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Philosophie des Geistes im Spätmittelalter

Intellekt, Materie und Intentionalität bei Johannes Buridan


Martin Klein

Is the human intellect material? Or can we show by appeal to its intentional operations, such as universal cognition and self-knowledge, that it is immaterial? Is there therefore a connection between intentionality and immateriality?
In Philosophie des Geistes im Spätmittelalter, Martin Klein offers a comprehensive account of John Buridan’s philosophy of mind considered in relation to his epistemology, metaphysics and natural philosophy. In light of material that has only recently been edited, Buridan is presented in the context of the late medieval debate about the nature of the human intellect and how this influences its cognitive functioning.

Zheng Ren, Rikki H. Sargent, James D. Griffith, Lea T. Adams, Erika Kline and Jeff Hughes


The topic of infantile amnesia, or often referred to as one’s earliest childhood memory, has been studied for more than 100 years. Recently, there have been increased efforts to examine cultural differences in earliest childhood memories. The present study recruited participants (N = 242) from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (MT), referred to as Turkers, who were either from an individualist (United States) or collectivist (India) culture, and compared their earliest recollections. Turkers from India reported earliest recollections that were from a later age, had more social themes, had more unpleasant memories, had more specific memories, and took longer to complete the task compared to Turkers from the United States. These findings suggest that unique cultural differences may be associated with early memories, which may reflect cultural differences in the development of one’s self-concept.

Nicole Lynn Henderson and William W. Dressler


This study examines the cognitive resources underlying the attribution of stigma in substance use and misuse. A cultural model of substance misuse risk was elicited from students at a major U.S. state university. We found a contested cultural model, with some respondents adopting a model of medical risk while others adopted a model of moral failure; agreeing that moral failure primarily defined risk led to greater attribution of stigma. Here we incorporate general beliefs about moral decision-making, assessed through Moral Foundations Theory. Specifically, we examined commitment to each moral foundation in relation to stigma attribution while controlling for the specific model of substance misuse risk. We found an interaction between the purity moral foundation and the cultural model of risk. This suggests that broad moral orientations, along with more specific understandings of substance misuse risk, combine to orient an individual with respect to stigma attribution.

Nicole Marie Summers and Falak Saffaf


One way in which information about the unknown is socialized to children is through adult testimony. Sharing false testimony about others with children may foster inaccurate perceptions and may result in prejudicially based divisions amongst children. As part of a larger study, mothers were instructed to read and discuss an illustrated story about Arab-Muslim refugees from Syria with their 6- to 8-year-olds (n = 31). Parent-child discourse during two pages of this book was examined for how mothers used Islam as a talking point. Results indicated that only 50% of mothers and 13% of children shared accurate testimony about Islam. However, while 35% of children admitted uncertainty in their knowledge, only 3% of mothers admitted uncertainty. These results highlight the importance of parents sharing the confidence in their knowledge. If parents teach inaccurate information about other religions, it may create a greater divide between children of different religious backgrounds.

Justin P. Gregory, Tyler S. Greenway and Christina Keys


Supernatural agent concepts are regarded as a defining trait of religion. The interaction of the minimally counterintuitive (MCI) mnemonic effect and the hypersensitive agency detection device (HADD) may be employed to explain the universal presence of concepts of gods and deities. Using the measure of free-recall, a broad model of cultural transmission investigated this pan-cultural transmission bias with a large age-representative sample (3 to 86 years; N = 764) in UK and China. Results were analyzed by four-way mixed ANOVA considering counterintuitiveness, familiarity, ontological category, and delay, and with age as a covariate. A significant interaction of counterintuitiveness × HADD was found for both UK and China samples. These findings support assertions that supernatural agent concepts are more easily transmitted than other concepts because the present study finds that concepts similar to supernatural agents were more readily recalled.

Karenleigh A. Overmann and Thomas Wynn


Using a model of cognition as extended and enactive, we examine the role of materiality in making minds as exemplified by lithics and writing, forms associated with conceptual thought and meta-awareness of conceptual domains. We address ways in which brain functions may change in response to interactions with material forms, the attributes of material forms that may cause such change, and the spans of time required for neurofunctional reorganization. We also offer three hypotheses for investigating co-influence and change in cognition and material culture.

Rohan Kapitány and Mark Nielsen


Rituals are able to transform ordinary objects into extraordinary objects. And while rituals typically do not cause physical changes, they may imbue objects with a particular specialness – a simple gold band may become a wedding ring, while an ordinary dessert may become a birthday cake. To treat such objects as if they were ordinary then becomes inappropriate. How does this transformation take place in the minds of observers, and how do we recognize it when we see it? Here, we suggest that two under-examined elements of ritual need deeper consideration within the context of ritual cognition. We propose a fully integrated operational definition in which these two critical ritual elements – causal opacity and goal demotion – are included. In a pre-registered experiment one-hundred and one adults, in a 2 × 2 mixed-within participants design observed actions performed upon profane objects. These actions were either ordinary (causally transparent and goal apparent) or ritualized (causally opaque and goal demoted), and were described as a blessing, a curse, or were not described at all. Contrary to established findings and pre-registered predictions, we found that ritualized actions alone are not enough to influence perceptions of, and attributions towards, objects, and that positive goal information (blessings) are more behaviorally persuasive than negative information. However, we found that participants recalled ritualized action in greater detail and with more specificity than ordinary actions. In effect, we demonstrate that causal opacity and goal information interact to allow us to recognize a ritual as a ritual.

Taner Edis and Maarten Boudry


Judgments of the rationality of beliefs must take the costs of acquiring and possessing beliefs into consideration. In that case, certain false beliefs, especially those that are associated with the benefits of a cohesive community, can be seen to be useful for an agent and perhaps instrumentally rational to hold. A distinction should be made between excusable misbeliefs, which a rational agent should tolerate, and misbeliefs that are defensible in their own right because they confer benefits on the agent. Likely candidates for such misbeliefs are to be found in the realm of nationalism and religion, where the possession costs of true beliefs are high, and where collective beliefs in falsehoods may allow for a cohesive community. We discuss the paradoxes of reflective awareness involved in the idea of deliberately embracing falsehoods. More rigorous, fully reflective concepts of rationality would still disallow false beliefs, but such demanding versions of rationality would commit agents to pay large costs, thereby weakening the motivation for acquiring true beliefs.

Michael Moncrieff and Pierre Lienard


Models of ethnic violence have primarily been descriptive in nature, advancing broad or particular social and political reasons as explanations, and neglecting the contributions of individuals as decision-makers. Game theoretic and rational choice models recognize the role of individual decision-making in ethnic violence. However, such models embrace a classical economic theory view of unbounded rationality as utility-maximization, with its exacting assumption of full informational access, rather than a model of bounded rationality, modeling individuals as satisficing agents endowed with evolved domain-specific competences. A newer theoretical framework hypothesizing the existence of a human coalitional psychology, an evolved domain of competence, allows us to make sense of core features of memorial narratives about ethnic violence. Qualitative data from the interviews of fifty-seven participants who were impacted by the Croatian Homeland War support expectations entailed by a coalitional psychology model of ethnic strife.