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Flavio A. Geisshuesler

Abstract

This article proposes a 7E model of the human mind, which was developed within the cognitive paradigm in religious studies and its primary expression, the Cognitive Science of Religion (CSR). This study draws on the philosophically most sophisticated currents in the cognitive sciences, which have come to define the human mind through a 4E model as embodied, embedded, enactive, and extended. Introducing Catherine Malabou’s concept of “plasticity,” the study not only confirms the insight of the 4E model of the self as a decentered system, but it also recommends two further traits of the self that have been overlooked in the cognitive sciences, namely the negativity of plasticity and the tension between giving and receiving form. Finally, the article matures these philosophical insights to develop a concrete model of the religious mind, equipping it with three further Es, namely emotional, evolved, and exoconscious.

Stefaan Blancke, Maarten Boudry and Johan Braeckman

Abstract

Pseudoscience spreads through communicative and inferential processes that make people vulnerable to weird beliefs. However, the fact that pseudoscientific beliefs are unsubstantiated and have no basis in reality does not mean that the people who hold them have no reasons for doing so. We propose that, reasons play a central role in the diffusion of pseudoscience. On the basis of cultural epidemiology and the interactionist theory of reasoning, we will here analyse the structure and the function of reasons in the propagation of pseudoscience. We conclude by discussing the implications of our approach for the understanding of human irrationality.

Ryan Nichols, Henrike Moll and Jacob L. Mackey

Abstract

This essay discusses Cecilia Heyes’ groundbreaking new book Cognitive Gadgets: The Cultural Evolution of Thinking. Heyes’ point of departure is the claim that current theories of cultural evolution fail adequately to make a place for the mind. Heyes articulates a cognitive psychology of cultural evolution by explaining how eponymous “cognitive gadgets,” such as imitation, mindreading and language, mental technologies, are “tuned” and “assembled” through social interaction and cultural learning. After recapitulating her explanations for the cultural and psychological origins of these gadgets, we turn to criticisms. Among those, we find Heyes’ use of evolutionary theory confusing on several points of importance; alternative theories of cultural evolution, especially those of the Tomasello group and of Boyd, Richerson and Henrich, are misrepresented; the book neglects joint attention and other forms of intersubjectivity in its explanation of the origins of cognitive gadgets; and, whereas Heyes accuses other theories of being “mindblind,” we find her theory ironically other-blind and autistic in character.

Robert N. McCauley, George Graham and A. C. Reid

Abstract

The cognitive science of religions’ By-Product Theory contends that much religious thought and behavior can be explained in terms of the cultural activation of maturationally natural cognitive systems. Those systems address fundamental problems of human survival, encompassing such capacities as hazard precautions, agency detection, language processing, and theory of mind. Across cultures they typically arise effortlessly and unconsciously during early childhood. They are not taught and appear independent of general intelligence. Theory of mind (mentalizing) undergirds an instantaneous and automatic intuitive understanding of minds, mental representations, and their implications for agents’ actions. By-Product theorists hypothesize about a social cognition content bias, holding that mentalizing capacities inform participants’ implicit understanding of religious representations of agents with counter-intuitive properties. That hypothesis, in combination with Baron-Cohen’s account of Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in terms of diminished theory of mind capacities (what he calls “mind-blindness”), suggests an impaired religious understanding hypothesis. It proposes that people with ASD have substantial limitations in intuitive understanding of and creative inferences from such representations. Norenzayan argues for a mind-blind atheism hypothesis, which asserts that the truth of these first two hypotheses suggests that people with ASD have an increased probability, compared to the general population, of being atheists. Numerous empirical studies have explored these three hypotheses’ merits. After carefully pondering distinctions between intuitive versus reflective mentalizing and between explicit versus implicit measures and affective versus cognitive measures of mentalizing, the available empirical evidence provides substantial support for the first two hypotheses and non-trivial support for the third.

David W. Johnson

Abstract

One of the hallmarks of the Japanese psychiatrist and philosopher Kimura Bin’s (b. 1931) philosophical approach is the conversion of ordinary words into philosophical concepts. Here we focus on the way he appropriates the Japanese words onozukara and mizukara, ordinary terms associated, respectively, with things that occur naturally, spontaneously, or by themselves, and those that come from oneself. This re-reading of these terms as philosophical concepts furnishes an interpretive frame that brings together and makes sense of large and important concepts in philosophy and psychology such as self and nature, perception and sensation, collective subjectivity and individual subject, schizophrenia and self-realization. His appropriation of these two Japanese terms also uncovers a general and impersonal form of subjectivity that underlies our experience of ourselves as individuated subjects and stands at the center of his philosophical and psychological investigations into these phenomena.

Dōgen and Continental Philosophy

An Essay on the Powers of Thinking

Jason M. Wirth

Abstract

Continental philosophy, beginning with Kant, has found itself exposed to the abyss of reason. This crisis makes it a more ready dialogue partner with some of the Zen tradition. I explore this opening by bringing Eihei Dōgen (1200–1253) into an encounter with Continental thought, broadly construed. Rather than demonstrate how Dōgen already fits within Continental thought or re-engineering the latter so that he can fit, I argue that this encounter, already precipitated by Continental philosophy’s own acknowledgement of the felix culpa of Western philosophy’s otherwise indefensible overreach, transforms and expands the manners in which thinking counts as philosophical. This is no less than to recover a sense of philosophy as genetic and creative, rather than a shopworn tool kit of universal insights.

Eric S. Nelson

Abstract

Heidegger’s “Evening Conversation: In a Prisoner of War Camp in Russia, between a Younger and an Older Man” (1945), one of three dialogues composed by Heidegger after the defeat of National Socialist Germany published in Country Path Conversations (Feldweg-Gespräche) explores the being-historical situation and fate of the German people by turning to the early Daoist text of the Zhuangzi. My article traces how Heidegger interprets fundamental concepts from the Zhuangzi, mediated by way of Richard Wilhelm’s translation Das wahre Buch vom südlichen Blütenland (1912), such as naturalness, letting/releasement (Gelassenheit/wuwei), the unnecessary (wuyong zhi wei yong) and the useless (wuyong zhi yong) in the context of his hermeneutical and political situation. I consider to what extent this dialogue, along with his other discussions of the Zhuangzi and intensive engagement with the Daodejing from 1943 to 1950, constitute a “Daoist turn” in Heidegger’s thinking that helped shape his Postwar thought.

Hiding Between Basho and Chōra

Re-imagining and Re-placing the Elemental

Brian Schroeder

Abstract

This essay considers the relation between two fundamentally different notions of place—the Greek concept of χώρα and the Japanese concept of basho 場所—in an effort to address the question of a possible “other beginning” to philosophy by rethinking the relation between nature and the elemental. Taking up a cross-cultural comparative approach, ancient through contemporary Eastern and Western sources are considered. Central to this endeavor is reflection on the concept of the between through an engagement between, on the one hand, Plato, Martin Heidegger, Jacques Derrida, Edward Casey, and John Sallis, and on the other, Eihei Dōgen, Nishida Kitarō, and Watsuji Tetsurō.