The Absent Body
Drew Leder University of Chicago Press, 1990 Library of Congress B105.B64L43 1990 | Dewey Decimal 128.3
The body plays a central role in shaping our experience of the world. Why, then, are we so frequently oblivious to our own bodies? We gaze at the world, but rarely see our own eyes. We may be unable to explain how we perform the simplest of acts. We are even less aware of our internal organs and the physiological processes that keep us alive. In this fascinating work, Drew Leder examines all the ways in which the body is absent—forgotten, alien, uncontrollable, obscured.
In part 1, Leder explores a wide range of bodily functions with an eye to structures of concealment and alienation. He discusses not only perception and movement, skills and tools, but a variety of "bodies" that philosophers tend to overlook: the inner body with its anonymous rhythms; the sleeping body into which we nightly lapse; the prenatal body from which we first came to be. Leder thereby seeks to challenge "primacy of perception." In part 2, Leder shows how this phenomenology allows us to rethink traditional concepts of mind and body. Leder argues that Cartesian dualism exhibits an abiding power because it draws upon life-world experiences. Descartes' corpus is filled with disruptive bodies which can only be subdued by exercising "disembodied" reason. Leder explores the origins of this notion of reason as disembodied, focusing upon the hidden corporeality of language and thought. In a final chapter, Leder then proposes a new ethic of embodiment to carry us beyond Cartesianism.
This original, important, and accessible work uses examples from the author's medical training throughout. It will interest all those concerned with phenomenology, the philosophy of mind, or the Cartesian tradition; those working in the health care professions; and all those fascinated by the human body.
All too often, we think of our minds and bodies separately. The reality couldn’t be more different: the fundamental fact about our mind is that it is embodied. We have a deep visceral, emotional, and qualitative relationship to the world—and any scientifically and philosophically satisfactory view of the mind must take into account the ways that cognition, meaning, language, action, and values are grounded in and shaped by that embodiment.
This book gathers the best of philosopher Mark Johnson’s essays addressing questions of our embodiment as they deal with aesthetics—which, he argues, we need to rethink so that it takes into account the central role of body-based meaning. Viewed that way, the arts can give us profound insights into the processes of meaning making that underlie our conceptual systems and cultural practices. Johnson shows how our embodiment shapes our philosophy, science, morality, and art; what emerges is a view of humans as aesthetic, meaning-making creatures who draw on their deepest physical processes to make sense of the world around them.
Eugene Thacker University of Chicago Press, 2010 Library of Congress BD311.T43 2010 | Dewey Decimal 113.8
Life is one of our most basic concepts, and yet when examined directly it proves remarkably contradictory and elusive, encompassing both the broadest and the most specific phenomena. We can see this uncertainty about life in our habit of approaching it as something at once scientific and mystical, in the return of vitalisms of all types, and in the pervasive politicization of life. In short, life seems everywhere at stake and yet is nowhere the same.
In After Life, Eugene Thacker clears the ground for a new philosophy of life by recovering the twists and turns in its philosophical history. Beginning with Aristotle’s originary formulation of a philosophy of life, Thacker examines the influence of Aristotle’s ideas in medieval and early modern thought, leading him to the work of Immanuel Kant, who notes the inherently contradictory nature of “life in itself.” Along the way, Thacker shows how early modern philosophy’s engagement with the problem of life affects thinkers such as Gilles Deleuze, Georges Bataille, and Alain Badiou, as well as contemporary developments in the “speculative turn” in philosophy.
At a time when life is categorized, measured, and exploited in a variety of ways, After Life invites us to delve deeper into the contours and contradictions of the age-old question, “what is life?”
Do people with mental disorders share enough psychology with other people to make human interpretation possible? Jonathan Glover tackles the hard cases—violent criminals, people with delusions, autism, schizophrenia—to answer affirmatively. He offers values linked with agency and identity to guide how the boundaries of psychiatry should be drawn.
In Always More Than One, the philosopher, visual artist, and dancer Erin Manning explores the concept of the "more than human" in the context of movement, perception, and experience. Working from Whitehead's process philosophy and Simondon's theory of individuation, she extends the concepts of movement and relation developed in her earlier work toward the notion of "choreographic thinking." Here, she uses choreographic thinking to explore a mode of perception prior to the settling of experience into established categories. Manning connects this to the concept of "autistic perception," described by autistics as the awareness of a relational field prior to the so-called neurotypical tendency to "chunk" experience into predetermined subjects and objects. Autistics explain that, rather than immediately distinguishing objects—such as chairs and tables and humans—from one another on entering a given environment, they experience the environment as gradually taking form. Manning maintains that this mode of awareness underlies all perception. What we perceive is never first a subject or an object, but an ecology. From this vantage point, she proposes that we consider an ecological politics where movement and relation take precedence over predefined categories, such as the neurotypical and the neurodiverse, or the human and the nonhuman. What would it mean to embrace an ecological politics of collective individuation?
Is love best when it is fresh? For many, the answer is a resounding “yes.” The intense experiences that characterize new love are impossible to replicate, leading to wistful reflection and even a repeated pursuit of such ecstatic beginnings.
Aaron Ben-Ze’ev takes these experiences seriously, but he’s also here to remind us of the benefits of profound love—an emotion that can only develop with time. In The Arc of Love, he provides an in-depth, philosophical account of the experiences that arise in early, intense love—sexual passion, novelty, change—as well as the benefits of cultivating long-term, profound love—stability, development, calmness. Ben-Ze’ev analyzes the core of emotions many experience in early love and the challenges they encounter, and he offers pointers for weathering these challenges. Deploying the rigorous analysis of a philosopher, but writing clearly and in an often humorous style with an eye to lived experience, he takes on topics like compromise, commitment, polyamory, choosing a partner, online dating, and when to say “I love you.” Ultimately, Ben-Ze’ev assures us, while love is indeed best when fresh, if we tend to it carefully, it can become more delicious and nourishing even as time marches on.
Naturalism as a guiding philosophy for modern science both disavows any appeal to the supernatural or anything else transcendent to nature, and repudiates any philosophical or religious authority over the workings and conclusions of the sciences. A longstanding paradox within naturalism, however, has been the status of scientific knowledge itself, which seems, at first glance, to be something that transcends and is therefore impossible to conceptualize within scientific naturalism itself.
In Articulating the World, Joseph Rouse argues that the most pressing challenge for advocates of naturalism today is precisely this: to understand how to make sense of a scientific conception of nature as itself part of nature, scientifically understood. Drawing upon recent developments in evolutionary biology and the philosophy of science, Rouse defends naturalism in response to this challenge by revising both how we understand our scientific conception of the world and how we situate ourselves within it.
Aspects of Psychologism
Tim Crane Harvard University Press, 2014 Library of Congress BF41.C73 2014 | Dewey Decimal 150.1
Aspects of Psychologism is a penetrating look into fundamental philosophical questions of consciousness, perception, and the experience we have of our mental lives. Psychologism, in Tim Crane's formulation, presents the mind as a single subject-matter to be investigated not only empirically and conceptually but also phenomenologically: through the systematic examination of consciousness and thought from the subject's point of view.
How should we think about the mind? Analytical philosophy tends to address this question by examining the language we use to talk about our minds, and thus translates our knowledge of consciousness into knowledge of the concepts which this language embodies. Psychologism rejects this approach. The philosophy of mind, Crane contends, has become too narrow in its purely conceptual focus on the logical and linguistic formulas that structure thought. We cannot assume that the categories needed to understand the mind correspond absolutely with such semantic categories. Crane's claim is that intentionality--the "aboutness" or "directedness" of the mind--is essential to all mental phenomena. He criticizes materialist doctrines about consciousness and defends the position that perception can represent the world in a non-conceptual, non-propositional way, opening up philosophy to a more realistic account of the mind's nature.
Bodies In Technology
Don Ihde University of Minnesota Press, 2001 Library of Congress T14.I348 2002 | Dewey Decimal 601
An original exploration of the ways cyberspace affects human experience.
New technologies suggest new ideas about embodiment: our "reach" extends to global sites through the Internet; we enter cyberspace through the engines of virtual reality. In this book, a leading philosopher of technology explores the meaning of bodies in technology--how the sense of our bodies and of our orientation in the world is affected by the various information technologies.
Bodies in Technology begins with an analysis of embodiment in cyberspace, then moves on to consider ways in which social theorists have interpreted or overlooked these conditions. An astute and sensible judge of these theories, Don Ihde is a uniquely provocative and helpful guide through contemporary thinking about technology and embodiment, drawing on sources and examples as various as video games, popular films, the workings of e-mail, and virtual reality techniques.
Charting the historical, philosophical, and practical territory between virtual reality and real life, this work is an important contribution to the national conversation on the impact technology-and information technology in particular-has on our lives in a wired, global age.
Don Ihde is distinguished professor in the Department of Philosophy, and is also affiliated with the history of science and women's studies programs, at SUNY, Stony Brook
In medieval allegory, Body and Soul were often pitted against one another in debate. In Body Against Soul: Gender and Sowlehele in Middle English Allegory, Masha Raskolnikov argues that such debates function as a mode of thinking about psychology, gender, and power in the Middle Ages. Neither theological nor medical in nature, works of sowlehele (“soul-heal”) described the self to itself in everyday language—moderns might call this kind of writing “self-help.” Bringing together contemporary feminist and queer theory along with medieval psychological thought, Body Against Soul examines Piers Plowman, the “Katherine Group,” and the history of psychological allegory and debate. In so doing, it rewrites the history of the Body to include its recently neglected fellow, the Soul.
The topic of this book is one that runs through all of Western history and remains of primary interest to modern theorists—how “my” body relates to “me.” In the allegorical tradition traced by this study, a male person could imagine himself as a being populated by female personifications, because Latin and Romance languages tended to gender abstract nouns as female. However, since Middle English had ceased to inflect abstract nouns as male or female, writers were free to gender abstractions like “Will” or “Reason” any way they liked. This permitted some psychological allegories to avoid the representational tension caused by placing a female soul inside a male body, instead creating surprisingly queer same-sex inner worlds. The didactic intent driving sowlehele is, it turns out, complicated by the erotics of the struggle to establish a hierarchy of the self’s inner powers.
