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Abstract: Elements of Mind (EM) has two themes, one major and one minor. The major theme is intentionality, the mind’s direction upon its objects; the other is the mind–body problem. I treat these themes separately: chapters 1, and 3–5 are concerned with intentionality, while chapter 2 is about the mind–body problem. In this summary I will first describe my view of the mind–body problem, and then describe the book’s main theme. Like many philosophers, I see the mind–body problem as containing two sub–problems: the problem of mental causation and the problem of consciousness. I see these problems forming the two horns of a dilemma. Just as the problem of mental causation pushes us towards physicalism, so the problem of consciousness pushes us away from it. Each problem reveals the inadequacy of the solution to the other. Essentially the problem of mental causation is the conflict between (i) the apparent fact that mental states and events have effects in the physical world and (ii) a general principle about the causal nature of the physical world, which is sometimes called the ‘causal closure’ or the ‘causal completeness’ of the physical world. This principle says that all physical effects have physical causes which are enough to bring them about. The problem then is simple: how can a mental cause have a physical effect if that effect also has a physical cause which is enough to bring it about? Barring massive overdetermination of our actions by independent causes, it seems that the best answer is to identify the mental and the physical causes. And this is traditionally how physicalists have argued for their identity theory of mind and body. However, many physicalists reject the identity theory, and therefore they have to solve the mental causation problem in some other way. At present, there is no consensus among physicalists on which of the currently proposed solutions is correct. In chapter 2 of EM I propose an alternative, which I call ‘emergentism’. Inspired by the rejection of the identity theory, Emergentism is the idea that mental properties are genu..
Abstract: The thesis that Dennett argues for in Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon has a double aspect. First, religion being but one natural phenomenon among many should be subject to scientific investigation. Resistance to this notion constitutes the first spell or taboo and is in complicity with the second “master” spell, that of the phenomenon of religion itself. Dennett’s tentative naturalistic recommendation is two-pronged: he primarily deploys an evolutionary biology perspective, and derivatively a highly suggestive appeal to memetics. To acknowledge that religion is natural “is only the beginning of the answer, not the end”. Religion as a natural phenomenon has to answer to Dennett’s Darwinist refrain — cui bono? (to whose advantage?). And derivatively, how or why highly exotic and implausible supernatural religious ideas (or memes) are transmitted and sustained? Humankind, naturally disposed cause-seeking creatures, are inclined to hypostasize all manner of beliefs (virtual agents free to evolve to amplify our yearnings or our dreads — when explanation of some phenomenon is not forthcoming — this constitutes the “master” spell.
Abstract: Humans are part of the animal kingdom, but their minds differ from those of other animals. They are capable of many things that lie beyond the intellectual powers of the rest of the animal realm. In this paper, I want to ask what makes human minds distinctive. What accounts for the special powers that set humans aside from other animals?
Abstract: In Supersizing the Mind: Embodiment, Action, and Cognitive Extension (Clark, 2008), Andy Clark bolsters his case for the extended mind thesis and casts a critical eye on some related views for which he has less enthusiasm. To these ends, the book canvasses a wide range of empirical results concerning the subtle manner in which the human organism and its environment interact in the production of intelligent behavior. This fascinating research notwithstanding, Supersizing does little to assuage my skepticism about the hypotheses of extended cognition and extended mind. In particular, Supersizing fails to make the case for the extended view as a revolutionary thesis in the theoretical foundations of cognitive science
Abstract: discusses the Cartesian dualist view which many find initially appealing, and contains a careful Dewey number: 128/.2 examination of arguments for and against. Part II introduces the broadly functionalist type of Dewey version: 19 physicalism which has Aristotelian roots. This approach is developed to yield accounts of LC Classification: perception, action, belief and desire, and the emerging theory of the mind is compared at each..