Natural:Mind, published for the first time in São Paulo, Brazil, in 1979, investigates the paradoxical connection between the concepts of nature and culture through a lively para-phenomenological analysis of natural and cultural phenomena. Always applying his fluid and imagistic Husserlian style of phenomenology, Vilém Flusser explores different perspectives and relations of items from everyday life.
In _Natural:Mind_, published for the first time in São Paulo, Brazil, in 1979, Vilém Flusser investigates the paradoxical connection between the concepts of nature and culture through a lively para-phenomenological analysis of natural and cultural phenomena. Can culture be considered natural and nature cultural? If culture is our natural habitat then do we not inhabit nature? These are only some of the questions that are raised in _Natural:Mind_ in order to examine our continual redefinition of both terms (...) and what that means for us existentially. Always applying his fluid and imagistic Husserlian style of phenomenology, Flusser explores different perspectives and relations of items from everyday life. The book is composed of a series of essays based on close observations of familiar objects such as paths, valleys, cows, meadows, trees, fingers, grass, the moon, and buttons. By focusing on things we mostly take for granted, he manages not only to reveal some aspects of their real and obscured nature but also to radically change how we look at them. The ordinary cow will never be seen in the same way again. (shrink)
In NaturalMinds Thomas Polger advocates, and defends, the philosophical theory that mind equals brain -- that sensations are brain processes -- and in doing so brings the mind-brain identity theory back into the philosophical debate about consciousness. The version of identity theory that Polger advocates holds that conscious processes, events, states, or properties are type- identical to biological processes, events, states, or properties -- a "tough-minded" account that maintains that minds are necessarily indentical to brains, a (...) position held by few current identity theorists. Polger's approach to what William James called the "great blooming buzzing confusion" of consciousness begins with the idea that we need to know more about brains in order to understand consciousness fully, but recognizes that biology alone cannot provide the entire explanation. NaturalMinds takes on issues from philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, and metaphysics, moving freely among them in its discussion.Polger begins by answering two major objections to identity theory -- Hilary Putnam's argument from multiple realizability and Saul Kripke's modal argument against mind-brain identity. He then offers a detailed account of functionalism and functional realization, which offer the most serious obstacle to consideration of identity theory. Polger argues that identity theory can itself satisfy the kind of explanatory demands that are often believed to favor functionalism. (shrink)
The key issue of traditional theories of human nature in China is De or virtue, Yu or desire and their correlation. It leads to two developing currents: one is the old tradition since Xia, Shang and Zhou, the Three Dynasties which take desire as nature, another is the new tradition later Confucius initiated which take virtue as nature. So the understanding of human nature in early China experienced a process from desire to virtue, or from the instinct of human to (...) the essence of human. Prior to Confucius, nature is desire and instinct. In that time, the theories of human nature has two themes, namely to manage nature by virtue and to explain nature by Qi. Since Lao Zi, virtue was taken as the inner essence of human. Later Confucius further to take virtue as nature directly, so completes the fundamental transformation of traditional theory of human nature. This is the source of the idea nature of reason and the origin of the theory nature is good. Zisi advocated “what Heaven has conferred is called the nature” to promote the new tradition, and named desire as “the inner”. The new excavated bamboo book Xing Zi Ming Chu not only developed the idea of “the inner” of Zisi, but also further to restore desire as nature, and constructed a unique system of outer moral apriorism for it. Shortly afterward, Mencius turns this trend and advocates none but the four beginnings is nature, desire only is impartment, therefore he develops the new tradition to extremes. Even though, before the period between Tang and Song dynasties, the mainstream of the theory of human nature in China was the oldtradition, and that the new tradition merely like a flash in the pan. In fact, the dualism of human nature in Song and Ming dynasties carried on the old tradition, and at the same time, succeeded the new tradition, and put them into a unified thought system. (shrink)
What is it that leads the author to take up the particular problems which he studies in this book? The topics do not of themselves fit into a structure. The author would dissent from this statement. For instance he says that the book ultimately attempts to clarify the relation between mind and body. With all respect, I suggest that the book could be more suitably entitled "Problems of philosophy in which I have been interested and which I have discussed with (...) myself or with friends on various occasions." The author succeeds in communicating his own zest and interest to the reader. The unity of the book lies rather in its attitude--which I will describe as a combination of empirical analysis with commonsense. But the word "analysis" should not mislead the reader into supposing that the author is a member of the Oxford Group. I am using the word "analysis" in its old-fashioned sense to mean "clear and distinct ideas and definitions." The author would prefer to speak of an analysis of the meaning of words; yet