"There are books—few and far between—which carefully, delightfully, and genuinely turn your head inside out. This is one of them. It ranges over some central issues in Western philosophy and begins the long overdue job of giving us a radically new account of meaning, rationality, and objectivity."—Yaakov Garb, San Francisco Chronicle
The ancient Greeks used the term catharsis for the cleansing of both the body by medicine and the soul by art. In this inspiring book, internationally renowned cardiologist Andrzej Szczeklik draws deeply on our humanistic heritage to describe the artistry and the mystery of being a doctor. Moving between examples ancient and contemporary, mythological and scientific, Catharsis explores how medicine and art share common roots and pose common challenges.
The process of diagnosis, for instance, belongs to a world of magic and metaphor; the physician must embrace it like a poem or painting, with particular alertness and keen receptivity. Speculation on ways to slow aging through genetics, meanwhile, draws directly on the dream of immortality that artists and poets have nourished through the ages. And the concept of catharsis itself has made its way from the writings of Aristotle to today's growing interest in the benefits of music to health, especially in newborns. As Szczeklik explores such subjects as the mysteries of the heart rhythm, the secret history of pain relief, the enigmatic logic of epidemics, near-death or out-of-body experiences, and many more, he skillfully weaves together classical literature, the history of medicine, and moving anecdotes from his own clinical experiences. The result is a life-affirming book that will enrich the healing work of patients and doctors alike and make an invaluable contribution to our still-expanding vision of the art of medicine.
A renowned philosopher argues that singular causation in the mind is not grounded in general patterns of causation, a claim on behalf of human distinctiveness, which has implications for the future of social robots.
A blab droid is a robot with a body shaped like a pizza box, a pair of treads, and a smiley face. Guided by an onboard video camera, it roams hotel lobbies and conference centers, asking questions in the voice of a seven-year-old. “Can you help me?” “What is the worst thing you’ve ever done?” “Who in the world do you love most?” People pour their hearts out in response.
This droid prompts the question of what we can hope from social robots. Might they provide humanlike friendship? Philosopher John Campbell doesn’t think so. He argues that, while a social robot can remember the details of a person’s history better than some spouses can, it cannot empathize with the human mind, because it lacks the faculty for thinking in terms of singular causation.
Causation in Psychology makes the case that singular causation is essential and unique to the human species. From the point of view of practical action, knowledge of what generally causes what is often all one needs. But humans are capable of more. We have a capacity to imagine singular causation. Unlike robots and nonhuman animals, we don’t have to rely on axioms about pain to know how ongoing suffering is affecting someone’s ability to make decisions, for example, and this knowledge is not a derivative of general rules. The capacity to imagine singular causation, Campbell contends, is a core element of human freedom and of the ability to empathize with human thoughts and feelings.
The Cartesian cogito—the principle articulated by Descartes that "I think, therefore I am"—is often hailed as the precursor of modern science. At the same time, the cogito's agent, the ego, is sometimes feared as the agency of manipulative domination responsible for all present woes, from patriarchal oppression to ecological catastrophes. Without psychoanalyzing philosophy, Cogito and the Unconscious explores the vicissitudes of the cogito and shows that psychoanalyses can render visible a constitutive madness within modern philosophy, the point at which "I think, therefore I am" becomes obsessional neurosis characterized by "If I stop thinking, I will cease to exist."
Noting that for Lacan the Cartesian construct is the same as the Freudian "subject of the unconscious," the contributors follow Lacan's plea for a psychoanalytic return to the cogito. Along the path of this return, they examine the ethical attitude that befits modern subjectivity, the inherent sexualization of modern subjectivity, the impasse in which the Cartesian project becomes involved given the enigmatic status of the human body, and the Cartesian subject's confrontation with its modern critics, including Althusser, Bataille, and Dennett. In a style that has become familiar to Žižek's readers, these essays bring together a strict conceptual analysis and an approach to a wide range of cultural and ideological phenomena—from the sadist paradoxes of Kant's moral philosophy to the universe of Ayn Rand's novels, from the question "Which, if any, is the sex of the cogito?" to the defense of the cogito against the onslaught of cognitive sciences.
Challenging us to reconsider fundamental notions of human consciousness and modern subjectivity, this is a book whose very Lacanian orthodoxy makes it irreverently transgressive of predominant theoretical paradigms. Cogito and the Unconscious will appeal to readers interested in philosophy, psychoanalysis, cultural studies, and theories of ideology.
Contributors. Miran Bozovic, Mladen Dolar, Alain Grosrichard, Marc de Kessel, Robert Pfaller, Renata Salecl, Slavoj Žižek, Alenka Zupancic
How should we speak of bodies and souls? In Coming to Mind, Lenn E. Goodman and D. Gregory Caramenico pick their way through the minefields of materialist reductionism to present the soul not as the brain’s rival but as its partner. What acts, they argue, is what is real. The soul is not an ethereal wisp but a lively subject, emergent from the body but inadequately described in its terms.
Rooted in some of the richest philosophical and intellectual traditions of Western and Eastern philosophy, psychology, literature, and the arts and the latest findings of cognitive psychology and brain science—Coming to Mind is a subtle manifesto of a new humanism and an outstanding contribution to our understanding of the human person. Drawing on new and classical understandings of perception, consciousness, memory, agency, and creativity, Goodman and Caramenico frame a convincing argument for a dynamic and integrated self capable of language, thought, discovery, caring, and love.
This collection of essays on communicative theory and praxis from the eminent Merleau-Ponty scholar and translator John O'Neill explores the thesis that the human body is the exemplary ground of all other communicative processes.
The Concept of Mind
Gilbert Ryle University of Chicago Press, 2003 Library of Congress BF161.R9 2002 | Dewey Decimal 128.2
This now-classic work challenges what Ryle calls philosophy's "official theory," the Cartesians "myth" of the separation of mind and matter. Ryle's linguistic analysis remaps the conceptual geography of mind, not so much solving traditional philosophical problems as dissolving them into the mere consequences of misguided language. His plain language and esstentially simple purpose place him in the traditioin of Locke, Berkeley, Mill, and Russell.
Descartes's Concept of Mind
Lilli. ALANEN Harvard University Press, 2003 Library of Congress B1878.M55A43 2003 | Dewey Decimal 128.2092
Descartes's concept of the mind, as distinct from the body with which it forms a union, set the agenda for much of Western philosophy's subsequent reflection on human nature and thought. This is the first book to give an analysis of Descartes's pivotal concept that deals with all the functions of the mind, cognitive as well as volitional, theoretical as well as practical and moral. Focusing on Descartes's view of the mind as intimately united to and intermingled with the body, and exploring its implications for his philosophy of mind and moral psychology, Lilli Alanen argues that the epistemological and methodological consequences of this view have been largely misconstrued in the modern debate.
Informed by both the French tradition of Descartes scholarship and recent Anglo-American research, Alanen's book combines historical-contextual analysis with a philosophical problem-oriented approach. It seeks to relate Descartes's views on mind and intentionality both to contemporary debates and to the problems Descartes confronted in their historical context. By drawing out the historical antecedents and the intellectual evolution of Descartes's thinking about the mind, the book shows how his emphasis on the embodiment of the mind has implications far more complex and interesting than the usual dualist account suggests.
Descartes's Concept of Mind is a book of high quality. The main point of the project is to detail Descartes's theory of the embodiment of the human mind. This is a neglected side of his thought, and Alanen treats it in an illuminating way. The exposition is clear and remarkably well informed. And she persuasively shows that Descartes had a complicated and interesting view of this matter. --John Carriero, Professor of Philosophy, UCLA
"Words,"writes Chuang Tzu, "are for catching ideas; once you've caught the idea, you can forget the words." In Do Nothing, author Siroj Sorajjakool lends us some of his insightful words to help us all "catch" the provocative ideas of one of China's most important literary and philosophical giants—one who emerged at a time when China had several such giants philosophizing on Tao or "the Way."
Though his thinking dates back to the fourth century, Chuang Tzu's Tao has profound implications for our modern lives. He welcomes an existence that is radically removed from the image of normalcy that society often projects, wherein the individual must always strive for more, always seek greater productivity, and always try to better him or herself and his or her place in life. Chuang Tzu would posit that the definitions of normalcy, success, and happiness are arbitrarily assigned and that our rigid and unquestioning adherence to these so-called "norms" leads to existential restlessness and unease. Instead of striving, he would say, be still. Instead of acquiring, embrace nothingness. Instead of seeking to understand the limitlessness of the universe during your brief and extremely limited existence, enjoy the wonder of it.
Siroj Sorajjakool suggests that when we can embrace nothingness, we undergo a spiritual transformation that liberates us to see more clearly and truly find ourselves. He offers a very personal exploration of Chuang Tzu's Tao, first in its historical and literary context, and then in the context of our twenty-first century existence. What emerges is a liberating and highly readable meditation on the many lessons we can "catch" from Chuang Tzu on how we view our aspirations, our joys and sorrows, our successes and failures, and what it means to be a worthwhile person.
Mark Johnson is one of the great thinkers of our time on how the body shapes the mind. This book brings together a selection of essays from the past two decades that build a powerful argument that any scientifically and philosophically satisfactory view of mind and thought must ultimately explain how bodily perception and action give rise to cognition, meaning, language, action, and values.
A brief account of Johnson’s own intellectual journey, through which we track some of the most important discoveries in the field over the past forty years, sets the stage. Subsequent chapters set out Johnson’s important role in embodied cognition theory, including his cofounding (with George Lakoff) of conceptual metaphor theory and, later, their theory of bodily structures and processes that underlie all meaning, conceptualization, and reasoning. A detailed account of how meaning arises from our physical engagement with our environments provides the basis for a nondualistic, nonreductive view of mind that he sees as most congruous with the latest cognitive science. A concluding section explores the implications of our embodiment for our understanding of knowledge, reason, and truth. The resulting book will be essential for all philosophers dealing with mind, thought, and language.
Epistemic logic is the branch of philosophical thought that seeks to formalize the discourse about knowledge. Its object is to articulate and clarify the general principles of reasoning about claims to and attributions of knowledge. This comprehensive survey of the topic offers the first systematic account of the subject as it has developed in the journal literature over recent decades.
