This volume is a collection of essays by various contributors in honor of the late Laurence Berns, Richard Hammond Elliot Tutor Emeritus at St. John's College, Annapolis. The essays address the literary, political, theological, and philosophical themes of his life's work as a scholar, teacher, and constant companion of the "great books.".
Robert Rupert argues against the view that human cognitive processes comprise elements beyond the boundary of the organism, developing a systems-based conception in place of this extended view. He also argues for a conciliatory understanding of the relation between the computational approach to cognition and the embedded and embodied views.
The Covid-19 pandemic has led to severe shortages of many essential goods and services, from hand sanitizers and N-95 masks to ICU beds and ventilators. Although rationing is not unprecedented, never before has the American public been faced with the prospect of having to ration medical goods and services on this scale.
Stolorow and his collaborators' post-Cartesian psychoanalytic perspective – intersubjective-systems theory – is a phenomenological contextualism that illuminates worlds of emotional experience as they take form within relational contexts. After outlining the evolution and basic ideas of this framework, Stolorow shows both how post-Cartesian psychoanalysis finds enrichment and philosophical support in Heidegger's analysis of human existence, and how Heidegger's existential philosophy, in turn, can be enriched and expanded by an encounter with post-Cartesian psychoanalysis. In doing so, he creates an important psychological (...) bridge between post-Cartesian psychoanalysis and existential philosophy in the phenomenology of emotional trauma. (shrink)
A theory of cognitive systems individuation is presented and defended. The approach has some affinity with Leonard Talmy's Overlapping Systems Model of Cognitive Organization, and the paper's first section explores aspects of Talmy's view that are shared by the view developed herein. According to the view on offer -- the conditional probability of co-contribution account (CPC) -- a cognitive system is a collection of mechanisms that contribute, in overlapping subsets, to a wide variety of forms of intelligent behavior. Central to (...) this approach is the idea of an integrated system. A formal characterization of integration is laid out in the form of a conditional-probabilitybased measure of the clustering of causal contributors to the production of intelligent behavior. I relate the view to the debate over extended and embodied cognition and respond to objections that have been raised in print by Andy Clark, Colin Klein, and Felipe de Brigard. (shrink)
These ten lectures articulate a distinctive vision of the structure and workings of the human mind, drawing from research on embodied cognition as well as from historically more entrenched approaches to the study of human thought. On the author’s view, multifarious materials co-contribute to the production of virtually all forms of human behavior, rendering implausible the idea that human action is best explained by processes taking place in an autonomous mental arena – those in the conscious mind or occurring at (...) the so-called personal level. Rather, human behavior issues from a widely varied, though nevertheless integrated, collection of states and mechanisms, the integrated nature of which is determined by a form of clustering in the components’ contributions to the production of intelligent behavior. This package of resources, the cognitive system, is the human self. Among its elements, the cognitive system includes a vast number of representations, many subsets of which share their content. On the author’s view, redundancy of content itself constitutes an important explanatory quantity; the greater the extent of content-redundancy among representations that co-contribute to the production of an instance of behavior, the more fluid the behavior. In the course of developing and applying these views, the author addresses questions about the content of mental representations, extended cognition, the value of knowledge, and group minds. (shrink)
Philosophers of mind commonly draw a distinction between the personal level – the distinctive realm of conscious experience and reasoned deliberation – and the subpersonal level, the domain of mindless mechanism and brute cause and effect. Moreover, they tend to view cognitive science through the lens of this distinction. Facts about the personal level are given a priori, by introspection, or by common sense; the job of cognitive science is merely to investigate the mechanistic basis of these facts. I argue (...) that this view misrepresents the structure of cognitive-scientific enquiry. Taken at face value, cognitive science makes no commitment to the existence of a distinctive level at which persons or selves appear. Thus, in the age of cognitive science, we should not expect to find the self in an ontologically distinct realm. Instead, we should expect to locate it in cognitive-scientific models themselves. In closing, I indicate likely results of this approach. (shrink)
Trauma and Human Existence effectively interweaves two themes central to emotional trauma--the first pertains to the contextuality of emotional life in general, and of the experience of emotional trauma in particular, and the second pertains to the recognition that the possibility of emotional trauma is built into the basic constitution of human existence. This volume traces how both themes interconnect, largely as they crystallize in the author’s personal experience of traumatic loss. As discussed in the book's final chapter, whether or (...) not this constitutive possibility will be brought lastingly into the foreground of our experiential world depends on the relational contexts in which we live. (shrink)
In this essay, it is argued that naturalism of an even moderate sort speaks strongly against a certain widely held thesis about the human mental (and cognitive) architecture: that it is divided into two distinct levels, the personal and the subpersonal, about the former of which we gain knowledge in a manner that effectively insulates such knowledge from the results of scientific research. -/- An empirically motivated alternative is proposed, according to which the architecture is, so to speak, flattened from (...) above. On this flattened view, although the states and processes typically associated with the personal level likely appear in our best models of the production of human behavior, they appear alongside states and processes normally associated with the subpersonal level. Moreover, the success of such models depends nowise on a levels-based distinction between the various causal contributors. It is argued that the flattened view has methodological implications of significant import. (shrink)
This paper asks about the ways in which embodimentoriented cognitive science contributes to our understanding of phenomenal consciousness. It is first argued that central work in the field of embodied cognitive science does not solve the hard problem of consciousness head on. It is then argued that an embodied turn toward neurophenomenology makes no distinctive headway on the puzzle of consciousness; for neurophenomenology either concedes dualism in the face of the hard problem or represents only a slight methodological variation on (...) extant cognitive-scientific approaches to the easy problems of consciousness. The paper closes with the positive suggestion that embodied cognitive science supports a different approach to phenomenal consciousness, according to which the mind is massively representational, cognitive science has no use for the personal-level posits that tend to drive philosophical theorizing about consciousness and mind, and the hard problem is illusory. (shrink)
This essay joins Wilhelm Dilthey’s conception of the metaphysical impulse as a flight from the tragedy of human finitude with Ludwig Wittgenstein’s understanding of how language bewitches intelligence. We contend that there are features of the phenomenology of language that play a constitutive and pervasive role in the formation of metaphysical illusion.