essentially his quest is not different from that of Socrates who aimed to clarify ideas, nor from that of Descartes with his insistence on clear and distinct ideas. But as against the latter at least, the author would insist that philosophical analysis should have empirical roots and an empirical reference. By speaking of commonsense as a component of the author's attitude I mean something more than his addiction to empiricism. I mean his espousal of commonsense categories like, for instance, substance and property, and his preference for commonsense usages. For example, Professor Ducasse rejects behaviorism for the professed reason that the commonsense usage of the word "observation" includes introspection as well as external perception. But I will try to show that the alliance between clarity and commonsense in the author's mind often dissolves into an undeclared and a cold war between them, in which commonsense has the worst of it. (shrink)
Harris is not unaware of the problem involved or of the fact that a very large number of philosophers would disagree with his own stand on the matter. He even goes so far as to call it a paradox--though he hastens to make clear that he does not actually regard it as such. "How can a finite and imperfect fragment aspire so to transcend its own limits as to cancel its fragmentary and imperfect character, which yet must be maintained in (...) order that its knowledge should not be defective"? Employing the same argument which Hegel used against Kant's theory of the Thing-in-itself, Harris adds that "to know of limitations is at once to have transcended them". Now there can be no doubt that this is the case. To be aware of finiteness or subjectivity is to be one step beyond it, to recognize it for what it is. And some ideal or idea is required by virtue of which we can assess the limitations of our situation. But, we must inquire, what purchase do we thereby acquire on the absolute? What sort of transcendence do we achieve? Is absolute knowledge always implicit in our imperfect knowledge of the world in such a way that we can hope to put our imperfections behind and achieve a level of thought and knowledge at which being and truth are one? Or is knowledge necessarily infected with a mode of subjectivity which is ineradicable? (shrink)
Professor Harris of Witwatersrand is an unabashed Absolute Idealist, whose constructive philosophy may not, perhaps, be readily acceptable to many others but who manifestly exercises an invaluable role as a trenchant critic of the prevailing Anglo-Saxon fashions of Empiricism. This school of thought possibly demands closer definition of its common nature than he affords, but his analysis of the detail of its historical development and its retention of the obsolete logic and epistemology of its Renaissance origin is devastatingly frank, if (...) emotionally polemical when it reaches Logical Positivism. His account-sheet of historic errors comes opportunely at a time when British philosophers are uneasily conscious of their dogmatic presuppositions and open to criticism. Professor Harris takes full advantage of this condition, as his bold programme announces. (shrink)
1. Concerning the meaning of reality, Mr. Demos asserts that, according to me, "what we call real is wholly relative to our purposes" and then points out that this is not what "real" means when we ask about a story whether what it relates really happened.
In a number of important works, Jerry Fodor has wrestled with the problem of how mental representation can be accounted for within a physicalist framework. His favored response has attempted to identify nonintentional conditions for intentionality, relying on a nexus of casual relations between symbols and what they represent. I examine Fodor's theory and argue that it fails to meet its own conditions for adequacy insofar as it presupposes the very phenomenon that it purports to account for. I conclude, however, (...) that the ontological commitments of intentional psychology survive within a broader conception of naturalism than the one adopted by Fodor. (shrink)
This book describes and explores six current approaches to the study of mind: the neuroscientific, the behavioral, the competence approach, the ecological, the phenomenological, and the computational. No other book in cognitive science covers such a broad range of research programs and topics in such a balanced fashion. The first chapter is a mini-history and philosophy of psychology which reviews some of the scientific developments and philosophical arguments behind these six different approaches. Each subsequent chapter presents work that is on (...) the frontiers of research in its field. (shrink)
The claim is frequently made that structured collections of individuals who are themselves subjects of mental and cognitive states – such collections as courts, countries, and corporations – can be, and often are, subjects of mental or cognitive states. And, to be clear, advocates for this so-called group-minds hypothesis intend their view to be interpreted literally, not metaphorically. The existing critical literature casts substantial doubt on this view, at least on the assumption that groups are claimed to instantiate the (...) same species of mental and cognitive properties as individual humans. In this essay, I evaluate a defensive move made by some proponents of the group-oriented view: to concede that group states and individual states aren’t of the same specific natural kinds, while holding that groups instantiate different species of mental or cognitive states – perhaps a different species of cognition itself – from those instantiated by humans. In order to evaluate this defense of group cognition, I develop a view of natural kinds – or at least of the sort of evidence that supports inferences to the sameness of natural kind – a view I have previous dubbed the ‘tweak-and-extend’ theory. Guided by the tweak-and-extend approach, I arrive at a tentative conclusion: that what is common to models of individual cognitive processing and models of group processing does not suffice to establish sameness of cognitive (or mental) kinds, properties, or state-types, not even at a generic or overarching level. (shrink)