Rescher gives an overview of the discipline by setting out the general principles for reasoning about such matters as propositional knowledge and interrogative knowledge. Aimed at graduate students and specialists, Epistemic Logic elucidates both Rescher's pragmatic view of knowledge and the field in general.
Eros and Illness
David B. Morris Harvard University Press, 2017 Library of Congress R726.5.M666 2017 | Dewey Decimal 610
When we or our loved ones fall ill, our world is thrown into disarray, our routines are interrupted, our beliefs shaken. David Morris offers an unconventional, deeply human exploration of what it means to live with, and live through, disease. He shows how desire—emotions, dreams, stories, romance, even eroticism—plays a crucial part in illness.
The Erotic Phenomenon
Jean-Luc Marion University of Chicago Press, 2006 Library of Congress B2430.M283P4413 2007 | Dewey Decimal 128.46
While humanists have pondered the subject of love to the point of obsessiveness, philosophers have steadfastly ignored it. One might wonder whether the discipline of philosophy even recognizes love. The word philosophy means “love of wisdom,” but the absence of love from philosophical discourse is curiously glaring. So where did the love go? In The Erotic Phenomenon, Jean-Luc Marion asks this fundamental question of philosophy, while reviving inquiry into the concept of love itself.
Marion begins his profound and personal book with a critique of Descartes’ equation of the ego’s ability to doubt with the certainty that one exists—“I think, therefore I am”—arguing that this is worse than vain. We encounter being, he says, when we first experience love: I am loved, therefore I am; and this love is the reason I care whether I exist or not. This philosophical base allows Marion to probe several manifestations of love and its variations, including carnal excitement, self-hate, lying and perversion, fidelity, the generation of children, and the love of God. Throughout, Marion stresses that all erotic phenomena, including sentimentality, pornography, and even boasts about one’s sexual conquests, stem not from the ego as popularly understood but instead from love.
A thoroughly enlightening and captivating philosophical investigation of a strangely neglected subject, The Erotic Phenomenon is certain to initiate feverish new dialogue about the philosophical meanings of that most desirable and mysterious of all concepts—love.
Expression and the Inner
David H. FINKELSTEIN Harvard University Press, 2003 Library of Congress BD438.5.F525 2003 | Dewey Decimal 128.2
At least since Descartes, philosophers have been interested in the special knowledge or authority that we exhibit when we speak about our own thoughts, attitudes, and feelings. Expression and the Inner contends that even the best work in contemporary philosophy of mind fails to account for this sort of knowledge or authority because it does not pay the right sort of attention to the notion of expression. Following what he takes to be a widely misunderstood suggestion of Wittgenstein's, Finkelstein argues that we can make sense of self-knowledge and first-person authority only by coming to see the ways in which a self-ascription of, say, happiness (a person's saying or thinking, "I'm happy this morning") may be akin to a smile--akin, that is, to an expression of happiness. In so doing, Finkelstein contrasts his own reading of Wittgenstein's philosophy of mind with influential readings set out by John McDowell and Crispin Wright. By the final chapter of this lucid work, what's at stake is not only how to understand self-knowledge and first-person authority, but also what it is that distinguishes conscious from unconscious psychological states, what the mental life of a nonlinguistic animal has in common with our sort of mental life, and how to think about Wittgenstein's legacy to the philosophy of mind.
Table of Contents:
I. DETECTIVISM AND CONSTITUTIVISM
1. Detectivism 1.1. Old Detectivism 1.2. New Detectivism 1.3. A Dialogue
2. Constitutivism 2.1. "A Kind of Decision" 2.2. Interpretation and Stipulation 2.3. The Responsibility Objection
3. Between Detectivism and Constitutivism 3.1. Experience and the Logical Space of Reasons 3.2. The Middle Path 3.3. When a Dog Feels Pain 3.4. The Phantom Smell Objection 3.5. Back to Detectivism?
4. Meaning, Expression, and Expressivism 4.1. Meaning 4.2. Expression 4.3. Expressivism
5. Authority and Consciousness 5.1. A Three-Paragraph Account of First-Person Authority 5.2. Other Varieties of First-Person Authority 5.3. Expression and Context 5.4. Conscious or Unconscious 5.5. Between Conscious and Unconscious 5.6. The Logical Space of Animate Life
6. Sensations, Animals, and Knowledge 6.1. "But Isn't the Beginning the Sensation--Which I Describe?" 6.2. "It Is Not a Something, but Not a Nothing Either!" 6.3. The Mental as Such 6.4. Self-Knowledge?
Postscript: Deliberation and Transparency
Abbreviations Used in This Book References Index
This book is an important contribution to a group of problems which have a central place in philosophy of mind. Here I am taking "philosophy of mind" in a broad sense; Finkelstein's book and the problems he discusses have implications for philosophy of language, metaphysics, and epistemology. The book is written with intelligence and verve. Very few works in philosophy have anything describable as "narrative tension," but Finkelstein's certainly does. He draws the reader into the problems he is attempting to solve with the skill of a writer of detective stories; he leads his readers down paths that appear inviting, only then to demonstrate why the apparent solutions on offer down those paths won't do; and his arguments for the solution he himself offers at the end have the force, and the place in the book, of the denouement of a good thriller. --Cora Diamond, Professor of Philosophy, University of Virginia
This is an excellent product of philosophical reflection. --Jennifer Hornsby, Professor of Philosophy, University of London
What begins as a discussion of a somewhat suburban issue in the philosophy of mindÃ¢â‚¬"the problem of first-person authorityÃ¢â‚¬"turns out to have surprisingly far-reaching implications. Expression and the Inner brings out the fatefulness of a host of deeply entrenched assumptions about a wide range of philosophical topicsÃ¢â‚¬"topics such as what it takes to understand an utterance or to read a facial expression, the relation between sentience and sapience, the nature of psychoanalytic discovery, and the character of an animal's mental life. Finkelstein shows that making sense of first-person authority requires that one give up these assumptions and that doing so transforms the entire landscape of philosophy of mind in a dramatically illuminating way. Many of the book's central arguments draw upon Wittgenstein's writings. It is a strange feature of contemporary philosophy of mind that Wittgenstein is usually taken to have been among the most significant philosophers of the twentieth century, and much of his writing concerns philosophy of mind, yet we have no good understanding of what the importance of his work for philosophy of mind really is. This book is a major contribution to filling that gap. In the scope of its reach, the extent of its ambition, the thoroughness of its conception, and the elegance of its presentation, it is an exemplary piece of philosophy. --James Conant, Professor of Philosophy, University of Chicago
This delightful book takes the reader on an entertaining tour of some of the key issues in the philosophy of mind and language, while offering an appealing new account of self knowledge and consciousness. I loved this book! --Martha J. Farah, Professor of Psychology and Director of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Pennsylvania
One of the most provocative projects in recent analytic philosophy has been the development of the doctrine of externalism, or, as it is often called, anti-individualism. While there is no agreement as to whether externalism is true or not, a number of recent investigations have begun to explore the question of what follows if it is true. One of the most interesting of these investigations thus far has been the question of whether externalism has consequences for the doctrine that we have authoritative, a priori self-knowledge of our mental states.
The selected works presented in this volume, some previously published, some new, are representative of this debate and open up new questions and issues for philosophical investigation, including the connection between externalism, self-knowledge, epistemic warrant, and memory.
Barbara Stafford is a pioneering art historian whose research has long helped to bridge the divide between the humanities and cognitive sciences. In A Field Guide to a New Meta-Field, she marshals a distinguished group of thinkers to forge a ground-breaking dialogue between the emerging brain sciences, the liberal arts, and social sciences.
Stafford’s book examines meaning and mental function from this dual experimental perspective. The wide-ranging essays included here—from Frank Echenhofer’s foray into shamanist hallucinogenic visions to David Bashwiner’s analysis of emotion and danceability—develop a common language for implementing programmatic and institutional change. Demonstrating how formerly divided fields are converging around shared issues, A Field Guide to a New Meta-Field maps a high-level, crossdisciplinary adventure from one of our leading figures in visual studies.
Of all the senses, touch is the most ineffable—and the most neglected in Western culture, all but ignored by philosophers and artists over millennia. Yet it is also the sense that links us most intimately to the world around us, from our mother’s caress when we’re born to the gentle lowering of our eyelids after death.
The Forgotten Sense gives touch its due, addressing it in multifarious ways through a series of six essays. Literary in feel, ambitious in conception, admirable in their range of reference and insight, these meditations address questions fundamental to the understanding of touch: What do we mean when we say that an artwork touches us? How does language affect our understanding of touch? Is the skin the deepest part of the human body? Can we philosophize about a kiss? To aid him in answering these questions, Pablo Maurette recruits an impressive roster of cultural figures from throughout history: Homer, Lucretius, Chrétien de Troyes, Melville, Sir Thomas Browne, Knausgaard, Michel Henry and many others help him unfurl the underestimated importance of the sense of touch and tactile experience.
The resulting book is essay writing at its best—exploratory, surprising, dazzling, a reading experience like no other. You will come away from it with a new appreciation of touch, and a new way of understanding our interactions with the world around us.
Foucault and the Government of Disability considers the continued relevance of Foucault to disability studies, as well as the growing significance of disability studies to understandings of Foucault. A decade ago, this international collection provocatively responded to Foucault’s call to question what is regarded as natural, inevitable, ethical, and liberating. The book’s contributors draw on Foucault to scrutinize a range of widely endorsed practices and ideas surrounding disability, including rehabilitation, community care, impairment, normality and abnormality, inclusion, prevention, accommodation, and special education. In this revised and expanded edition, four new essays extend and elaborate the lines of inquiry by problematizing (to use Foucault’s term) the epistemological, political, and ethical character of the supercrip, the racialized war on autism, the performativity of intellectual disability, and the potent mixture of neoliberalism and biopolitics in the context of physician-assisted suicide.
“[A]n important, prescient, and necessary contribution…a kind of litmus test for the efficacy of Foucault’s concepts in the study of disability, concepts that lead to a refusal of the biological essentialism implied in the disability/impairment binary.”
“Tremain has done an exceptional job at organizing and procuring important, rigorously argued, and entertaining essays…. This book should be a mandatory read for anyone interested in contemporary philosophical debates surrounding the experience of disability."
