Articles #Philosophy of mind


Spinoza's Perky and Adorable Rationalist Charms

Spinoza's Perky and Adorable Rationalist Charms

The core idea is that concepts have a special feature. One thing can be truly conceived in a variety of ways, even when the different ways of being conceived involve partially or wholly distinct contents. To take a familiar example, suppose being physical and being mental are two different natures or fundamental ways of being a thing. Descartes thought these two kinds of natures are so different that they are incompatible: if something is physical, it can’t be mental, and vice versa. Spinoza argues that if being physical and being mental are just two different ways of conceiving one and the same thing, then a spatially extended thing could also be thinking. Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Sam Newlands

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Transformation, the Situated Self and Philosophy of Physics

Transformation, the Situated Self and Philosophy of Physics

Most people, when they hear about determinism, imagine the universe as a whole unfolding with physical necessity from initial conditions that were laid down shortly after the Big Bang. There’s this metaphorical origin story that has God specifying the laws and then laying down each of the particles of which the universe was made at a particular position with a particular momentum, thereby fixing everything that will ever happen over the whole history of the universe. If one is thinking in this way, then one’s own life will appear as part of this unfolding totality and it seems that its sense of restless contingency will seem an illusion. If we take physics on its own terms, however, we come away with a very different picture of what determinism entails and our own place in the causal fabric of the world. Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Jenann T Ismael

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A Mind With a View

A Mind With a View

About masculinist bias in epistemology: I’m a skeptic about this, at least about the specific allegations that have been made by some feminist epistemologists, namely that the individualism and abstractness of Western (or “Western”) philosophy is evidence of masculinist bias. First of all, men have dominated philosophy and religious thought throughout the world and throughout history, whether we’re talking dualism, monism, Taoist, or Hindu. So every epistemological tradition has been shaped, if any has, by the interests and self-conceptions of men. Secondly, there’s variation within the “Western” epistemological tradition, and that variation cannot be explained by gender differences. Wittgenstein seems perfectly OK by the lights of some feminists who criticize the Anglo-American (which is really German-Austrian-(and-only-after-the-Nazis-) Anglo-American, having been more or less started by the Vienna Circle). Marx and Foucault are revered. So if those men can transcend their masculinity and produce theories (or anti-theories, in the case of Wittgenstein), I don’t see why Descartes couldn’t as well. Thirdly – and we know this largely because of the groundbreaking work of my colleague, Eileen O’Neill – women philosophers had a large influence on the development of Englightenment philosophy... Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interview Louise Antony

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Tactile

Tactile

You cannot work on the philosophy of biology or physics without detailed knowledge of those sciences. A philosophy of the special sciences approach to perception also requires detailed knowledge of the relevant psychology. The thing is, though, psychology is an indeterministic science, and many self-proclaimed naturalists in the philosophy of mind are statistical illiterates. Without an understanding of the relevant statistical evidence, confirmation bias is a real risk Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Mark Calderon.

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Dharmakīrti's Philosophy of Mind Among Other Things

Dharmakīrti's Philosophy of Mind Among Other Things

Jerry Fodor has aptly said that the availability of the computer metaphor represents “the only respect in which contemporary Cognitive Science represents a major advance” over the representational theories of mind upheld by its eighteenth- and nineteenth-century predecessors. I’d like to think that if Fodor had known Dharmakīrti’s philosophy, he might just as well have said that the availability of the computer metaphor represents the only really significant difference between his program and that of the 7th-century Buddhist Dharmakīrti. Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Dan Arnold.

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