Two kinds of epistemological pluralism H Putnam and J McDowell

Popper founded his criticism of materialism and his defence of ontological pluralism on the existence of mental causation. Instead, other philosophers who have defended various forms of epistemological pluralism have attacked materialism and naturalism for the opposite reason according to them the relation between mind and world is not reducible to a causal relation. Two major kinds of epistemological pluralism have been maintained by such philosophers. Let us take as representatives of these...

The phenomenal field

The courses held by Merleau-Ponty at the Sorbonne in 1949-1951 were devoted to various pedagogical and psychological aspects of mental development. His line of argumentation surprised his students at first (Damish 1964), who probably did not expect any answer to phenomenological questions from psychology, and even less from the psychology of the infant. The choice was not so amazing because Merleau-Ponty considered the investigation of behavioural development to be the key method of what he...

Minimal Cartesianism

Minimal Cartesianism seeks to locate the roots of pure contemplative reason in the kinds of richly interactive settings emphasized in recent work on embodied cognition (Sections 2 and 3 above). Thus consider the phenomenon of skilled reaching.32 Smooth, skilled reaching involves the use of proprioceptive feedback - signals that tell the brain how the arm is oriented in space. But the timing of these signals poses a problem. The minimal delay between the onset and the use of such information...

The knowledge argument teaching

Reductive physicalism has to face the problem of qualia (but also any other theory of the mind-body relationships has to face it), particularly the knowledge argument, which stresses the subjective feature of mental states and the private access to them.5 The replies to the knowledge argument are oriented to utter rejection,6 and supporters and opponents of such an ar gument are sharply divided. My view is that the knowledge argument is not conclusive nevertheless, I...

Radical interactionism

One leading anti-representationalist argument19 turns on the presence of dense, reciprocal causal exchanges uniting agent and environment in a com plex web of mutual influence. Under such conditions, it is argued, the kind of de-composition and analysis that works so well in the case of e.g., a contemporary computer program simply gets no foothold. The problem (it is suggested) is that the notion of x representing y is too one-way and too simplistic to do justice to cases in which x is...

Brain size and the evolutionary process

Clearly, the answer to this question must lie somehow in the evolution of our brain, the underlying determinant of our behaviors. Conventional wisdom tells us that hominid brain size increased gradually over time (see, for example, Wolpoff 2000), reflecting an incremental improvement in hominid cognitive processes over hundreds of thousands of generations. This perception directly reflects the lingering dominance in paleoanthropological thought of the Evolutionary Synthesis (see Mayr 1986), the...

A reply to Popper

I think that a materialist should have no objection to the point (1) (except perhaps the use of such expressions like 'World 1', 'World 2', and 'World 3' that are committed by now in an indissoluble way to Popper's ontological pluralism). Also the point (2), unlike Popper's opinion, is perfectly compatible with materialism. Why should a materialist challenge that minds exist and have effects on bodies A materialist will claim, instead, that mental acts must be physical events just because they...

Poppers criticism of materialism

C. Eccles and published in 1977, The Self and Its Brain (Popper & Eccles 1985, 2nd ed.), and in other subsequent essays (see especially Popper 1994) Popper proposes a theory of the mind that aspires to be both naturalistic and anti-materialistic. This theory can be so summarised 1. Life emerged from matter, consciousness from life, and objective knowledge (especially scientific theories) from human consciousness (Popper & Eccles 1985 11). Popper calls...

Inner symbol flight

The outright rejection of the notion of internal representation is usefully seen as the extreme limiting case of a (generally admirable) process of inner symbol flight. This process involves the progressive rejection of more and more of the apparatus and assumptions associated with the vision of cognition as the ma nipulation of chunky inner symbols. According to this simple (and historically important) vision, semantically sensible transitions between mental states are explained in terms of...

Dynamical systems approaches Determinism and indeterminism

Langevin's equation leads to a distinction that lies at the heart of the sort of determinism espoused by dynamical systems approaches. This is between order parameters (synergetics), behavioural variables (catastrophe theory) or collective variables (the state vector q) on the one hand and control parameters (the p term) on the other (see Hopkins 2001, for further details). An order parameter is a single macroscopic entity that captures the behaviour of a complex system in terms of low...

Three forms of time

In the foregoing remarks, we have the outline of two ways in which we can regard phenomenal time as constituted - phenomenal, because it is jointly construed by us-and-the-world it is a constitutive element in our forms of knowledge of a Reality-out-there, but one which must be endowed of structure to become intelligible. This time is at once a real and a rational time, remarkably, but not absolutely objective. It is the co-construction of the knowing subject and the world, as rooted in the...

Notes

Such anticipation is frequently mentioned in the literature, the suggestion being that Hume's proposal has been finally vindicated. But as the needed qualifications are made explicit, they cannot serve the cause of a dynamicist approach, unless either Hume's scepticism on cause-effect correlations is forgotten or differential equations are taken as merely pragmatic fictions. 2. I have said legitimacy, instead of necessity, since there are deterministic interpretations of quantum mechanics. 3....

Determinism versus indeterminism

Determinism is the belief that all events are subject to causal laws and are themselves causes of other events i.e., causes cause causes to cause causes to use Wilden's (1972) alliteration . Classical (Newtonian) mechanics, Maxwell's electromagnetics as well as Einstein's special and general theories of relativity were all founded on strict interpretations of determinism. Indeterminism amounts to a denial of this belief and in its mildest form contends that there is at least one event for which...

Anisotropic causality

Here I shall assume - rather than arguing for - the existence of different layers, or levels, of complexity in the structure of the world. This assumption is necessary for the distinction between two kinds of causality, namely, horizontal and vertical causality. Though it is not assumed that they differ in essence, their characteristic role is associated with different kinds of problems. Horizontal causality concerns interactions among units of the same layer, whether such units belong to one...

Spizzos effect

We turn to a very interesting effect on the perception of causality, discovered in 1983 by Giovanni Spizzo, a former student of Paolo Bozzi, and which passed unnoticed until now. Spizzo's starting point was a set of observations made in various circumstances of everyday life such as opening and closing the hand in connection with the rhythmical appearance and disappearance of traffic lights. He noticed that in such circumstances we have the strong impression that the hand's motion is...

Causality and Gestalt problems in cognitive psychology

So far, we have seen that the most important contributions to the psychological problem of causality in Michotte's vein were given by Gestalt psychologists, or at least by researchers close to this tradition, But we all know pretty well that as a school, after the death of its main figures Wertheimer, K hler, Koffka, and more recently Metzger and Kanizsa , Gestalt psychology no longer exists. Nevertheless, and this is the lesson to be taken from the account of causality, its ideas are such that...