—Essays in Philosophy
“A beautiful exploration of how Foucault’s analytics of power and genealogies of discursive knowledges can open up new avenues for thinking critically about phenomena that many of us take to be inevitable and thus new ways of resisting and possibly at times redirecting the forces that shape our lives. Every scholar, every person with an interest in Foucault or in political theory generally, needs to read this book.”
—Ladelle McWhorter, University of Richmond
Foucault and the Government of Disability is the first book-length investigation of the relevance and importance of the ideas of Michel Foucault to the field of disability studies-and vice versa. Over the last thirty years, politicized conceptions of disability have precipitated significant social change, including the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, the redesign of urban landscapes, the appearance of closed-captioning on televisions, and the growing recognition that disabled people constitute a marginalized and disenfranchised constituency.
The provocative essays in this volume respond to Foucault's call to question what is regarded as natural, inevitable, ethical, and liberating, while they challenge established understandings of Foucault's analyses and offer fresh approaches to his work. The book's roster of distinguished international contributors represents a broad range of disciplines and perspectives, making this a timely and necessary addition to the burgeoning field of disability studies.
Freedom and the Human Person
Richard Velkley Catholic University of America Press, 2007 Library of Congress B824.4.F735 2007 | Dewey Decimal 123.5
The present collection seeks to contribute toward finding that distance by making the tradition of thought more a living reality and not an object of arid analyses. Unlike most collections the present one transcends disciplinary boundaries, as it acknowledges the interconnectedness of philosophical, theological, and political arguments on these themes.
It’s a question that has puzzled philosophers and theologians for centuries and is at the heart of numerous political, social, and personal concerns: Do we have free will? In this cogent and compelling book, Julian Baggini explores the concept of free will from every angle, blending philosophy, sociology, and cognitive science to find rich new insights on the intractable questions that have plagued us. Are we products of our culture, or free agents within it? Are our neural pathways fixed early on by a mixture of nature and nurture, or is the possibility of comprehensive, intentional psychological change always open to us? And what, exactly, are we talking about when we talk about “freedom” anyway?
Freedom Regained brings the issues raised by the possibilities—and denials—of free will to thought-provoking life, drawing on scientific research and fascinating encounters with everyone from artists to prisoners to dissidents. He looks at what it means for us to be material beings in a universe of natural laws. He asks if there is any difference between ourselves and the brains from which we seem never able to escape. He throws down the wildcards and plays them to the fullest: What about art? What about addiction? What about twins? And he asks, of course, what this all means for politics.
Ultimately, Baggini challenges those who think free will is an illusion. Moving from doubt to optimism to a hedged acceptance of free will, he ultimately lands on a satisfying conclusion: it is something we earn. The result is a highly engaging, new, and more positive understanding of our sense of personal freedom, a freedom that is definitely worth having.
Since antiquity, philosophers and engineers have tried to take life’s measure by reproducing it. Aiming to reenact Creation, at least in part, these experimenters have hoped to understand the links between body and spirit, matter and mind, mechanism and consciousness. Genesis Redux examines moments from this centuries-long experimental tradition: efforts to simulate life in machinery, to synthesize life out of material parts, and to understand living beings by comparison with inanimate mechanisms.
Jessica Riskin collects seventeen essays from distinguished scholars in several fields. These studies offer an unexpected and far-reaching result: attempts to create artificial life have rarely been driven by an impulse to reduce life and mind to machinery. On the contrary, designers of synthetic creatures have generally assumed a role for something nonmechanical. The history of artificial life is thus also a history of theories of soul and intellect.
Taking a historical approach to a modern quandary, Genesis Redux is essential reading for historians and philosophers of science and technology, scientists and engineers working in artificial life and intelligence, and anyone engaged in evaluating these world-changing projects.
Gesture and Thought
David McNeill University of Chicago Press, 2005 Library of Congress P117.M359 2005
Gesturing is such an integral yet unconscious part of communication that we are mostly oblivious to it. But if you observe anyone in conversation, you are likely to see his or her fingers, hands, and arms in some form of spontaneous motion. Why? David McNeill, a pioneer in the ongoing study of the relationship between gesture and language, set about answering this question over twenty-five years ago. In Gesture and Thought he brings together years of this research, arguing that gesturing, an act which has been popularly understood as an accessory to speech, is actually a dialectical component of language. Gesture and Thought expands on McNeill’s acclaimed classic Hand and Mind. While that earlier work demonstrated what gestures reveal about thought, here gestures are shown to be active participants in both speaking and thinking. Expanding on an approach introduced by Lev Vygotsky in the 1930s, McNeill posits that gestures are key ingredients in an “imagery-language dialectic” that fuels both speech and thought. Gestures are both the “imagery” and components of “language.” The smallest element of this dialectic is the “growth point,” a snapshot of an utterance at its beginning psychological stage. Utilizing several innovative experiments he created and administered with subjects spanning several different age, gender, and language groups, McNeill shows how growth points organize themselves into utterances and extend to discourse at the moment of speaking.
An ambitious project in the ongoing study of the relationship of human communication and thought, Gesture and Thought is a work of such consequence that it will influence all subsequent theory on the subject.
For over thirty years, Stephen Braude has studied the paranormal in everyday life, from extrasensory perception and psychokinesis to mediumship and materialization. The Gold Leaf Lady and Other Parapsychological Investigations is a highly readable and often amusing account of his most memorable encounters with such phenomena. Here Braude recounts in fascinating detail five particular cases—some that challenge our most fundamental scientific beliefs and others that expose our own credulousness.
Braude begins with a south Florida woman who can make thin gold-colored foil appear spontaneously on her skin. He then travels to New York and California to test psychokinetic superstars—and frauds—like Joe Nuzum, who claim to move objects using only their minds. Along the way, Braude also investigates the startling allegations of K.R., a policeman in Annapolis who believes he can transfer images from photographs onto other objects—including his own body—and Ted Serios, a deceased Chicago elevator operator who could make a variety of different images appear on Polaroid film. Ultimately, Braude considers his wife’s surprisingly fruitful experiments with astrology, which she has used to guide professional soccer teams to the top of their leagues, as well as his own personal experiences with synchronicity—a phenomenon, he argues, that may need to be explained in terms of a refined, extensive, and dramatic form of psychokinesis.
Heady, provocative, and brimming with eye-opening details and suggestions, The Gold Leaf Lady and Other Parapsychological Investigations will intrigue both adherents and detractors of its controversial subject matter alike.
Just as Aristotelian metaphysics provided a new basis for the natural theology of Aquinas’s time, so too, positive psychology provides a basis for a natural moral theology in our own time. this book marshals the empirically verifiable findings of positive psychology that show the wisdom of the Christian tradition. Christian warnings about the dangers of greed, coveting a neighbor’s goods (social comparison), and pride find an empirical verification. Likewise, positive psychology vindicates the wisdom of Christian teaching on the importance of forgiveness, of gratitude, of humility, and of serving one’s neighbor. moreover, positive psychology also can be a service to Christian believers by helping them in their struggles with willpower, by providing new motivations for prayer, and by helping them identify their signature strengths. Finally, this book argues, in a variety of ways, that it is folly to think that even the best of psychology can serve as a replacement for Christianity.
A. A. Long’s study of Greek notions of mind and human selfhood is anchored in questions of universal interest. What happens to us when we die? How is the mind or soul related to the body? Are we responsible for our own happiness? Can we achieve autonomy? Long shows that Greek thinkers’ modeling of the mind gave us metaphors that we still live by.
At the core of Swedenborg’s thought is the understanding that our purpose in this life is to progress spiritually—to learn, to grow, to do good works, and, ultimately, to allow as much of God’s love as possible to enter into us and manifest through us.
Scattered throughout his works are descriptions of our mind and how it relates to both the physical and spiritual worlds. In this book, Taylor pulls these loose threads together and weaves them into a simple, coherent whole, presenting Swedenborg’s teachings as a system that anyone can follow. Taylor describes the external or natural mind as primarily concerned with material things, and the inner mind, in its essence, as love. As we elevate our thoughts toward higher and higher types of love and wisdom, we draw closer to God and begin the process of regeneration, or rebirth as spiritual beings.
This is the first time in many decades that a book has been published on Swedenborg’s philosophy of the mind. Taylor’s straightforward commentary gives readers a rare insight into this crucial aspect of Swedenborg’s theology.
We are now acutely aware, as if all of the sudden, that data matters enormously to how we live. How did information come to be so integral to what we can do? How did we become people who effortlessly present our lives in social media profiles and who are meticulously recorded in state surveillance dossiers and online marketing databases? What is the story behind data coming to matter so much to who we are?
In How We Became Our Data, Colin Koopman excavates early moments of our rapidly accelerating data-tracking technologies and their consequences for how we think of and express our selfhood today. Koopman explores the emergence of mass-scale record keeping systems like birth certificates and social security numbers, as well as new data techniques for categorizing personality traits, measuring intelligence, and even racializing subjects. This all culminates in what Koopman calls the “informational person” and the “informational power” we are now subject to. The recent explosion of digital technologies that are turning us into a series of algorithmic data points is shown to have a deeper and more turbulent past than we commonly think. Blending philosophy, history, political theory, and media theory in conversation with thinkers like Michel Foucault, Jürgen Habermas, and Friedrich Kittler, Koopman presents an illuminating perspective on how we have come to think of our personhood—and how we can resist its erosion.
(1) Science, (2) philosophy, and (3) poetry, myth, and mysticism are three modes of consciousness that are radically different today. We are usually very good at carefully distinguishing them so as not to corrupt them, reduce them, or to confuse them with each other. But almost no one tries to connect them in a synthesis in which each maintains its own identity yet each contributes to a greater whole that no one of them could attain alone – like a happy marriage. If we bring them together at all, it is only to focus in three different ways on a specific issue (like health care, or children’s literature, or gender roles). If Einstein Had Been a Surfer dares to do it for Everything, or rather for a “Theory of Everything” that only scientists today dare to talk about. But how can a “theory of the whole” be discovered by a brain that is less than a whole brain?
In this book all three dimensions of consciousness not only speak about a “theory of everything” but speak to each other in dialog. The three voices are incarnated in three characters from an upcoming novel, An Ocean Full of Angels: Evan Jellema is a theoretical physicist (and a clumsy Dutchman), ’Isa Ben Adam is a philosophical Muslim (and cantankerously clear), and Libby Rawls is a poet, mystic, and surfer (and a sassy, classy Black feminist).