_The Nature of the Mind_ is a comprehensive and lucid introduction to major themes in the philosophy of mind. It carefully explores the conflicting positions that have arisen within the debate and locates the arguments within their context. It is designed for newcomers to the subject and assumes no previous knowledge of the philosophy of mind. Clearly written and rigorously presented, this book is ideal for use in undergraduate courses in the philosophy of mind. Main topics covered include: * the (...) problem of other minds * the dualist/physicalist debate * the nature of personal identity and survival * mental-state concepts The book closes with a number of pointers towards more advanced work in the subject. Study questions and suggestions for further reading are provided at the end of each chapter. _The Nature of the Mind_ is based on Peter Carruthers' book, _Introducing Persons_, also published by Routledge. (shrink)
In a paper titled "Dewey between Hegel and Darwin," Richard Rorty argued that while it is appropriate to describe John Dewey as a radical empiricist and panpsychist, it would be better if we allowed those aspects of his thought to atrophy and eventually disappear. This paper challenges that claim, arguing that properly understood, radical empiricism and panpsychism continue to have a role in a world newly fascinated by the way bodies, minds, experience and nature are all interwoven into a (...) complex organic network. (shrink)
This book aims at reconciling the emerging conceptions of mind and their contents that have, in recent years, come to seem irreconcilable. Post-Cartesian philosophers face the challenge of comprehending minds as natural objects possessing apparently non-natural powers of thought. The difficulty is to understand how our mental capacities, no less than our biological or chemical characteristics, might ultimately be products of our fundamental physical constituents, and to do so in a way that preserves the phenomena. Externalists argue (...) that the significance of thought turns on the circumstances of thinkers; reductionists hold that mental characteristics are physical; eliminationists contend that the concept of thought belongs to an outmoded folk theory of behavior. John Heil explores these topics and points the way to a naturalistic synthesis, one that accords the mental a place in the physical world alongside the non-mental. (shrink)
According to models of objectification, viewing someone as a body induces de-mentalization, stripping away their psychological traits. Here evidence is presented for an alternative account, where a body focus does not diminish the attribution of all mental capacities but, instead, leads perceivers to infer a different kind of mind. Drawing on the distinction in mind perception between agency and experience, it is found that focusing on someone's body reduces perceptions of agency but increases perceptions of experience. These effects were found (...) when comparing targets represented by both revealing versus nonrevealing pictures or by simply directing attention toward physical characteristics. The effect of a body focus on mind perception also influenced moral intuitions, with those represented as a body seen to be less morally responsible but more sensitive to harm. These effects suggest that a body focus does not cause objectification per se but, instead, leads to a redistribution of perceived mind. (shrink)
_Natural Language and Possible Minds: How Language Uncovers the Cognitive Landscape of Nature_ examines the intrinsic connection between natural language and the nature of mentality, offering to show how language can shed light on the forms of other types of mentality in non-humans.
This thesis is a study of the philosophical system of a little-studied, but important medieval thinker, John Scottus Eriugena , concentrating on his Periphyseon . ;I argue that Eriugena's system of nature must be approached through an investigation of his epistemology and general philosophy of mind. Instead of beginning with his fourfold classification of Nature, as most commentators have done, I begin with Eriugena's concept of the mind and its dialectical operations , and continue with an examination of his anthropology (...) , and his concept of self-knowledge , before turning to his relativist ontology of being and non-being . Chapter Seven examines Eriugena's fourfold division of Nature in the light of the earlier chapters. ;Against some recent commentators, I argue that Eriugena should not be interpreted solely from within the framework of the Latin-Augustinian metaphysical tradition of the early Middle Ages, that it was his sympathy for Greek Christian Neoplatonism which led him to develop an idealist philosophical outlook . Eriugena synthesises the Greek Eastern and the Latin Western traditions into a profound and original philosophical system. ;I show further that Eriugena "deconstructs" Latin metaphysical realism in favour of his own "me-ontology" or "meta-ontology," inspired by the Greeks. He produces the most detailed account of non-being between Plato's Parmenides and the phenomenologies of nothingness of Heidegger and Sartre. ;The summit of Eriugena's system is infinite Non-being, or infinite self-identical subjectivity. This philosophy bears strong similarities to post-Kantian critical philosophy, especially the Idealism of Fichte, Schelling and Hegel. My interpretation thus agrees with the nineteenth-century Idealist reading of Eriugena. At the same time, it suggests the implications of Eriugena's idealism for the interpretation of certain modern philosophies. (shrink)