Summary of claims: (1) One of the most important relationships between the ontical and the ontological in Heidegger’s thought is the central, ontologically revelatory role that he gives to moods. (2) Heidegger uses the word “mood” as a term of art to refer to the whole range of disclosive affectivity. (3) Because of the role that Heidegger grants to mood as a primordial way of disclosing Being-in-the-world, and because it is impossible to think mood without also thinking the lived body, (...) Heidegger has placed the latter at the center of Dasein’s disclosedness. (4) Heidegger’s account of mood thus entails and highlights, rather than neglects, the ontological significance of the body. (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)
For well over two decades, Andy Clark has been gleaning theoretical lessons from the leading edge of cognitive science, applying a combination of empirical savvy and philosophical instinct that few can match. Clark’s most recent book, Supersizing the Mind: Embodiment, Action, and Cognitive Extension, brilliantly expands his oeuvre. It offers a well-informed and focused survey of research in the burgeoning field of situated cognition, a field that emphasizes the contribution of environmental and non-neural bodily structures to the production of intelligent (...) behavior. The situated research program, fledgling though it may be in some respects, has reached an age at which its philosophical stock can reasonably be taken; and Clark is just the person to take it. Supersizing the Mind consists of three main divisions. The first develops the case for the distinctively extended view of cognition, according to which the human mind or cognitive system literally comprises elements beyond the boundary of the human organism. The second responds to critics of the extended outlook: Frederick Adams, Kenneth Aizawa, Keith Butler, Brie Gertler, Rick Grush, and me, among others. The third major division evaluates nonextended strands in the situated program, in particular, those that emphasize the role of the non-neural body in cognition. (shrink)
_A moving meditation on recent geopolitical crises, viewed through the lens of ancient and modern tragedy__ “Spare, elegant and poignant.... If there is a single contemporary book that should be pressed into the hands of those who decide issues of war and peace, this is it.”—John Gray, _New Statesman_ “It is tragic that Robert D. Kaplan’s luminous _The Tragic Mind_ is so urgently needed.”—George F. Will_ Some books emerge from a lifetime of hard-won knowledge. Robert D. Kaplan has (...) learned, from a career spent reporting on wars, revolutions, and international politics in Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia, that the essence of geopolitics is tragedy. In _The Tragic Mind_, he employs the works of ancient Greek dramatists, Shakespeare, German philosophers, and the modern classics to explore the central subjects of international politics: order, disorder, rebellion, ambition, loyalty to family and state, violence, and the mistakes of power. The great dilemmas of international politics, he argues, are not posed by good versus evil—a clear and easy choice—but by contests of good versus good, where the choices are often searing, incompatible, and fraught with consequences. A deeply learned and deeply felt meditation on the importance of lived experience in conducting international relations, this is a book for everyone who wants a profound understanding of the tragic politics of our time. (shrink)
This paper engages critically with anti-representationalist arguments pressed by prominent enactivists and their allies. The arguments in question are meant to show that the “as-such” and “job-description” problems constitute insurmountable challenges to causal-informational theories of mental content. In response to these challenges, a positive account of what makes a physical or computational structure a mental representation is proposed; the positive account is inspired partly by Dretske’s views about content and partly by the role of mental representations in contemporary cognitive scientific (...) modeling. (shrink)
Despite its familiarity and widespread acceptance, the concept of “brain death” remains incoherent in theory and confused in practice. Moreover, the only purpose served by the concept is to facilitate the procurement of transplantable organs. By abandoning the concept of brain death and adopting different criteria for organ procurement, we may be able to increase both the supply of transplantable organs and clarity in our understanding of death.