Isn’t “surfer” a bit of a stretch? Not at all. Actually, the papers reported last year that an amateur scientist has in fact finally discovered, or claimed to have discovered, the “theory of everything” that Einstein failed to find and that scientists have been searching for ever since – and he is a surfer! Perhaps this is no accident, but a natural connection: the mind of the “soul surfer,” having become one with the sea, has awakened its “third eye” which alone gives the scientist the binocular vision, the synoptic perspective, that he lacks. And perhaps only a philosopher can mediate the two other modes of vision, as Aquinas mediated and synthesized the science of Albert the Great and Aristotle with the poetry and symbolism of mystics like Augustine.
This lively trialog, full of irony, intellectual surprise, and humor, is a serious call for a post-medieval synthesis. It does not claim to have arrived anywhere near the end of a journey to a “Theory of Everything,” only to have begun it. Even that modest ambition will certainly be criticized a priori as impossibly ambitious. Does that tell you anything about the book, or does it tell you something about the critic?
Holism maintains that a phenomenon is more than the sum of its parts. Yet analysis--a mental process crucial to comprehension--involves dismantling the whole to grasp it piecemeal and relationally. Wading through such quandaries, Vincent Descombes guides readers to a deepened appreciation of the entity that enables understanding: the human mind.
Whitehead's magnum opus is as important as it is difficult. It is the only work in which his metaphysical ideas are stated systematically and completely, and his metaphysics are the heart of his philosophical system as a whole. Sherburne has rearranged the text in a way designed to lead the student logically and coherently through the intricacies of the system without losing the vigor of Whitehead's often brilliant prose.
"The Key renders Process and Reality pedagogically accessible for the first time."—Journal of Religion
The fifteen papers in this volume deal with the two overlapping topics of knowledge and experience from the perspective of analytic philosophical inquiry. The topics addressed are prominent in the work of such modern philosophers as Ludwig Wittgenstein, Bertrand Russell, C. I. Lewis, Gilbert Ryle, A. J. Ayer, and John L. Austin.
Contributors include: Hector-Neri Castañeda, Newton Garver, Arthur N. Prior, John R. Searle, G. J. Warnock, with commentary by Paul Benacerraf, V. C. Chappell, Carl Ginet, F. A. Siegler, James F. Thomson, Zeno Vendler, and Paul Ziff.
An attempt to develop a theory of knowledge and philosophy of mind using ideas derived from the mathematical theory of communication developed by Claude Shannon. Information is seen as an objective commodity defined by the dependency relations between distinct events. Knowledge is then analyzed as information caused belief. Perception is the delivery of information caused belief. Perception is the delivery of information in analog form (experience) for conceptual utilization by cognitive mechanisms. The final chapters attempt to develop a theory of meaning (or belief content) by viewing meaning as a certain kind of information-carrying role.
This bilingual volume—English and German on facing pages—brings together the writings Wittgenstein composed during his stay in Dublin between October 1948 and March 1949, one of his most fruitful periods. He later drew more than half of his remarks for Part II of Philosophical Investigations from this Dublin manuscript. A direct continuation of the writing that makes up the two volumes of Remarks on the Philosophy of Psychology, this collection offers scholars a glimpse of Wittgenstein's preliminary thinking on one of his most important works.
G. H. von Wright and Heikki Nyman both teach at the University of Helsinki.
Living with Robots
Paul Dumouchel Harvard University Press, 2017 Library of Congress TJ211.D85513 2017 | Dewey Decimal 303.483
Living with Robots recounts a foundational shift in robotics, from artificial intelligence to artificial empathy, and foreshadows an inflection point in human evolution. As robots engage with people in socially meaningful ways, social robotics probes the nature of the human emotions that social robots are designed to emulate.
The Logical Alien
Sofia Miguens Harvard University Press, 2019 Library of Congress BC71.L64 2019 | Dewey Decimal 160
Is our logical form of thought merely one among many, or must it be the form of thought as such? From Kant to Wittgenstein, philosophers have wrestled with variants of this question. This volume brings together nine distinguished thinkers on the subject, including James Conant, author of the seminal paper “The Search for Logically Alien Thought.”
The Matter of Disability returns disability to its proper place as an ongoing historical process of corporeal, cognitive, and sensory mutation operating in a world of dynamic, even cataclysmic, change. The book’s contributors offer new theorizations of human and nonhuman embodiments and their complex evolutions in our global present, in essays that explore how disability might be imagined as participant in the “complex elaboration of difference,” rather than something gone awry in an otherwise stable process. This alternative approach to materiality sheds new light on the capacities that exist within the depictions of disability that the book examines, including Spider-Man, Of Mice and Men, and Bloodchild.
This volume comprises a lively and thorough discussion between philosophers and Tyler Burge about Burge's recent, and already widely accepted, position in the theory of meaning, mind, and knowledge. This position is embodied by an externalist theory of meaning and an anti-individualist theory of mind and approach to self-knowledge.
The authors of the eleven papers here expound their versions of this position and go on to critique Burge's version. Together with Burge's replies, this volume offers a major contribution to contemporary philosophy.
In this book, Julius M. Moravcsik disputes that a natural language is not and should not be represented as a formal language. The book criticizes current philosophy of language as having an altered focus without adjusting the needed conceptual tools. It develops a new theory of lexical meaning, a new conception of cognition-humans not as information processing creatures but as primarily explanation and understanding seeking creatures-with information processing as a secondary, derivative activity. In conclusion, based on the theories of lexical meaning and cognition, this work sketches an argument showing that the human understanding of human understanding must always remain just partial.
In The Meaning of the Body, Mark Johnson continues his pioneering work on the exciting connections between cognitive science, language, and meaning first begun in the classic Metaphors We Live By. Johnson uses recent research into infant psychology to show how the body generates meaning even before self-consciousness has fully developed. From there he turns to cognitive neuroscience to further explore the bodily origins of meaning, thought, and language and examines the many dimensions of meaning—including images, qualities, emotions, and metaphors—that are all rooted in the body’s physical encounters with the world. Drawing on the psychology of art and pragmatist philosophy, Johnson argues that all of these aspects of meaning-making are fundamentally aesthetic. He concludes that the arts are the culmination of human attempts to find meaning and that studying the aesthetic dimensions of our experience is crucial to unlocking meaning's bodily sources.
Throughout, Johnson puts forth a bold new conception of the mind rooted in the understanding that philosophy will matter to nonphilosophers only if it is built on a visceral connection to the world.
“Mark Johnson demonstrates that the aesthetic and emotional aspects of meaning are fundamental—central to conceptual meaning and reason, and that the arts show meaning-making in its fullest realization. If you were raised with the idea that art and emotion were external to ideas and reason, you must read this book. It grounds philosophy in our most visceral experience.”—George Lakoff, author of Moral Politics
Metaphors We Live By
George Lakoff and Mark Johnson University of Chicago Press, 2003 Library of Congress P106.L235 2003 | Dewey Decimal 401
The now-classic Metaphors We Live By changed our understanding of metaphor and its role in language and the mind. Metaphor, the authors explain, is a fundamental mechanism of mind, one that allows us to use what we know about our physical and social experience to provide understanding of countless other subjects. Because such metaphors structure our most basic understandings of our experience, they are "metaphors we live by"—metaphors that can shape our perceptions and actions without our ever noticing them.
In this updated edition of Lakoff and Johnson's influential book, the authors supply an afterword surveying how their theory of metaphor has developed within the cognitive sciences to become central to the contemporary understanding of how we think and how we express our thoughts in language.
The Middle Included is the first comprehensive account of the Ancient Greek word logos in Aristotelian philosophy. Logos means many things in the Aristotelian corpus: essential formula, proportion, reason, and language. Surveying these meanings in Aristotle’s logic, physics, and ethics, Ömer Aygün persuasively demonstrates that these divers meanings of logos all refer to a basic sense of “gathering” or “inclusiveness.” In this sense, logos functions as a counterpart to a formal version of the principles of non-contradiction and of the excluded middle in his corpus. Aygün thus shifts Aristotle’s traditional image from that of the father of formal logic, classificatory thinking, and exclusion to a more nuanced image of him as a thinker of inclusion.
The Middle Included also explores human language in Aristotelian philosophy. After an account of acoustic phenomena and animal communication, Aygün argues that human language for Aristotle is the ability to understand and relay both first-hand experiences and non-first-hand experiences. This definition is key to understanding many core human experiences such as science, history, news media, education, sophistry, and indeed philosophy itself. Logos is thus never associated with any other animal nor with anything divine—it remains strictly and rigorously secular, humane, and yet full of the wonder.
Modern philosophy finds it difficult to give a satisfactory picture of the place of minds in the world. In Mind and World, one of the most distinguished philosophers writing today offers his diagnosis of this difficulty and points to a cure.
Mind in Life
Evan Thompson Harvard University Press, 2010 Library of Congress B808.9.T45 2007 | Dewey Decimal 128.2
How is life related to the mind? Thompson explores this so-called explanatory gap between biological life and consciousness, drawing on sources as diverse as molecular biology, evolutionary theory, artificial life, complex systems theory, neuroscience, psychology, Continental Phenomenology, and analytic philosophy. Ultimately he shows that mind and life are more continuous than previously accepted, and that current explanations do not adequately address the myriad facets of the biology and phenomenology of mind.
Mind, Matter, and Nature
James D. Madden Catholic University of America Press, 2013 Library of Congress BD418.3.M3525 2013 | Dewey Decimal 128.2
Written for students, Mind, Matter, and Nature presumes no prior philosophical training on the part of the reader. The book nevertheless holds the arguments discussed to rigorous standards and is conversant with recent literature, thus making it useful as well to more advanced students and professionals interested in a resource on Thomistic hylomorphism in the philosophy of mind.
What is mind? Still harder, what is consciousness? In this radical new book, eminent philosopher Ted Honderich tackles this great mystery in philosophy, psychology, neuroscience—and the rest of life. He proposes to replace all competing theories of consciousness with actualism that rests on data you share yourself.
