In fact we agree that belief in personal agency is a critical first step to cultivating it. Yet I wish to steer away from the disease nomenclature, to give that belief (...) its best chance to flourish. (shrink)
Although I reject neuronormativity -- an idea central to the Brain Disease Model of Addiction -- Henden and Gjelsvik argue that the disease definition might refer to normativity in nonneural domains. They profess that a cognitive dysfunction, or a mismatch of evolutionary intentions, could also qualify as norm violations, thus legitimizing the disease label. The need for dividing lines is questioned as well. I rebut these criticisms in turn, but I must admit they are thought provoking.
Some dynamic systems approaches posit discontinuous changes, even universal stages, in development. Conversely, Thelen and colleagues see development as gradual because it relies on real-time interactions among many components. Yet their new model hinges on one parameter, neural cooperativity, that should change discontinuously because it engenders new skills that catalyze neural connectivity. In fact, research on cortical connectivity finds development to be discontinuous, and possibly stage-like, based on experience-dependent and experience-independent factors.
Szalavitz’s model and mine share a good many components. Foremost among them is the conviction that addiction is a developmental trajectory, not a disease. Szalavitz is correct that we should consider controlled substance use an acceptable outcome, though I would like her to shift her terminology away from the medical mainstream. Finally, I suggest that Szalavitz's important idea of a "reset" in brain development might best be addressed by the notion of kindling.
Ainslie’s contribution offers a useful refinement of his powerful model of intertemporal bargaining. However, he focuses mostly on the cognitive mechanisms of choice. I suggest that these interact with emotional, personality, and developmental dynamics that cannot be ignored, either psychologically or neurally.
Despite its historical contribution, Heather sees the Brain Disease Model of Addiction as failing to relieve stigma, increasing fatalism, and fundamentally wrong. He also sees “choice” as partly volitional and partly unconscious, implying no moral violation. I agree on all counts. Heather then presents a disorder-of-choice model of addiction, highlighting the failure of self-regulation with respect to immediate goals. Not only do I endorse such modeling, but the neural mechanisms I describe may help to explicate it more thoroughly.
Although these authors sometimes resort to medical terminology, we strongly agree that addiction is not a disease and that the Brain Disease Model of Addiction captures only one part of the story and distorts the big picture. Yet Satel and Lilienfeld continue to conflate a neurobiological model with a disease model. They also complain that my modeling of addiction reveals a hidden “neurocentric” bias, despite my integration of multiple levels of analysis, exactly as they recommend.
Wakefield doesn't mind my focus on parallels between addiction and love. But love can fall outside the bounds of what evolution intended. So, he claims, comparing addiction with love does not preclude a naturally defined "disorder." I counter with the argument that evolution handed us such highly general response systems, the bounds of normality cannot be defined.
Our model integrates the nativist assumption of prespecified neural structures underpinning basic emotions with the constructionist view that emotions are assembled from psychological constituents. From a dynamic systems perspective, the nervous system self-organizes in different ways at different time scales, in relation to functions served by emotions. At the evolutionary scale, brain parts and their connections are specified by selective pressures. At the scale of development, connectivity is revised through synaptic shaping. At the scale of real time, temporary networks of (...) synchronized activity mediate responses to situations. To the degree that humans share common emotional functions, neural structuration is similar across scales, giving rise to “basic” emotions. However, unique developmental and situational factors select for neural configurations mediating emotional variants. (shrink)
Flanagan asserts that my model of addiction would apply as well to sonnet writing. Yet his most interesting point is that “addiction” is an imprecise label for a cluster of distinct phenomena. I agree with him that we need to examine these distinctions, but that doesn’t negate their shared features. Neuroscience can play an important role in advancing our understanding of both commonalities and distinctions within the phenomena of addiction.
What is a law of nature? Traditionally, philosophical discussion of this question has been dominated by two prominent alternatives; David Lewis’s best-systems analysis, according to which a law is a regularity that serves as a theorem in our best axiomatization of the facts about the world, and the Dretske-Armstrong-Tooley analysis, which incorporates universals to distinguish laws from mere accidental generalizations. Marc Lange’s ﬁrst book presents a provocative alternative to this tradition, providing a novel treatment of natural laws that should (...) be of interest to those philosophers concerned with the analysis of lawhood, physical necessity, causation, inductive conﬁrmation, counterfactual analysis, and explanation. (shrink)
Marc Hauser puts forth the theory that humans have evolved a universal moral instinct, unconsciously propelling us to deliver judgments of right and wrong independent of gender, education, and religion. Combining his cutting-edge research with the latest findings in cognitive psychology, linguistics, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, economics, and anthropology, Hauser explores the startling implications of his provocative theory vis-à-vis contemporary bioethics, religion, the law, and our everyday lives.
Accounting for the Commandments in Medieval Judaism explores the discursive formation of the commandments as a generative matrix of Jewish thought and life in the posttalmudic period. Each study sheds light on how medieval Jews crafted the commandments out of theretofore underdetermined material. By systematizing, representing, or interrogating the amorphous category of commandment, medieval Jewish authors across both the Islamic and Christian spheres of influence sought to explain, justify, and characterize Israel's legal system, divine revelation, the cosmos, and even the (...) divine order. This volume correlates bodies of knowledge-such as jurisprudence, philosophy, ethics, pietism, and kabbalah-that are normally treated in isolation into a single conversation about a shared constitutional concern. (shrink)
This ethnographic study of political life in the department of the Yonne, in the Burgundy region, explores a still richly Balzacian provincial world. The author, a French anthropologist, has extensive field experience in Ethiopia. Deploying the insights and methods of social anthropology by drawing on local history, interviews and participant observation, Abélès describes politicians at every level, from municipal officers to Members of Parliament and Ministers. He provides a clear picture of the process of 'decentralization' initiated by the Socialist government (...) in 1982, and undermines the simplistic notion of 'centralist France'. This book, which develops a fresh perspective on political life in France, past and present, illustrates more generally an exciting approach to modern political phenomena, from the point of view of anthropology. (shrink)
In his groundbreaking book, Marc Hauser puts forth a revolutionary new theory: that humans have evolved a universal moral instinct, unconsciously propelling us to deliver judgments of right and wrong independent of gender, education, and religion. Combining his cutting-edge research with the latest findings in cognitive psychology, linguistics, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, economics, and anthropology, Hauser explores the startling implications of his provocative theory vis-à-vis contemporary bioethics, religion, the law, and our everyday lives.
More than 800 years after his death, the figure of Moses Maimonides—rabbi, philosopher, doctor, and communal leader—continues to fascinate. _Studies in Maimonides and His Interpreters_ unites the traditional rabbinic approach and the modern academic perspective to forge a new understanding of this iconic teacher._ _ This groundbreaking work by Marc B. Shapiro, which includes an essay on Maimonides’ approach to superstition in rabbinic literature and features three previously unpublished letters by Rabbi Joseph Kafih, will be essential reading for scholars (...) and students of Jewish studies. (shrink)