Biographer Richardson has written a moving portrait of James--pivotal member of the Metaphysical Club and author of The Varieties of Religious Experience. The biography, ten years in the making, draws on unpublished letters, journals, and family records. Richardson paints extraordinary scenes from what James himself called the "buzzing blooming confusion" of his life, beginning with childhood, as he struggled to achieve amid the domestic chaos and intellectual brilliance of Father, brother Henry, and sister Alice. James was a beloved teacher who (...) taught courage and risk-taking, and served as mentor to W.E.B. Du Bois, Gertrude Stein, and many other Harvard outsiders. Richardson also illuminates James's hugely influential works. One of the great figures in mysticism here brought richly to life, James is a man "whose leading ideas are still so fresh and challenging that they are not yet fully assimilated by the modern world they helped to bring about."--From publisher description. (shrink)
Recent debates over adults' theory of mind use have been fueled by surprising failures of perspective-taking in communication, suggesting that perspective-taking may be relatively effortful. Yet adults routinely engage in effortful processes when needed. How, then, should speakers and listeners allocate their resources to achieve successful communication? We begin with the observation that the shared goal of communication induces a natural division of labor: The resources one agent chooses to allocate toward perspective-taking should depend on their expectations about the other's (...) allocation. We formalize this idea in a resource-rational model augmenting recent probabilistic weighting accounts with a mechanism for (costly) control over the degree of perspective-taking. In a series of simulations, we first derive an intermediate degree of perspective weighting as an optimal trade-off between expected costs and benefits of perspective-taking. We then present two behavioral experiments testing novel predictions of our model. In Experiment 1, we manipulated the presence or absence of occlusions in a director–matcher task. We found that speakers spontaneously modulated the informativeness of their descriptions to account for “known unknowns” in their partner's private view, reflecting a higher degree of speaker perspective-taking than previously acknowledged. In Experiment 2, we then compared the scripted utterances used by confederates in prior work with those produced in interactions with unscripted directors. We found that confederates were systematically less informative than listeners would initially expect given the presence of occlusions, but listeners used violations to adaptively make fewer errors over time. Taken together, our work suggests that people are not simply “mindblind”; they use contextually appropriate expectations to navigate the division of labor with their partner. We discuss how a resource-rational framework may provide a more deeply explanatory foundation for understanding flexible perspective-taking under processing constraints. (shrink)
After noting how academic philosophers have shunned psychobiography, the author brings to focus the psychobiographical sources of Martin Heidegger's "turn" from a hermeneutic phenomenology to a form of metaphysical mysticism.
This book is a history of the crucial developmental years of quantum theory with an emphasis on the literature rather than an overview of this period focusing on personalities or personal stories of the scientists involved. This book instead focuses on how the theoretical discoveries came about, when and where they were published, and how they became accepted as part of the scientific canon.
There is no doubt that social interaction plays an important role in language-learning, as well as in concept acquisition. In surprising contrast, social interaction makes only passing appearance in our most promising naturalistic theories of content. This is particularly true in the case of mental content (e.g., Cummins, 1996; Dretske, 1981, 1988; Fodor, 1987, 1990a; Millikan, 1984); and insofar as linguistic content derives from mental content (Grice, 1957), social interaction seems missing from our best naturalistic theories of both.1 In this (...) paper, I explore the ways in which even the most individualistic of theories of mental content can, and should, accommodate social effects. I focus especially on the way in which inferential relations, including those that are socially taught, influence language-learning and concept acquisition. I argue that these factors affect the way subjects conceive of mental and linguistic content. Such effects have a dark side: the social and inferential processes in question give rise to misleading intuitions about content itself. They create the illusion that content and inferential relations are more deeply intertwined than they actually are. This illusion confounds an otherwise attractive solution to what is known as ‘Frege’s puzzle’ (Salmon, 1986). I.. (shrink)
This paper evaluates the Natural-Kinds Argument for cognitive extension, which purports to show that the kinds presupposed by our best cognitive science have instances external to human organism. Various interpretations of the argument are articulated and evaluated, using the overarching categories of memory and cognition as test cases. Particular emphasis is placed on criteria for the scientific legitimacy of generic kinds, that is, kinds characterized in very broad terms rather than in terms of their fine-grained causal roles. Given the current (...) state of cognitive science, I conclude that we have no reason to think memory or cognition are generic natural kinds that can ground an argument for cognitive extension. (shrink)
After a brief overview of the author's phenomenological-contextualist psychoanalytic perspective, the paper traces the evolution of the author’s conception of emotional trauma over the course of three decades, as it developed in concert with his efforts to grasp his own traumatized states and his studies of existential philosophy. The author illuminates two of trauma’s essential features: (1) its context-embeddedness—painful or frightening affect becomes traumatic when it cannot find a context of emotional understanding in which it can be held and integrated, (...) and (2) its existential significance—emotional trauma shatters our illusions of safety and plunges us into an authentic Being-toward-death, wherein we must face up to our finitude and the finitude of all those we love. The paper also describes the impact of trauma on the phenomenology of time and the sense of alienation from others that accompanies traumatic temporality. The author contends that the proper therapeutic comportment toward trauma is a form of emotional dwelling. He concludes with a discussion of the implications of all these formulations for the development of an ethics of finitude. (shrink)