Unlike other theories, actualism differentiates among the three sides of consciousness—consciousness that is seeing, consciousness that is thinking, and consciousness that is wanting. Consciousness in seeing is not an image or picture in your head, but the existence out there of a real but subjective thing, dependent on both the objective physical world out there and on you as a person. In its attention to the concrete, actualism is becoming increasingly popular among philosophers, psychologists, and neuroscientists who had previously declared an urgent need for a new theory.
Honderich’s readable, understandable, and unpretentious writing lays out these bold concepts and complex thoughts with clarity and verve. He reinvents our understanding of ourselves, our consciousness, and our mind.
What is the difference between right and wrong? This is no easy question to answer, yet we constantly try to make it so, frequently appealing to some hidden cache of cut-and-dried absolutes, whether drawn from God, universal reason, or societal authority. Combining cognitive science with a pragmatist philosophical framework in Morality for Humans:Ethical Understanding from the Perspective of Cognitive Science, Mark Johnson argues that appealing solely to absolute principles and values is not only scientifically unsound but even morally suspect. He shows that the standards for the kinds of people we should be and how we should treat one another—which we often think of as universal—are in fact frequently subject to change. And we should be okay with that. Taking context into consideration, he offers a remarkably nuanced, naturalistic view of ethics that sees us creatively adapt our standards according to given needs, emerging problems, and social interactions.
Ethical naturalism is not just a revamped form of relativism. Indeed, Johnson attempts to overcome the absolutist-versus-relativist impasse that has been one of the most intractable problems in the history of philosophy. He does so through a careful and inclusive look at the many ways we reason about right and wrong. Much of our moral thought, he shows, is automatic and intuitive, gut feelings that we follow up and attempt to justify with rational analysis and argument. However, good moral deliberation is not limited merely to intuitive judgments supported after the fact by reasoning. Johnson points out a crucial third element: we imagine how our decisions will play out, how we or the world would change with each action we might take. Plumbing this imaginative dimension of moral reasoning, he provides a psychologically sophisticated view of moral problem solving, one perfectly suited for the embodied, culturally embedded, and ever-developing human creatures that we are.
A bold philosophical investigation into technology and the limits of the human
A daring, original work of philosophical speculation, Neurotechnology and the End of Finitude mounts a sustained investigation into the possibility that human beings may technologically overcome the transcendental limits of possible experience and envisages what such a transition would look like. Focusing on emergent neurotechnologies, which establish a direct channel of communication between brain and machine, Michael Haworth argues that such technologies intervene at the border between interiority and exteriority, offering the promise of immediacy and the possibility of the mind directly affecting the outside world or even other minds.
Through detailed, targeted readings of Kant, Freud, Heidegger, Croce, Jung, and Derrida, Haworth explores the effect of this transformation on human creativity and our relationships with others. He pursues these questions across four distinct but interrelated spheres: the act of artistic creation and the potential for a technologically enabled coincidence of idea and object; the possibility of humanity achieving the infinite creativity that Kant attributed only to God; the relationship between the psyche and the external world in Freudian psychoanalysis and Jungian analytical psychology; and the viability and impact of techno-telepathic communication.
Addressing readers interested in contemporary continental philosophy and philosophy of technology, media and communications, and science and technology studies, Neurotechnology and the End of Finitude critically envisions a plausible posthuman future.
This volume is a critical edition of the 1587 treatise by Oliva Sabuco, New Philosophy of Human Nature, written during the Spanish Inquisition. Puzzled by medicine’s abject failure to find a cure for the plague, Sabuco developed a new theory of human nature as the foundation for her remarkably modern holistic philosophy of medicine.
Fifty years before Descartes, Sabuco posited a dualism that accounted for mind/body interaction. She was first among the moderns to argue that the brain--not the heart--controls the body. Her account also anticipates the role of cerebrospinal fluid, the relationship between mental and physical health, and the absorption of nutrients through digestion. This extensively annotated translation features an ample introduction demonstrating the work’s importance to the history of science, philosophy of medicine, and women’s studies.
In this pathbreaking philosophical work, Elizabeth Grosz points the way toward a theory of becoming to replace the prevailing ontologies of being in social, political, and biological discourse. Arguing that theories of temporality have significant and underappreciated relevance to the social dimensions of science and the political dimensions of struggle, Grosz engages key theoretical concerns related to the reality of time. She explores the effect of time on the organization of matter and on the emergence and development of biological life. Considering how the relentless forward movement of time might be conceived in political and social terms, she begins to formulate a model of time that incorporates the future and its capacity to supersede and transform the past and present.
Grosz develops her argument by juxtaposing the work of three major figures in Western thought: Charles Darwin, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Henri Bergson. She reveals that in theorizing time as an active, positive phenomenon with its own characteristics and specific effects, each of these thinkers had a profound effect on contemporary understandings of the body in relation to time. She shows how their allied concepts of life, evolution, and becoming are manifest in the work of Gilles Deleuze and Luce Irigaray. Throughout The Nick of Time, Grosz emphasizes the political and cultural imperative to fundamentally rethink time: the more clearly we understand our temporal location as beings straddling the past and the future without the security of a stable and abiding present, the more transformation becomes conceivable.
No Morality, No Self
James Doyle Harvard University Press, 2017 Library of Congress B1618.A574D69 2017 | Dewey Decimal 126
Elizabeth Anscombe’s “Modern Moral Philosophy” and “The First Person” have become touchstones of analytic philosophy but their significance remains controversial or misunderstood. James Doyle offers a fresh interpretation of Anscombe’s theses about ethical reasoning and individual identity that reconciles seemingly incompatible points of view.
A Times Higher Education Book of the Week
Judith Butler elucidates the dynamics of public assembly under prevailing economic and political conditions, analyzing what they signify and how. Understanding assemblies as plural forms of performative action, Butler extends her theory of performativity to argue that precarity—the destruction of the conditions of livability—has been a galvanizing force and theme in today’s highly visible protests.
“Butler’s book is everything that a book about our planet in the 21st century should be. It does not turn its back on the circumstances of the material world or give any succour to those who wish to view the present (and the future) through the lens of fantasies about the transformative possibilities offered by conventional politics Butler demonstrates a clear engagement with an aspect of the world that is becoming in many political contexts almost illicit to discuss: the idea that capitalism, certainly in its neoliberal form, is failing to provide a liveable life for the majority of human beings.”
—Mary Evans, Times Higher Education
“A heady immersion into the thought of one of today’s most profound philosophers of action…This is a call for a truly transformative politics, and its relevance to the fraught struggles taking place in today’s streets and public spaces around the world cannot be denied.”
—Hans Rollman, PopMatters
Novel Bodies examines how disability shapes the British literary history of sexuality. Jason Farr shows that various eighteenth-century novelists represent disability and sexuality in flexible ways to reconfigure the political and social landscapes of eighteenth-century Britain. In imagining the lived experience of disability as analogous to—and as informed by—queer genders and sexualities, the authors featured in Novel Bodies expose emerging ideas of able-bodiedness and heterosexuality as interconnected systems that sustain dominant models of courtship, reproduction, and degeneracy. Further, Farr argues that they use intersections of disability and queerness to stage an array of contemporaneous debates covering topics as wide-ranging as education, feminism, domesticity, medicine, and plantation life. In his close attention to the fiction of Eliza Haywood, Samuel Richardson, Sarah Scott, Maria Edgeworth, and Frances Burney, Farr demonstrates that disabled and queer characters inhabit strict social orders in unconventional ways, and thus opened up new avenues of expression for readers from the eighteenth century forward.
Published by Bucknell University Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.
On Descartes’ Passive Thought is the culmination of a life-long reflection on the philosophy of Descartes by one of the most important living French philosophers. In it, Jean-Luc Marion examines anew some of the questions left unresolved in his previous books about Descartes, with a particular focus on Descartes’s theory of morals and the passions.
Descartes has long been associated with mind-body dualism, but Marion argues here that this is a historical misattribution, popularized by Malebranche and popular ever since both within the academy and with the general public. Actually, Marion shows, Descartes held a holistic conception of body and mind. He called it the meum corpus, a passive mode of thinking, which implies far more than just pure mind—rather, it signifies a mind directly connected to the body: the human being that I am. Understood in this new light, the Descartes Marion uncovers through close readings of works such as Passions of the Soul resists prominent criticisms leveled at him by twentieth-century figures like Husserl and Heidegger, and even anticipates the non-dualistic, phenomenological concepts of human being discussed today. This is a momentous book that no serious historian of philosophy will be able to ignore.
In his essay “Compensation,” Ralph Waldo Emerson makes a surprising claim: “Every soul is by this intrinsic necessity quitting its whole system of things, its friends, and home, and laws, and faith, as the shell-fish crawls out of its beautiful but stony case, because it no longer admits of its growth, and slowly forms a new house.”
Branka Arsić unpacks Emerson’s repeated assertion that our reality and our minds are in constant flux. Arsić’s readings of a broad range of Emerson’s writings—the Early Lectures, Journals and Notebooks, and later lectures—are guided by a central question: what does it really mean to maintain that everything fluctuates, is relational, and so changes its identity?
Reading Emerson through this lens, Arsić asks: How is the leaving of one’s own consciousness actually to be performed? What kind of relationship is predicated on the necessity of leaving? What does it mean for our system of values, our ethics and our political allegiances, and even our personal identities to be on the move? The bold new understanding of Emerson that results redefines inherited concepts of the Emersonian individual as all-composed, willful, appropriative, and self-reliant. In its place, Arsić reveals an Emersonian individual whose ideal being is founded in mutability.
In this collection of essays, Bromberger explores the centrality of questions and predicaments they create in scientific research. He discusses the nature of explanation, theory, and the foundations of linguistics.
Oneself as Another
Paul Ricoeur University of Chicago Press, 1992 Library of Congress B2430.R553S6513 1992 | Dewey Decimal 126
Paul Ricoeur has been hailed as one of the most important thinkers of the century. Oneself as Another, the clearest account of his "philosophical ethics," substantiates this position and lays the groundwork for a metaphysics of morals.
Focusing on the concept of personal identity, Ricoeur develops a hermeneutics of the self that charts its epistemological path and ontological status.
