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Simon Blackburn


In this paper I draw upon the philosophical tradition in order to question whether scientific advances can show us as much about human nature as some may expect, and to further question whether we should welcome the idea that scientific interventions might improve that nature.

Pier F. Ferrari


One of the key questions in understanding human morality is how central are emotions in influencing our decisions and in our moral judgments. Theoretical work has proposed that empathy could play an important role in guiding our tendencies to behave altruistically or selfishly. Neurosciences suggest that one of the core elements of empathic behaviour in human and nonhuman primates is the capacity to internally mimic the behaviour of others, through the activation of shared motor representations. Part of the neural circuits involves parietal and premotor cortical regions (mirror system), in conjunction with other areas, such as the insula and the anterior cingulate cortex. Together with this embodied neural mechanism, there is a cognitive route in which individuals can evaluate the social situation without necessary sharing the emotional state of others. For example, several brain areas of the prefrontal cortex track the effects of one’s own behaviour and of the value of one’s own actions in social contexts. It is here proposed that, moral cognition could emerge as the consequence of the activity of emotional processing brain networks, probably involving mirror mechanisms, and of brain regions that, through abstract-inferential processing, evaluate the social context and the value of actions in terms of abstract representations. A comparative-based approach to the neurobiology of social relations and decision-making may explain how complex mental faculties, such as moral judgments, have their foundations in brain networks endowed with functions related to emotional and abstract-evaluation processing of goods. It is proposed that in primate evolution these brain circuits have been co-opted in the social domain to integrate mechanisms of self-reward, estimation of negative outcomes, with emotional engagement.

Homo animal nobilissimum (2 vols)

Konturen des spezifisch Menschlichen in der naturphilosophischen Aristoteleskommentierung des dreizehnten Jahrhunderts. Teilband 2


Theodor W. Köhler

This volume deals with the philosophical approach of thirteenth-century masters to concrete, practical manifestations of specifically human life quantum ad naturalia in their commentaries on Aristotle's works on natural philosophy, both the genuine ones and the ones then considered genuine. It inquires into what they deemed worthy of philosophical debate regarding this topic and how they tackled it. This volume completes as Teilband II the researches initiated in a previous volume (Teilband 1) and describes the scholars' discourses on the peculiarity of human body constitution, the specifically human cognitive faculties and operations, human speech and animal vocal communication, human action and animal activity, human emotional behaviour, and human and animal ways of life. This is the first comprehensive source-based study on the subject; it draws heavely on inedited texts.

Imagining the End of the World

A Biocultural Analysis of Post-Apocalyptic Fiction


Mathias Clasen

meaning. Stories about the destruction of the world are ancient, going back to early religious imaginings about the end-times (Cohn: 1957). Post-apocalyptic fiction taps into the deepest springs of ancestral emotions, but it found in modernity a particularly hospitable cultural ecology and a particularly


Mathias Clasen and Todd K. Platts

strong emotional responses. They provide a context for romantic pair-bonding and a social context for displays of mastery of negative film-induced emotion. Finally, they satisfy an evolved desire for vicarious experience, for imaginatively probing the extremes of experience. This desire has historically


Brett Cooke

emotion such as might justify singing, the effect was for great segmentation, leaving many pauses for applause and calls for encores – yes, more segmentation. The Royal Academy had to restrain encores lest its performances became, in the words of a contemporary, “too tedious” (qtd. in Dean and Knapp: 2009

Theory of Mind and Mind Eating

The Popular Appeal of Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies


Kathryn Duncan

. For the purposes of this paper, Theory of Mind is paramount and is defined as mind reading – not in a clairvoyant fashion – but registering the body language and action of others and thereby ascribing motivation and emotion. We observe behavior and create narrative around that behavior (oftentimes

The Reader is Always Right

Biopoetic and Cognitive-Aesthetic Aspects of Karl May’s Adventure Novel Winnetou I


Sophia Wege

combat, powerful heroes fighting and defeating greedy villains, while protecting innocent lives. 2 On the level of narrative technique we find incessantly repeated plot structures typically found in formulaic literature, simplistic antagonistic character constellations, simple emotions, and moral norms


Brett Cooke and Dirk Vanderbeke

Fantasy” (1999), and David Bordwell scans some popular films in his Poetics of Cinema (2008). As mentioned above, canonical literature is often distinguished by the fact that it has a strong didactic message, and that the emotions displayed in it are non-adaptively refined and exalted. To give an

Why We Read Detective Fiction

Theory of Mind in Action


Judith P. Saunders

). In other words, Dupin is able to assume, hypothetically and temporarily, an alien identity: he comprehends someone else’s emotions and intentions as if they were his own. Using his knowledge of human nature, he enters into the criminal’s feelings and plans, even empathizing with them to some extent