Consciousness is something you do

Many parents who look into the eyes of their newborn baby encounter something wonderful, and awe inspiring. There in those eyes they get a glimpse of a new perspective, a new point of view on the world. A new consciousness. The idea that consciousness is the subjective perspective we each …

Structures of the Mind

Yesterday, I suggested that we need a theory of attention that gives attention a central place in the mind and serves as a unified framework that integrates different approaches to attention, both in philosophy and in the empirical sciences. Today, I will sketch the priority structure framework and give some …

Who needs a theory of attention?

Let me tell you about my friend Jayden: these days, Jayden gives a lot of her attention to community work. Jayden has always paid attention to what matters morally over anything else. Her attention somehow just tends to be drawn to the suffering of others. Her own achievements, by contrast, …

2. Psychological and Computational Models of Sentence Processing

Last time, I argued that there are substantive open questions about whether the theoretical constructs of formal linguistics play any role in the psychological processes underlying language use. Let’s now address those questions. When people talk about “the psychological reality of syntax”, there are (at least) two importantly different types …

1. The Ontology, Epistemology, and Methodology of Linguistics

There are, broadly speaking, three competing frameworks for answering the foundational questions of linguistic theory—cognitivism (e.g., Chomsky 1995, 2000), platonism (e.g., Katz 1981, 2000), and nominalism (e.g., Devitt 2006, 2008). Platonism is the view that the subject matter of linguistics is an uncountable set of abstracta—entities that are located outside …

Designed Mind Symposium 2017 Conference Programme

CALL FOR PARTICIPATION Exploring the Function, Evolution & Implementation of Consciousness Informatics Forum,University of Edinburgh Edinburgh, Scotland 8-9 November 2017 https://designedmind.org   KEYNOTE SPEAKERS Daniel C. Dennett, Tufts University Michael Graziano, Princeton University   KEYNOTE SPEAKER BIOS Daniel C. Dennett, author of Consciousness Explained (Little, Brown and Co., 1991), Freedom …

Symposium on Gross and Flombaum, “Does Perceptual Consciousness Overflow Cognitive Access? The Challenge from Probabilistic, Hierarchical Processes”

It’s a pleasure to launch our latest Mind & Language symposium on Steven Gross and Jonathan Flombaum’s “Does Perceptual Consciousness Overflow Cognitive Access? The Challenge from Probabilistic, Hierarchical Processes” from the journal’s June 2017 issue. Our commentators include Jacob Beck (York), Nico Orlandi writing with Aaron Franklin (UC Santa Cruz), and Ian Phillips (Oxford). How are the neural …

6. Descriptive names

Consider the following example: Case 1: ‘Tremulous Hand’ ‘Tremulous Hand’ is used to refer to the otherwise unidentified author of around 50,000 Thirteenth Century glosses in manuscripts. Palaeographical analysis provides strong evidence that these glosses are the work of a single person with distinctive (tremulous and left-leaning) handwriting. All that …

In Memoriam: Hubert Dreyfus

Hubert L. Dreyfus, for nearly 50 years a professor of philosophy at UC Berkeley, died this past Saturday.

As many will know, Dreyfus was an early critic of artificial intelligence and an influential interpreter of Martin Heidegger and other phenomenologists. More recently he challenged John McDowell’s conceptualist accounts of perception and action with arguments that drew on his reading of Merleau-Ponty and longstanding interests in the phenomenology of skill. He will be sorely missed.

For more on Bert’s life, his teaching, and what made his approach to philosophy so revolutionary, here is a lengthy obituary by his student Sean Dorrance Kelly.

1. The Theory of Reference is Retro-chic

Remember the causo-descriptivist wars? If your education was anything like mine, at some point you were walked across the old battlefield and shown some of the main sights: early naïve descriptivism about proper names; its cluster theoretic successor; Kripke’s attack on descriptivism in Naming and Necessity; his causal inheritance picture; …

The Autonomy of Psychology and Beyond

In The Multiple Realization Book we articulate an account of multiple realization that is based on the idea that the “job description” for multiple realization is to be incompatible with brain-based theories of the mind and therefore to strongly favor functionalist and other realization-based theories. Multiple realization is supposed to …

The Multiple Realization Book: Précis

First, we’d like to thank John Schwenkler for giving us the opportunity to talk about The Multiple Realization Book (OUP 2016) on Brains. For about twenty years we’ve each been trying to understand the phenomenon of multiple realization and its importance in philosophy of mind and philosophy of science. In …