The ever increasing ability of medical technology to reshape the human body in fundamental ways - from organ and tissue transplants to reconstructive surgery and prosthetics - is something now largely taken for granted. But for a philosopher, such interventions raise fundamental and fascinating questions about our sense of individual identity and its relationship to the physical body. Drawing on and engaging with philosophers from across the centuries, Jenny Slatman here develops a novel argument: that our own body always entails a strange dimension, a strangeness that enables us to incorporate radical physical changes.
Although the body has been the focus of much contemporary cultural theory, the models that are typically applied neglect the most salient characteristics of embodied existence—movement, affect, and sensation—in favor of concepts derived from linguistic theory. In Parables for the Virtual Brian Massumi views the body and media such as television, film, and the Internet, as cultural formations that operate on multiple registers of sensation beyond the reach of the reading techniques founded on the standard rhetorical and semiotic models. Renewing and assessing William James’s radical empiricism and Henri Bergson’s philosophy of perception through the filter of the post-war French philosophy of Deleuze, Guattari, and Foucault, Massumi links a cultural logic of variation to questions of movement, affect, and sensation. If such concepts are as fundamental as signs and significations, he argues, then a new set of theoretical issues appear, and with them potential new paths for the wedding of scientific and cultural theory. Replacing the traditional opposition of literal and figural with new distinctions between stasis and motion and between actual and virtual, Parables for the Virtual tackles related theoretical issues by applying them to cultural mediums as diverse as architecture, body art, the digital art of Stelarc, and Ronald Reagan’s acting career. The result is an intriguing combination of cultural theory, science, and philosophy that asserts itself in a crystalline and multi-faceted argument. Parables for the Virtual will interest students and scholars of continental and Anglo-American philosophy, cultural studies, cognitive science, electronic art, digital culture, and chaos theory, as well as those concerned with the “science wars” and the relation between the humanities and the sciences in general.
We are living through a boom in autobiographical writing. Every half-famous celebrity, every politician, every sports hero—even the non-famous, nowadays, pour out pages and pages, Facebook post after Facebook post, about themselves. Literary theorists have noticed, as the genres of “creative nonfiction” and “life writing” have found their purchase in the academy. And of course psychologists have long been interested in self-disclosure. But where have the philosophers been? With this volume, Christopher Cowley brings them into the conversation.
Cowley and his contributors show that while philosophers have seemed uninterested in autobiography, they have actually long been preoccupied with many of its conceptual elements, issues such as the nature of the self, the problems of interpretation and understanding, the paradoxes of self-deception, and the meaning and narrative structure of human life. But rarely have philosophers brought these together into an overarching question about what it means to tell one’s life story or understand another’s. Tackling these questions, the contributors explore the relationship between autobiography and literature; between story-telling, knowledge, and agency; and between the past and the present, along the way engaging such issues as autobiographical ethics and the duty of writing. The result bridges long-standing debates and illuminates fascinating new philosophical and literary issues.
The Printed Reader explores the transformative power of reading in the eighteenth century, and how this was expressed in the fascination with Don Quixote and in a proliferation of narratives about quixotic readers, readers who attempt to reproduce and embody their readings. Through intersecting readings of quixotic narratives, including work by Charlotte Lennox, Laurence Sterne, George Colman, Richard Graves, and Elizabeth Hamilton, Amelia Dale argues that literature was envisaged as imprinting—most crucially, in gendered terms—the reader’s mind, character, and body. The Printed Reader brings together key debates concerning quixotic narratives, print culture, sensibility, empiricism, book history, and the material text, connecting developments in print technology to gendered conceptualizations of quixotism. Tracing the meanings of quixotic readers’ bodies, The Printed Reader claims the social and political text that is the quixotic reader is structured by the experiential, affective, and sexual resonances of imprinting and impressions.
Published by Bucknell University Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.
Vincent Descombes Harvard University Press, 2016 Library of Congress BD236.D5213 2015 | Dewey Decimal 126
As a logical concept, identity refers to one and the same thing. So how can it describe membership in various groups, as in ethnic and religious identity? Bringing together an analytic conception of identity with a psychosocial understanding, Vincent Descombes demonstrates why a person has more than one answer to the essential question Who am I?
Referentialism has underappreciated consequences for our understanding of the ways in which mind, language, and world relate to one another. In exploring these consequences, this book defends a version of referentialism about names, demonstratives, and indexicals, in a manner appropriate for scholars and students in philosophy or the cognitive sciences.
To demonstrate his view, Kenneth A. Taylor offers original and provocative accounts of a wide variety of semantic, pragmatic, and psychological phenomena, such as empty names, propositional attitude contexts, the nature of concepts, and the ultimate source and nature of normativity.
Today, a scientific explanation is not meant to ascribe agency to natural phenomena: we would not say a rock falls because it seeks the center of the earth. Even for living things, in the natural sciences and often in the social sciences, the same is true. A modern botanist would not say that plants pursue sunlight. This has not always been the case, nor, perhaps, was it inevitable. Since the seventeenth century, many thinkers have made agency, in various forms, central to science.
The Restless Clock examines the history of this principle, banning agency, in the life sciences. It also tells the story of dissenters embracing the opposite idea: that agency is essential to nature. The story begins with the automata of early modern Europe, as models for the new science of living things, and traces questions of science and agency through Descartes, Leibniz, Lamarck, and Darwin, among many others. Mechanist science, Jessica Riskin shows, had an associated theology: the argument from design, which found evidence for a designer in the mechanisms of nature. Rejecting such appeals to a supernatural God, the dissenters sought to naturalize agency rather than outsourcing it to a “divine engineer.” Their model cast living things not as passive but as active, self-making machines.
The conflict between passive- and active-mechanist approaches maintains a subterranean life in current science, shaping debates in fields such as evolutionary biology, cognitive science, and artificial intelligence. This history promises not only to inform such debates, but also our sense of the possibilities for what it means to engage in science—and even what it means to be alive.
After World War II, Japanese intellectuals believed that world history was moving inexorably toward bourgeois democracy and then socialism. But who would be the agents—the active "subjects"—of that revolution in Japan? Intensely debated at the time, this question of active subjectivity influenced popular ideas about nationalism and social change that still affect Japanese political culture today.
In a major contribution to modern Japanese intellectual history, J. Victor Koschmann analyzes the debate over subjectivity. He traces the arguments of intellectuals from various disciplines and political viewpoints, and finds that despite their stress on individual autonomy, they all came to define subjectivity in terms of deterministic historical structures, thus ultimately deferring the possibility of radical change in Japan.
Establishing a basis for historical dialogue about democratic revolution, this book will interest anyone concerned with issues of nationalism, postcolonialism, and the formation of identities.
Over the course of her career, Barbara Stafford has established herself the preeminent scholar of the intersections of the arts and sciences, articulating new theories and methods for understanding the sublime, the mysterious, the inscrutable. Omnivorous in her research, she has published work that embraces neuroscience and philosophy, biology and culture, pinpointing connections among each discipline’s parallel concerns. Ribbon of Darkness is a monument to the scope of her work and the range of her intellect. At times associative, but always incisive, the essays in this new volume take on a distinctly contemporary purpose: to uncover the ethical force and moral aspects of overlapping scientific and creative inquiries. This shared territory, Stafford argues, offers important insights into—and clarifications of—current dilemmas about personhood, the supposedly menial nature of manual skill, the questionable borderlands of gene editing, the potentially refining value of dualism, and the limits of a materialist worldview.
Stafford organizes these essays around three concepts that structure the book: inscrutability, ineffability, and intuitability. All three, she explains, allow us to examine how both the arts and the sciences imaginatively infer meaning from the “veiled behavior of matter,” bringing these historically divided subjects into a shared intellectual inquiry and imbuing them with an ethical urgency. A vanguard work at the intersection of the arts and sciences, this book will be sure to guide readers from either realm into unfamiliar yet undeniably fertile territory.
Tanney challenges not only the cognitivist approach that has dominated philosophy and the special sciences for fifty years, but metaphysical-empirical approaches to the mind in general. Rules, Reason, and Self-Knowledge advocates a return to the world-involving, circumstance-dependent, normative practices where the rational mind has its home.
Ever since Greek antiquity "disembodied knowledge" has often been taken as synonymous with "objective truth." Yet we also have very specific mental images of the kinds of bodies that house great minds—the ascetic philosopher versus the hearty surgeon, for example. Does truth have anything to do with the belly? What difference does it make to the pursuit of knowledge whether Einstein rode a bicycle, Russell was randy, or Darwin flatulent?
Bringing body and knowledge into such intimate contact is occasionally seen as funny, sometimes as enraging, and more often just as pointless. Vividly written and well illustrated, Science Incarnate offers concrete historical answers to such skeptical questions about the relationships between body, mind, and knowledge.
Focusing on the seventeenth century to the present, Science Incarnate explores how intellectuals sought to establish the value and authority of their ideas through public displays of their private ways of life. Patterns of eating, sleeping, exercising, being ill, and having (or avoiding) sex, as well as the marks of gender and bodily form, were proof of the presence or absence of intellectual virtue, integrity, skill, and authority. Intellectuals examined in detail include René Descartes, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, and Ada Lovelace.
Science Incarnate is at once very funny and deeply serious, addressing issues of crucial importance to present-day discussions about the nature of knowledge and how it is produced. It incorporates much that will interest cultural and social historians, historians of science and medicine, philosophers, sociologists, and anthropologists.
Beginning with the seemingly simple act of seeing red, this brilliantly unsettling essay builds toward an explanation of why consciousness makes compelling evolutionary sense. From sensations that probably began in bodily expression to the evolutionary advantages of a conscious self, Seeing Red tracks the "hard problem" of consciousness to its source and its solution, a solution in which the very hardness of the problem may make all the difference.
Drawing on classical antiquity and Western and Eastern philosophy, Richard Sorabji tackles in Self the question of whether there is such a thing as the individual self or only a stream of consciousness. According to Sorabji, the self is not an undetectable soul or ego, but an embodied individual whose existence is plain to see. Unlike a mere stream of consciousness, it is something that owns not only a consciousness but also a body.
Sorabji traces historically the retreat from a positive idea of self and draws out the implications of these ideas of self on the concepts of life and death, asking: Should we fear death? How should our individuality affect the way we live? Through an astute reading of a huge array of traditions, he helps us come to terms with our uneasiness about the subject of self in an account that will be at the forefront of philosophical debates for years to come.
“There has never been a book remotely like this one in its profusion of ancient references on ideas about human identity and selfhood . . . . Readers unfamiliar with the subject also need to know that Sorabji breaks new ground in giving special attention to philosophers such as Epictetus and other Stoics, Plotinus and later Neoplatonists, and the ancient commentators on Aristotle (on the last of whom he is the world's leading authority).”—Anthony A. Long, Times Literary Supplement
Sebastian Rödl undermines a foundational dogma of contemporary philosophy: that knowledge, in order to be objective, must be knowledge of something that is as it is, independent of being known to be so. This profound work revives the thought that knowledge, precisely on account of being objective, is self-knowledge: knowledge knowing itself.
Self-deception is one of the topics that lends itself best to the task of exploring the possibilities of cross-fertilization between 'continental philosophy' and 'analytic philosophy'. Fifty years ago, in Being and Nothingness, Sartre defined the core notion of 'Bad Faith' as lying to oneself. On the other side of the Atlantic, self-deception has become one of the most exciting puzzles in the philosophy of mind, and a number of paradoxes encountered by the theory of rational choice involve that very same notion. One of the objectives is to show that bridges can be thrown over the gap between the two traditions, but also that both of them make self-deception too intrapsychic and suffer from a serious individualistic bias. The conference was intended to explore the intersubjective and social dimensions of self-deception.
Akeel Bilgrami argues that self-knowledge of our intentional states is special among all the knowledges we have because it is not an epistemological notion in the standard sense of that term, but instead is a fallout of the radically normative nature of thought and agency.
Stoicism and Emotion
Margaret Graver University of Chicago Press, 2007 Library of Congress B528.G73 2007 | Dewey Decimal 128.37093
On the surface, stoicism and emotion seem like contradictory terms. Yet the Stoic philosophers of ancient Greece and Rome were deeply interested in the emotions, which they understood as complex judgments about what we regard as valuable in our surroundings. Stoicism and Emotion shows that they did not simply advocate an across-the-board suppression of feeling, as stoicism implies in today’s English, but instead conducted a searching examination of these powerful psychological responses, seeking to understand what attitude toward them expresses the deepest respect for human potential.
In this elegant and clearly written work, Margaret Graver gives a compelling new interpretation of the Stoic position. Drawing on a vast range of ancient sources, she argues that the chief demand of Stoic ethics is not that we should suppress or deny our feelings, but that we should perfect the rational mind at the core of every human being. Like all our judgments, the Stoics believed, our affective responses can be either true or false and right or wrong, and we must assume responsibility for them. Without glossing over the difficulties, Graver also shows how the Stoics dealt with those questions that seem to present problems for their theory: the physiological basis of affective responses, the phenomenon of being carried away by one’s emotions, the occurrence of involuntary feelings and the disordered behaviors of mental illness. Ultimately revealing the deeper motivations of Stoic philosophy, Stoicism and Emotion uncovers the sources of its broad appeal in the ancient world and illuminates its surprising relevance to our own.
In Studying Human Behavior, Helen E. Longino enters into the complexities of human behavioral research, a domain still dominated by the age-old debate of “nature versus nurture.” Rather than supporting one side or another or attempting to replace that dichotomy with a different framework for understanding behavior, Longino focuses on how scientists study it, specifically sexual behavior and aggression, and asks what can be known about human behavior through empirical investigation.
She dissects five approaches to the study of behavior—quantitative behavioral genetics, molecular behavior genetics, developmental psychology, neurophysiology and anatomy, and social/environmental methods—highlighting the underlying assumptions of these disciplines, as well as the different questions and mechanisms each addresses. She also analyzes efforts to integrate different approaches. Longino concludes that there is no single “correct” approach but that each contributes to our overall understanding of human behavior. In addition, Longino reflects on the reception and transmission of this behavioral research in scientific, social, clinical, and political spheres. A highly significant and innovative study that bears on crucial scientific questions, Studying Human Behavior will be essential reading not only for scientists and philosophers but also for science journalists and anyone interested in the engrossing challenges of understanding human behavior.
Being human while trying to scientifically study human nature confronts us with our most vexing problem. Efforts to explicate the human mind are thwarted by our cultural biases and entrenched infirmities; our first-person experiences as practical agents convince us that we have capacities beyond the reach of scientific explanation. What we need to move forward in our understanding of human agency, Paul Sheldon Davies argues, is a reform in the way we study ourselves and a long overdue break with traditional humanist thinking.
Davies locates a model for change in the rhetorical strategies employed by Charles Darwin in On the Origin of Species. Darwin worked hard to anticipate and diminish the anxieties and biases that his radically historical view of life was bound to provoke. Likewise, Davies draws from the history of science and contemporary psychology and neuroscience to build a framework for the study of human agency that identifies and diminishes outdated and limiting biases. The result is a heady, philosophically wide-ranging argument in favor of recognizing that humans are, like everything else, subjects of the natural world—an acknowledgement that may free us to see the world the way it actually is.
The chief aims of Thomas Aquinas on the Immateriality of the Human Intellect are to provide a comprehensive interpretation of Aquinas's oft-repeated claim that the human intellect is immaterial, and to assess his arguments on behalf of this claim. Adam Wood argues that Aquinas's claim refers primarily to the mode in which the human intellect has its act of being. That the human intellect has an immaterial mode of being, however, crucially underwrites Aquinas's additional views that the human soul is subsistent and incorruptible. To show how it does so, Wood argues that the human intellect's immateriality can also be put in terms of the impossibility of explaining its operations in terms of coordination between bodily parts, states and processes. Aquinas's arguments for the human intellect's immateriality, therefore, can be understood as attempts to show why intellectual operations cannot be explained in bodily terms. The book argues that not all of them succeed in this aim and also proposes, however, a novel interpretation of Aquinas's argument based on human intellect's universal mode of cognition that may indeed be sound. Wood concludes by considering the ramifications of Aquinas's position on matters pertaining to the afterlife.
Thomas Aquinas on the Immateriality of the Human Intellect represents the first book-length examination of Aquinas's claim that the human intellect is immaterial, and so — given the centrality of this claim to his thought — should interest any scholars interested in understanding Thomas. While it focuses throughout on careful attention to Aquinas's texts along with the relevant secondary literature, it also positions Thomas's thought alongside recent developments in metaphysics and philosophy of mind. Hence it should also interest historically-minded metaphysicians interested in understanding how Thomas's hylomorphism intersects with recent work in hylomorphic metaphysics, philosophers of mind interested in understanding how Thomas's philosophical psychology relates to contemporary forms of dualism, physicalism and emergentism, and philosophers of religion interested in the possibility of the resurrection.
N. Katherine Hayles is known for breaking new ground at the intersection of the sciences and the humanities. In Unthought, she once again bridges disciplines by revealing how we think without thinking—how we use cognitive processes that are inaccessible to consciousness yet necessary for it to function.
Marshalling fresh insights from neuroscience, cognitive science, cognitive biology, and literature, Hayles expands our understanding of cognition and demonstrates that it involves more than consciousness alone. Cognition, as Hayles defines it, is applicable not only to nonconscious processes in humans but to all forms of life, including unicellular organisms and plants. Startlingly, she also shows that cognition operates in the sophisticated information-processing abilities of technical systems: when humans and cognitive technical systems interact, they form “cognitive assemblages”—as found in urban traffic control, drones, and the trading algorithms of finance capital, for instance—and these assemblages are transforming life on earth. The result is what Hayles calls a “planetary cognitive ecology,” which includes both human and technical actors and which poses urgent questions to humanists and social scientists alike.
At a time when scientific and technological advances are bringing far-reaching aspects of cognition into the public eye, Unthought reflects deeply on our contemporary situation and moves us toward a more sustainable and flourishing environment for all beings.
Varieties of Presence
Alva Noë Harvard University Press, 2012 Library of Congress B105.E9N64 2012 | Dewey Decimal 128.4
The world shows up for us, but, as Alva Noë contends in his latest exploration of the problem of consciousness, it doesn’t show up for free. We must show up, too, and bring along what knowledge and skills we’ve cultivated. As with a painting in a gallery, the world has no meaning—no presence to be experienced—apart from our able engagement with it.
Virtues of Thought
Aryeh Kosman Harvard University Press, 2014 Library of Congress B395.K55 2013 | Dewey Decimal 184
Exploring what two foundational figures, Plato and Aristotle, have to say about the nature of human awareness and understanding, Aryeh Kosman concludes that ultimately the virtues of thought are to be found in the joys and satisfactions that come from thinking philosophically, whether we engage in it ourselves or witness others' participation.
In the summer of 2000, David Hlavsa and his wife Lisa Holtby embarked on a pilgrimage. After trying for three years to conceive a child and suffering through the monthly cycle of hope and disappointment, they decided to walk the Camino de Santiago, a joint enterprise—and an act of faith—they hoped would strengthen their marriage and prepare them for parenthood.
Though walking more than 400 miles across the north of Spain turned out to be more difficult than they had anticipated, after a series of misadventures, including a brief stay in a Spanish hospital, they arrived in Santiago. Shortly after their return to Seattle, Lisa became pregnant, and the hardships of the Camino were no comparison to what followed: the stillbirth of their first son and Lisa’s harrowing second pregnancy.
Walking Distance is a moving and disarmingly funny book, a good story with a happy ending—the safe arrival of David and Lisa’s second son, Benjamin. David and Lisa get more than they bargained for, but they also get exactly what they wanted: a child, a solid marriage, and a richer life.
WINDOW TO ETERNITY
BRUCE HENDERSON Swedenborg Foundation Publishers, 2010 Library of Congress BX8729.F8H46 2010 | Dewey Decimal 236.2
What happens to us when we die? Is there really a heaven and hell? Are there angels watching over us? These questions follow us from early childhood to old age, particularly in moments when we’re confronted with the loss of a loved one.
In Window to Eternity, Bruce Henderson draws from the teachings of visionary Emanuel Swedenborg to paint a vivid picture of heaven and hell, where the souls of the departed become angels and demons and indescribable wonders await. But far from being a distant destination, Henderson shows that heaven is a choice that each of us makes every day—ours to have or to turn away from, regardless of our background or religious upbringing.